The company recognizes the rights of its customers as a consumer of its services. The following is a list of often asked questions and their answers regarding your rights as a customer, application, billing and payments, deposits and the use of telephone service:
Can I look at and/or obtain copies of the rules and rates applicable to telephone service before I apply for service?
YES. The information contained in the General Exchange Tariff is a matter of public record. The telephone company will make available to the public at each of its business offices all of its tariffs currently on file with the Public Utility Commission of Texas in Austin. The telephone company will assist seekers of information and afford inquirers an opportunity to examine any of the tariffs upon request. The telephone company will provide copies of any portion of the tariffs at a reasonable cost to reproduce such tariffs for a requesting party.
How long do I have to pay my telephone bill after I receive it?
Your bill for local, toll and miscellaneous service is issued monthly and is due and payable at the payment offices of the company on or before the due date which is sixteen (16) days after issuance. Your bill for telephone service will become delinquent if unpaid by the due date. The postmark, if any, on the envelope of the bill, or an issuance date on the bill, if there is no postmark on the envelope, shall constitute proof of the date of issuance. If the due date falls on a holiday or weekend, the due date for payment purposes shall be the next work day after the due date.
On what basis can the telephone company disconnect my service?
Your telephone service may be disconnected for any of the following reasons:
- Failure to pay a delinquent account for basic local telephone service or failure to comply with the terms of a Deferred Payment or Guarantee Deposit Agreement;
- Violation of the telephone company’s rules pertaining to the use of service in a manner which interferes with the service of others or the operation of nonstandard equipment, if a reasonable attempt has been made to notify you and you are provided with a reasonable opportunity to remedy the situation;
- Failure to comply with deposit or guarantee arrangements where required by the telephone company in accordance with the General Rules pertaining to Deposits in the General Exchange Tariff for the telephone company.
What do I have to pay to prevent the disconnection of basic local service?
To prevent disconnection of basic local service, you must pay the total amount due for all local services as indicated on the bill. However, failure to pay your total amount due will lead to the blocking of long distance access until full payment is received.
Can the telephone company disconnect my service without notifying me before doing so?
YES. If a known dangerous condition exists which would cause harm to the telecommunications network, you as a customer, or employees of the company, as long as the condition exists.
Also, where service is connected without authority by a person who has not made application for service or who has reconnected service without authority following termination of service for nonpayment or in instances of tampering with the company’s equipment or bypassing it.
If I am late with payment of my bill, will the company notify me? (Before they disconnect my service.)
YES. If your bill for telephone service has not been paid within the 16 days allowed for payment, a termination or disconnect notice will be sent to you at least 10 days prior to a date stated on the disconnect notice that service will be disconnected if the bill has not been paid by that date.
The notice will have the words “Termination Notice” or similar language prominently displayed on it. The notice will also have printed on it, or attached to it, a notice that if you are in need of assistance with payment of your bill, or are ill and unable to pay your bill, you may be eligible for an alternative program, such as a Deferred Payment Plan, and you should contact the business office of the company for more information during the hours listed at the address and telephone numbers stated on page 3 of this directory.
If I get a termination notice and the disconnection date shown on it is on a weekend or a holiday, will my service be disconnected on the day before?
NO. If the cutoff day falls on a weekend or holiday, the cutoff will be made on the next working day after the tenth (10th) day from the date of the notice or twenty-six (26) days from the issuance of your bill.
If I find what I believe to be an error on my bill, how do I resolve the error? (Without having my service disconnected.)
In the event of a dispute between you and the telephone company regarding any bill for telephone service, the company will investigate the particular case, and report the results to you. In the event the dispute is not resolved, the company will inform you of the complaint procedures of the Public Utility Commission.
Your service will not be subject to discontinuance for not paying that portion of a bill under dispute pending the completion of the determination of the dispute, but in no event should the dispute exceed sixty (60) days. You are obligated to pay any billings not disputed as established in the General Rules Section of the General Exchange Tariff for the telephone company.
