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PUC Member Proposes $10-Million PacBell Fine

November 01, 2000|Elizabeth Douglass

A Public Utilities Commission member has proposed up to $10 million in fines for Pacific Bell involving a 3-year-old case about marketing and sales abuse. The latest fine proposal, by PUC member Richard Bilas, is one of three starkly different opinions under consideration by the commission, which is scheduled to vote on this matter Thursday. Though all three draft decisions conclude that the phone company's sales methods harmed customers by not disclosing important information about caller ID blocking options and other matters, the proposed fines and remedies vary significantly. Bilas proposes that PacBell be fined more than $10 million, with half of that rescinded if the phone company takes the ordered remedial action. PUC Commissioner Josiah Neeper, considered by critics to be a PacBell ally, recently issued a proposal that included a fine of about $2 million, plus various customer disclosure requirements. PUC Judge Maribeth Bushey, the presiding officer on the case, ruled last December that PacBell's sales methods were misleading and suggested penalties of up to $49 million.

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