Verizon Asks New Jersey Regulators to Probe WorldCom Slamming Complaints

NEWARK, N.J. - Verizon today asked the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to investigate complaints from hundreds of Verizon customers who say they have been "slammed," or switched without their approval, from Verizon to WorldCom and its MCI Neighborhood plan.

"We have asked the board to impose punitive measures to make sure this appalling mistreatment of customers doesn't happen again," said Bruce Cohen, general counsel for Verizon New Jersey. "This is egregious conduct. WorldCom cannot ignore the rules."

According to state and federal laws, customers must authorize any change in their phone company.

In the past few weeks, Verizon has received 850 such complaints and that number is likely to rise as more customers receive their phone bills. Many customers only discovered the change in their phone company when they received the latest bill.

Many complaints received by Verizon came from people who said they had rejected telephone solicitations from MCI trying to get them to change to the MCI Neighborhood plan.

Other Verizon customers learned they were slammed when they called to complain that all their phone services were not working or, conversely, that they suddenly had services they never ordered.

    Verizon urges consumers to take these steps to ensure they are not slammed:

  • Call your local phone company to request a "freeze" that prevents any change in your phone service provider unless you request the switch;
  • Review your phone bill monthly; and
  • Read the fine print on all contracts, applications and contest entry forms.

Consumers may register slamming complaints with the BPU by calling 800-624-0241.

Verizon Communications

Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with 135.1 million access line equivalents and 30.3 million Verizon Wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. With more than $67 billion in annual revenues and approximately 241,000 employees, Verizon's global presence extends to more than 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.