New Bell Atlantic 'Cramming' Policy Kicks In July 4

New Bell Atlantic 'Cramming' Policy Kicks In July 4

Company to Help Cramming Victims

June 30, 1998

Media contact:

Paul Miller,

NEW YORK -- Beginning on the Fourth of July, Bell Atlantic will make it
easier for victims of "cramming" to have unauthorized charges removed
from their telephone bills.

Cramming is the practice of placing charges on a customer's phone bill for
services or programs that the customer claims he or she did not use or

Today, when a customer complains to Bell Atlantic about a charge for a
service or program that the customer says was neither used nor authorized,
Bell Atlantic refers the customer to the service provider that originated the

That procedure changes this Saturday. On and after July 4, Bell Atlantic
will take such charges associated with suspected cramming off a
customer's bill without first referring the customer to the service provider.

"Our customers should not have to jump through hoops to resolve a
cramming dispute. While we cannot stop cramming altogether, we can
minimize the inconvenience that victims encounter," said James G. Cullen,
president and CEO of Bell Atlantic's Telecom Group.

Telecommunications service providers, who use Bell Atlantic for their
billing services, were notified early in May of the upcoming "one-stop"

Bell Atlantic is recognized as a national leader in the effort to stop
cramming. The "one-stop" policy was one part of a three-pronged attack
launched by the company in May to combat the growing problem.

The other two steps taken were:

A halt to billing services to certain providers -- Bell Atlantic has, to
date, served formal notice on seven billing aggregators (companies that act
as clearinghouses for providers of telecommunications and related services)
that it would no longer bill for their services unless they cure the problems
caused by at least 35 telecommunications providers who are generating
cramming complaints from customers. Further, Bell Atlantic has demanded
these aggregators implement more stringent procedures to screen the
marketing practices of their telecommunications service providers.

A moratorium on providing new billing services -- In May Bell Atlantic
declared an immediate moratorium on the billing of any new services not
previously approved until it can be assured that cramming is under control.
Bell Atlantic has historically screened proposals for billing new services and
has reserved the right to reject objectionable services.

Many customers appreciate getting all of their telecommunications charges
on one bill. To meet that requirement, Bell Atlantic provides billing
services to a wide variety of telecommunications providers.

A recent Bell Atlantic study revealed that customer complaints about
cramming have escalated. Since the first of the year, the company has
received thousands of cramming complaints prompting this strong action
by Bell Atlantic.

Bell Atlantic -- formed through the merger of Bell Atlantic and NYNEX --
is at the forefront of the new communications and information industry.
With more than 41 million telephone access lines and 6.7 million wireless
customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are premier providers of
advanced wireline voice and data services, market leaders in wireless
services and the world's largest publishers of directory information. Bell
Atlantic companies are also among the world's largest investors in high-
growth global communications markets, with operations and investments in
23 countries.