If my residence telephone bill is unusually high and I cannot pay the entire bill, are there any provisions where I can defer payments or make monthly payments?
YES. You have the right to request a Deferred Payment Plan as a residential customer if you have not been issued more than two (2) Disconnection Notices at any time during the preceding twelve (12) months by the company. However, under the company’s Deferred Payment Plan offered due to your inability to pay an outstanding bill in full, you will be required to pay current bills and a reasonable amount of the outstanding bill as well as reasonable installments on the balance until the bill is paid, otherwise your service will be discontinued according to standard disconnection procedures. A payment of up to one-third (1/3) of the deferred amount will be required as a reasonable payment. If you do not fulfill the terms of the Deferred Payment Plan, the company will have the right to disconnect your service upon issuance of a Disconnection Notice to you, as provided in these rules, indicating you have not met the terms of the plan.
Suppose my telephone service is disconnected, what should I do to have it reconnected?
- If your service has been disconnected for failure to establish credit or failure to pay basic local service, you must pay your bill or enter into a Deferred Payment Plan and meet the company’s deposit requirements before service will be restored. A charge for restoration of service will be made and collected by the company.
- If your check was returned because of insufficient funds or other reasons, you must make payment good. If the company deems necessary, you may be requested to supply cash, money order or cashier’s check and not accept a personal check if your credit history warrants such action. A restoration of service charge is applicable under this condition.
- If your service has been terminated and your deposit applied to the balance of your account, it will be necessary to reapply for telephone service as a new applicant.
If I do not agree with action or determination of the company regarding its customer service rules or rules of the public utility commission, how do I get the dispute resolved?
If the company is unable to provide a supervisory review immediately after your request, arrangements will be made for the earliest possible date. Your telephone service will not be disconnected pending completion of the review. The results of the review will be provided to you within ten (10) days after the review if you so request. If you decide not to participate in the review or make arrangements for such review within five (5) days after requesting it, the company will disconnect your service under its standard disconnection procedures. Should any disputes not be resolved after the supervisory review, any complaints you may have can be directed to the Public Utility Commission of Texas in writing to the following address: Public Utility Commission of Texas P.O. Box 13326 Austin, Texas 78711-3326 www.puc.state.tx.us Or by calling the: Public Utility Commission of Texas Consumer Affairs Division Toll Free 1-888-782-8477 800-735-2988 – teletypewriter for the deaf
Under what circumstances will I be required to pay a deposit in obtaining telephone service?
Every residential and business applicant or customer must establish satisfactory credit with the company to receive telephone service. If you cannot provide a satisfactory credit reference or do not have a good payment record or cannot provide a guarantee satisfactory to the company, customers may be required to make a deposit to receive service. Access for residential customers to basic local service will be considered separately from long distance. Therefore, deposits for basic local service will be determined based on basic local charges. Business customers without satisfactory credit history will be required to make a deposit for both basic and anticipated long distance charges.
If I am required to make a deposit to have telephone service, can I be required to pay an additional deposit to keep my service?
To receive basic local service, residential customers will only be required to submit a deposit equal to the cost of two (2) months of basic local service. In some cases, an additional deposit can be required for this service. However, access to long distance may require additional deposits. To require an additional deposit for basic local service, your actual usage must be three (3) times estimated usage (or three (3) times average usage of most recent three (3) bills), and your current usage must exceed $150, and must exceed 150% of the security held. The request by the company for such an additional deposit shall be made to you in writing and will advise you that you have the option to elect to pay the current usage in lieu of the additional deposit. If the additional deposit or current usage payment is not made within ten (10) days after issuance of the written notice of termination and requested additional deposit, the company may disconnect your service. If you are a residential customer and actual billings are at least twice the amount of estimated billings after two (2) billing periods and a suspension notice has been issued on a bill in the previous twelve (12) month period, an additional deposit may be required to be made within fifteen (15) days after issuance of written notice of termination and requested additional deposit, or If you are a business or commercial customer and actual billings are at least twice the amount of estimated billings and a suspension notice has been issued on a bill within a previous twelve (12) month period, an additional deposit may be required to be made within fifteen (15) days after issuance of written notice of termination and requested an additional deposit. In lieu of payment of the additional deposit, you may elect, as either a business or residential customer, to pay the current billing by the due date of the bill, provided you have not exercised this option in the previous twelve (12) months.
