AT&T AND MCI SETTLE 800 CALL INFO DIRECTORY ASSISTANCE DISPUTE
BASKING RIDGE, N.J. -- AT&T today announced that it has reached
an agreement to settle its complaint against MCI Telecommunications
Corporation involving MCI's 1-800-CALL-INFO directory assistance
Under the settlement, MCI will make changes in the service that
will protect the public's interests and trust in the toll-free status
of 800 services.
The agreement requires MCI to cease its practice of automatically
charging for calls to its 800 number for directory information based
on the electronic identification of the callers' numbers.
Contingent on that change, and upon the Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) approval of the settlement, AT&T will drop its
complaint that MCI's practice violated the 1992 Federal Telephone and
Dispute Resolution Act. The law restricts telephone companies and
information providers from charging customers for calling 800 numbers.
Callers to MCI's service will now be required to use credit
cards, calling cards or establish alternative billing arrangements
with MCI in advance of their calls. MCI has agreed to make these
modifications by Jan. 7.
"This means that callers will no longer have to fear dialing 800
numbers and automatically being charged. And businesses don't need to
concern themselves with policing these calls from their premises,"
said Kenneth Sichau, AT&T's marketing vice president. "It's great
news for the entire industry!
"This is precisely the outcome we had requested when we filed our
complaint in October. We will continue our efforts at the FCC to
preserve and strengthen rules that protect consumers from abusive or
unfair practices involving toll-free 800 service."