Final Report: Challenges Facing Consumers With Limited English Skills In The Rapidly Changing Telecommunications Marketplace
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COMMUNITIES FOR TELECOM RIGHTS DATA REPORT

August 23, 2006 Summary Draft

CTR DATABASE INTAKE REPORT: The following report includes intakes from 2004 through August 20, 2006. This report includes both Latino and API CTR intakes and contains a chart representing the specific 2004- current "Service Types as an overview to the specific details portrayed by the "Issue Types" and corresponding intake totals to determine the underlying complaint problems. This report includes a separate consumer education breakdown for purposes of determining the actual needs of LEP consumers as compared to needs assessments and materials previously devised and issued by the CPUC.

MOST PROMINENT CTR DATABASE SERVICE TYPES AND NUMBERS:

Service Type Total API LIF

Bundled Plan

48 62 70

Company Calling Care

26 16 10

Consumer Ed

2946 2180 766

Contract Cellular/Wireless

1474 708 666

Dial-Around

13 3 10

High-Speed Internet

77 57 20

Internet Dial-Up

167 123 44

Pager

3 2 1

Prepaid Wireless

52 27 25

Prepaid Calling Cards

142 112 30

Residential Bundled

171 102 69

Residential Local

2238 1596 642

Residential Local Toll

76 60 16

Residential Long Distance

1272 912 360

ULTS

297 283 14

Wireless Abuse/ Service

167 98 69

CHART SUMMARY: Although Residential Local, Residential Long Distance and Consumer Education appear to reflect the highest numbers, overlaps discussed above and a review of the details of each intake, show that the most prominent CTR database complaint service types are wireless contract and kiosk problems. The Residential services should not have included "Bundled Services" as a choice because a review of each complaint shows tremendous overlapping of other choices. Local Toll problems resulted from a few customers failing to switch it to new carriers. However, a high portion of Local Toll validated complaints were minimum monthly fees charged by a major carrier to customers that verifiably did not have service with the carrier for 3-4 years. This problem was most prevalent in 2004, decreased in 2005 and decreased again in 2006. The company's continued explanation was a computer glitch. Dial-up Internet resulted in a more than acceptable number of modem hijacking and one ISP unilaterally utilizing toll numbers to connect under the auspices of programmed local numbers being busy. Finally, Long Distance issues other than slamming and cramming were a combination of prepaid calling cards not working and customers not understanding plan restrictions omitted in the marketing campaigns.

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MOST PROMINENT CTR DATABASE ISSUES AND CORRESPONDING NUMBERS: The most prominent issues are represented by the database complaint numbers. Several "issues" overlap into other areas. For purposes of objectivity, the overlapping issues and corresponding numbers listed below would increase the numbers in the count section. Examples of this overlapping immediately follow the "Issues"chart.

Issues Count

Billed After Cancellation

193

Collect Call

48

Collection Notice

119

Contract Change W/out Notice

65

Contract Extension Renewal

102

Cramming

498

Debt Collection

88

Double-Billing

103

Early Termination Fee

84

Failure to Refund /Credit

77

Faulty Equipment

89

International Calls

163

Language Accessibility-Billing

618

Late Fees

20

Media Downloads

30

Misleading Ads

95

Misrepresentation

20

Number Portability

5

Operator Assisted

160

Poor Coverage

40

Promotion/Award Not Honored

65

Reconnection Fee

17

Repairs/Installation

240

Roaming Charges

41

Rude Customer Service

412

Slamming

388

Taxes, Fees & Surcharges

139

Telemarketing

840

Timely Billing

22

Unclear Billing Format

225

Undisclosed Fees

35

Unusual or High Costs

585

Wrong Rate

135

Wrongful Disconnection

33

Unrecognized Call/Number

298

SUMMARY OF ABOVE CHART: The above chart numbers must be interpreted by understanding combined database issues. The combinations and numbers are listed as follows:

Collect Call, Operator Assisted, Unrecognized Call/Number and Wrong Rate = 641

Double-Billing, Undisclosed Fees, Unclear Billing Format, Timely Billing = 385

Billed after Cancellation, Contract Change without Notice, Contract Extension=360

Collection Notice, Debt Collection and Wrongful Disconnection = 240

The majority of Residential Long Distance complaints involved slamming (non-subscriber acceptance and access to verification tapes denied) and third party billing aggregator charges = 876

****Language Accessibility/Billing numbers support CTR's position that language barriers leave LEP consumers at an unfair advantage. CTR data also supports the In-Language Draft Report issued by the California Public Utilities Commissions

The primary victim demographics by ethnicity are ranked in order and show the most prevalent groups in the CTR database. It should be noted that Latinos comprise the largest ethnic group listed below in the state of California:

Latino: Vietnamese

Chinese: Filipino

Hmong Cambodian

Korean Others

Victim Demographic by Language: 9/1/04-8/22/06: Spanish, Hmong, Cantonese, Korean, Tagalog, Vitenamese, Cambodian/Khmer, Laotian, Other

MOST PREVALENT ISSUES IMPACTING LATINO & API CONSUMERS:

Failure of marketing materials to disclose contract terms

Misrepresentation at wireless kiosks

Bills require Ph. D. to read

Low CSR help for API speakers

Prepaid phone card problems bigger for API consumers

Internet and media download cramming higher for API consumers

Refusal of carriers to help consumers with stolen phones

Text messaging complaints higher in Filipino communities

Fraud higher at API than Latino kiosks

Confusion about ULTS continues

Discrimination against accents
* CTR continually experiences rude customer service as a result of the sound of an

"accent" with English-speaking customer service reps. In most cases, CTR still

finds that most calls to customer service are not logged.

Editorial Note: PUC In-Language Report proves need for CTR

The CPUC In-Language Draft Report supports the fact that market competition and mutual cooperation efforts with consumer education will force companies to prioritize customer relations. CTR data highly questions The "Report". Specifically, CTR is concerned about some of the report facts supporting actual facts:

1. Only 100 companies out of approximately 1500 voluntarily returned the PUC-requested surveys. Of the 100 surveys returned, gas & electric and water districts were included.

2. It is unclear as to how the CPUC can get caught up on almost 30,000 backlogged complaints while spending all of its staff time compiling other data and writing reports.

. 3. If the complaint system is designated for completion by the end of 2007, CTR is unclear as to how many more complaints will be backlogged in addition to the 30,000 that now exist.

4. Finally, commissioners promised that CTR would meet with all carriers to establish a complaint process for CBOs by June 2006. To date, AT&T and T-Mobile complaint processes are completed. CTR has not had any further communications with other carriers except Verizon Wireless (several meeting dates postponed and no pending new date).

5. With these few facts, CTR is concerned that time spent on marketing the idea of consumer education is being substituted for actual complaint resolution, monitoring and reporting as a means of determining and remedying problem company practices.

CTR legacy is proof that LEP telecom complaints exist

CONCLUSION: The results of this initial draft report are designed to show the importance of accurate and validated complaint intake. A renewed focus on complaint intake, consistant online validated complaints filed with the CPUC and the ongoing monitoring and tracking of CTR complaints appear to be the only real proof that California LEP consumer problems exist. CTR can leave a legacy to show the legislature and consumers that market competition does not solve existing and will not solve future consumer telecom problems.

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