If I am required to pay a deposit, what rate of interest will be paid and how will it be paid?
The company will pay interest on all deposits made by its customers at an annual rate set for each calendar year by the Public Utility Commission of Texas. Payment of the interest on the deposit shall be made annually or sooner if your service is discontinued, or credited to your account. The deposit will draw interest at the established rate from the time the deposit is made to the date the deposit is returned or credited to your account.
If I am required to make a deposit, is the company required to return it to me?
- The company will issue a receipt of deposit to you for the deposit received and keep a record of the deposit;
- If service is not connected or if service is disconnected, the deposit will be automatically refunded plus accrued interest for the balance, if any, in excess of the unpaid bills for service furnished;
- If you are a residential customer and have paid bills for service for twelve (12) consecutive billings without having service disconnected for nonpayment of a bill and without having more than two (2) occasions in which a bill was delinquent, and you are not delinquent in the payment of current billing, the company will automatically refund the deposit plus accrued interest in the form of credit to your monthly billing. If you have a guarantee for payment of your account, the company will void and return the guarantee to the guarantor;
- If you are a business or commercial customer and have paid bills for service for twenty-four (24) consecutive billings without having service disconnected for nonpayment of bill and without having more than two (2) occasions in which a bill was delinquent and you are not delinquent in the payment of current billing, the Company will promptly refund the deposit plus accrued interest in the form of cash or credit to your billing for service.
Under what conditions may I obtain Telephone service without paying a deposit?
Every customer applying for telephone service with the telephone company must establish satisfactory credit. This may be done in several ways and you will not be required to pay a deposit if:
- You have been a residential customer of a telephone company within the last two (2) years, and
- You are not delinquent in payment of your account for service, and
- During the last twelve (12) consecutive months of service did not have more than one (1) occasion in which your bill for service was paid after becoming delinquent and never had service disconnected for nonpayment. (You are encouraged to obtain a letter of credit from your previous company.)
- You furnish a satisfactory credit rating by appropriate means, including, but not limited to, the production of generally acceptable credit cards, letters of credit reference, the names of credit references which may be quickly and inexpensively contacted by the telephone company, or ownership of substantial equity.
- You furnish in writing a satisfactory guarantee to secure payment of bills for your telephone service.
- You are an applicant for residential service who is sixty-five (65) years of age or older and do not have an outstanding balance with any telephone company for residential service which accrued within the last two (2) years.
You have been a residential customer of a telephone company within the last two (2) years, and
How will the credit history of my former spouse who shared my telephone service affect my continuing to have service?
The company will apply the credit history for you and your former spouse who shared the service equally for a reasonable period of time. Credit history maintained by one (1), the spouse or former spouse, shall be applied equally to the other without modification and without additional qualifications not required by the other. Credit history shall not relieve either party as a customer of the company from complying with the company’s rules for prompt payment of bills.
How will I know about the company’s rules as related to my service, establishing and maintaining credit, bill payment and disconnection of service for failure to make prompt payment?
Every six (6) months the company will provide a statement printed on your bill or a billing insert showing the location of “Your Rights As A Customer” in the telephone directory which the company will furnish you each year or when you have service installed. Information pertaining to service or billing may be obtained by calling the company’s business office at 361-771-3334.
If my sight or hearing is severely impaired, how can I obtain assistance in using the telephone?
Customers having such disabilities should contact the company’s business office for information regarding readers or Braille as may be available or for the telephone number of the teletypewriter for the deaf at the Public Utility Commission.
If I have physical disabilities or require care from others, how will I find out about my rights as a customer?
The company encourages customers with physical disabilities and those who care for such customers to identify themselves to the company so that special action can be taken to inform these persons of their rights, where necessary and appropriate to the person’s circumstance.