FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
IRREGULATORS (including TeleTruth) Score: Our 4th successful, settled, class action suit against Verizon, which is closing after almost 15 years.
DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE COPY OF DISS-CONNECTED and learn more about customer overcharging, and How Verizon, AT&T, and the cable companies created the Digital Divide.
Estimated at $25-$35 million dollars in potential refunds, this case is about small business customers being put on a package called “CustoPAK”, that they did not order or could not use on their ‘data-line’, (called “machine dialer” herein) or were charged for an added long-distance service, offered by Verizon Long Distance.
For the official settlement announcement and related documents:
Based on Verizon’s own billing records, the experts were able to identify Custopak lines that were not able to use the basic Custopak features such as the mandated intercom feature as well as the other basic features, such as three-way calling, because the lines were used for data (non-voice) applications.
Using the Verizon records, the experts identified lines used for data applications that include fire alarms, elevator phones, automatic teller machines, modems, and a host of other data services, such as remote meter reading applications.
The settlement states: “Verizon denies these allegations and asserts that it only sold CustoPAK and Long-Distance service to customers who affirmatively consented to those services.”
According to phone bill auditor and one of the billing expert’s used in the litigation, Tom Allibone, (LTC Consulting and Director of Audits for TeleTruth), “this is real money back in the customer’s pocket but the customer must take action if they received a postcard or they will lose it”. Allibone stresses. “Depending on how long the customer had Custopak service, the potential refund could be thousands of dollars. We note that these refunds go back as far as 2003.The terms of the settlement provides for 100% of the customer’s monthly overcharges to be returned to customers and not the lawyers.” Verizon is responsible for paying all the lawyer fees/expenses.
The settlement also provides refunds for certain long-distance plans and fees where the machine dialer is programmed to call the same number all the time and can never make a long-distance call.
This litigation was originally filed back in February 2009, and after many twists and turns, on June 27, 2023, the Honorable Ana C. Viscomi, Superior Court NJ, Middlesex County ordered preliminary approval of a class action lawsuit. A final hearing is scheduled for October 10, 2023. Note: As required by the settlement, post cards have been mailed out to businesses found in Verizon’s billing records.
History: The Long and Winding Road to Justice.
Starting with the formation of TeleTruth in 2001, Tom Allibone, a forensic auditor and Bruce Kushnick, a telecom analyst and a database and survey specialist, conducted numerous “Send Us Your Phone bill”, campaigns over the next few years with media partners, including in New York, with WABC News, and WTAE Pittsburgh PA, among others, and on the web.
According to Kushnick. “We received thousands of bills and created a proprietary analytical database which showed a pattern of questionable billing practices from the audits which led us to the eventual filing of the lawsuit.
Starting in 2002, we informed and filed with the FCC as well as the NJ Board of Public Utilities, that the bills were filled with mistakes, and that customers were being put on packages they did not order — on all services, but we mentioned Custopak in particular. These mistakes were being piled on and we specifically filed multiple times for the FCC to investigate. Over the last 2 decades, the FCC’s track record on investigations of billing issues has been atrocious. One has only to look at the current made up fees, and mistakes that are more common than not.
According to the IRREGULATORS, (formerly TeleTruth), our surveys show that about 50%-80% of NJ and Verizon small businesses have been placed on the Centrex Custopak; a basic phone line with no extra features being cheaper than Custopak, or some other service, like long distance.
(NOTE: These web pages were created at the time of the case so some of the links may not be working and the contact info, including phone numbers and emails and addresses have changed.
Case 1: Missing small business Discounts. The first case was officially settled on July 21st, 2004. We found that approximately 40% of Verizon small business (under 5 lines) customers in New Jersey were missing their discounts, starting in 1996-2003. Thus, a 3-line account was entitled to $1.10 a month, per line– for 9 years– over $350 in missed discounts.
Case Number 2: Overbilling for Missing Data Lines, – In July 2006, the Superior Court of NJ, Middlesex County approved a groundbreaking statewide settlement in a class action lawsuit against Verizon New Jersey, Inc. The lawsuit alleged that Verizon continued to bill customers for ‘inoperative’ circuits (data-lines) that are no longer in use. This included data lines that had been removed, destroyed, or otherwise ceased to be used– or were not even attached to the home or office that were still being billed.
- Special Circuits Affected: These are ‘data-lines, (also known as ‘non-switched’ analog circuits” are commonly used for, Burglar alarm or fire alarm, Telemetry circuit. Used for remote meter reading or control signals.
- Refunds could be large: For example, if a customer is paying for an inoperative burglar alarm circuit, they could be entitled to refunds ranging from $600 to over $2,300.
Case 3: Verizon Improperly Charged for Installing Jacks; Network Interface Device (NID): In Enerson v. Verizon New Jersey, working with counsel, the case claimed that Verizon had improperly charged customers on about 300,000 occasions for installing “network interface jacks” — a cost that by tariff should have been borne by Verizon. Based on the work of Teletruth’s auditing division, and finding that this was a common pattern, after extensive negotiations and discovery, a settlement of approximately $4.5 million dollars was approved. This resulted in a refund to customers of nearly twice the overcharge they paid and separately paid for legal and administration fees. Current Verizon NJ customers received a direct credit to their accounts and the remaining customers were mailed a check in August 2016.
More to Come:
The IRREGULATORS will be relaunching TeleTruth to focus on billing issues, including the removal of all made up taxes, fees, surcharges, as well as mistakes on bills, costing customers billions per year. Teletruth will also focus on the Regulatory Capture of the FCC and other government agencies by Verizon, AT&T and CenturyLink of how they created the Digital Divide with the cable companies.
30 Years of Research Summarized: The IRREGULATORS have just published 2 new books; DISS-CONNECTED, written for the general public, and “Violations & Egregious Acts” for telecommunication advocates, activists and attorneys.
Get your free download of DISS-CONNECTED. It is available at: https://irregulators.net/
Who We Are: In 1992, the New Networks Institute was created as a market research firm focusing on the upcoming new fiber optic networks. In 2001, TeleTruth was formed to protect the public interest and to foster and to keep what competition existed in the telecommunications marketplace. In 2015, the IRREGULATORS grew out of a need to bring in experts, auditors and lawyers to take legal and regulatory actions. And in 2023, with the release of the new books, the successful completion of this class action law suit and the relaunch of TeleTruth, the next step is time to hold Big Telecom and Cable accountable for creating the Digital Divide and the corporate takeover (capture) of all levels government regulatory agencies and state and federal legislatures, which has now increased. These same corporations are now positioning themselves to be funded by state and federal government grants to finally begin the buildout of the wired telecom/communications infrastructure that they were supposed to have buildout over the past several decades– and of course, they are attempting a bait-and switch to spend the money on wireless and their other lines of business.