Take It to the PUC

Mark Frauenfelder’s experience with GTC and his plan to file a complaint with the Public Utilities Commission reminded me of an issue I just resolved that way with SBC. I’ve long had ISDN lines here in the IT Conversations studio for interviews, feeds to/from radio stations, etc., and I recently decided to switch my voice lines to ISDN, too. The reason is that I’m 25,000′ from the central office and the audio quality on my analog lines was awful. Can’t get DSL here for the same reason, but that’s another story. I asked SBC to quote me the costs to make the change including my Message Center services. It sounded good, so I made the change.

But when I got the first bill I noticed I was charged $22.50/mo for voicemail versus the previous $7.95. I went through the usual process of calling, asking, and complaining and finally got to a supervisor who was extremely rude and did nothing other than a CYA act, trying to put me “on the record” for understanding this and that.

I went to the California PUC commission web site and filed an “Informal Complaint” complaint using the on-line forms. That was on 9/24/04. On 10/13/04 I received a written acknowledgement from the PUC — more than I expected. But last week I got a call from a real manager at SBC — a guy who (a) knew what he was talking about, and (b) was polite and sincere. He had a copy of my complaint in front of him, ant it was clear he had researched the tariffs and other issues. Ultimately, he couldn’t give me voicemail on ISDN for $7.95, but he truly did go out of his way to offer me options and adjustments. In the end, it was his attitude and the fact that he took the complaint seriously that led to my satisfaction.

The lesson learned: If you feel you’ve been wronged, don’t hesitate to file a PUC complaint. It seems to work.

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