Pac Bell faces state fines

The Associated Press
Saturday October 28, 2000

SAN FRANCISCO – Pacific Bell could face more than $2 million in fines levied by state regulators who appear likely to punish the company for tricking customers into signing up for unwanted telephone service options. 

California Public Utilities Commissioner Josiah Neeper said Pac Bell scared customers into dropping the “complete blocking” option by telling them they might experience difficulties completing calls. 

When customers choose the “complete blocking” option, their numbers do not appear on Caller ID boxes, making the devices a tough sell for Pac Bell. 

Neeper, who previously said no fine was needed, now recommends Pac Bell pay a $2.4 million fine. 

Neeper’s about-face came as a surprise to the company. 

“This entire case is a sad commentary on the regulatory system, as there were virtually no facts on customer complaints to support the proceeding,” said Pac Bell spokesman Bill Blase. 

Commissioner Richard Bilas has begun drafting a separate proposal to fine Pac Bell for a different amount, a sign that a majority of the five CPUC commissioners would endorse such a penalty on the company.