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  Case Settled: Teletruth Finds Missing Small Business Discounts In NJ--- and Helps Get Refunds

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ----July 21st, 2004

Tom Allibone, 609-397-2257,

Bruce Kushnick,

The consumer advocacy group Teletruth announced today that approximately 40% of New Jersey small businesses identified as part of a class-action lawsuit, will get a refund from Verizon New Jersey for past overcharges. Under a proposed settlement reached in a class-action lawsuit, Verizon agreed that it had improperly billed business accounts with fewer than five lines between 1996 and 2003 at rates higher than the tariff established by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.

Under the proposed settlement, identified business accounts that were over-charged $1.01/month for one or more auxiliary lines from 8/1/00 to 8/15/03, will be entitled to receive $1.65/month for each auxiliary line that was overcharged.

Unidentified business accounts that were overcharged from 9/27/96 to 7/31/00 are also entitled to a refund and should file a claim. Unidentified accounts will receive $1.10/month for each auxiliary line that was overcharged.

"This settlement clearly shows that Verizon continues to need public interest oversight, not careless deregulation," according to Teletruth's Chairman Bruce Kushnick. Kushnick said that confusing bills and the inability of traditional watchdog agencies to monitor closely Verizon billing practices has permitted the telephone company to avoid applying the discounts to an estimated 40 percent of qualifying New Jersey businesses.

The refunds will vary in size from $1.01 to $178.20 depending on the number of lines missing the discount and the period of time involved.

Tom Allibone, Director of Auditing for Teletruth, conducted the investigations that led to the discovery of the missing discounts. According to Allibone, "today is a great day for New Jersey small businesses. Identified businesses will receive a refund plus a premium".

Teletruth urges all businesses to contact Teletruth if you are uncertain if you are eligible to receive the refund. Kushnick cautions all NJ businesses "to act promptly" and notes that the New Jersey "Send Us Your Phonebill" campaign uncovered numerous other billing errors. Mr. Kushnick strongly encourages all businesses to have a full telecommunications audit performed by Teletruth.

Teletruth is a national customer alliance and a member of the FCC Consumer Advisory Committee.

To See a Copy of a Phone Bill with the Missing Discount.

Read the Star Ledger Article

....."This is just the tip of the iceberg," said Tom Allibone, director ofauditing for Teletruth, a consumer advocacy group that assisted the plaintiffs in the case. "This is a simple example of how their billing system doesn't work.".

Email a Phone Bill Auditor:

More Information About Phone Bills in New York and New Jersey From Teletruth

Teletruth has published a Report and Expose about the problems with phone bills --- and how each phone bill Tax and Surcharge Should be removed from your bills.

Phone Bill Independence Report

"Phone Bills DO Lie"

Why is this report so important now? This report comes at a critical time. We are calling for an investigation of Every Tax and Surcharge on the phone bill because many are unmarked revenues to the companies and NO regulator has added everything up to date. --- NO New Taxes on Any New Service Until the Old Taxes have been Cost Justified.

Over 90 Issues have been identified that need addressing.

The Dirty, Little, Secret Lives of Phone Bills

"The Dirty Little Secret Lives of Phone Bills is based on real phone bills, and the scandals highlighted have been documented.

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