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WAC 480-120-161

Form of bills.

(1) Bill frequency. Companies must offer customers, at a minimum, the opportunity to receive billings on a monthly interval, unless subsection (11) of this section applies.
(2) Length of time for payment of a bill. Bill due dates must reflect a date which at a minimum allows a customer fifteen days from the date of mailing for payment.
(a) Upon showing of good cause, a customer may request and the company must allow the customer to pay by a date that is not the normally designated payment date on their bill. Good cause may include, but not be limited to, adjustment of the billing cycle to parallel receipt of income.
(i) A company may not assess late payment fees for the period between the regularly scheduled due date and the customer-chosen due date so long as the customer makes payment in full by the customer-chosen due date.
(ii) A company may refuse to establish a preferred payment date that would extend the payment date beyond the next normally scheduled payment or due date.
(b) If a company is delayed in billing a customer, the company must offer arrangements upon customer request or upon indication that a payment arrangement is necessary, that are equal to the length of time the bill is delayed beyond the regularly scheduled billing interval (e.g., if the bill includes two months delayed charges, the customer must be allowed to pay the charges over two months).
Companies may not charge a customer late payment fees on the delayed charges during the extended payment period.
(3) Form of bill. With the consent of the customer, a company may provide regular billings in electronic form if the bill meets all the requirements of this rule. The company must maintain a record of the customer's request, and the customer may change from electronic to printed billing upon request.
(4) Bill organization. Telephone bills must be clearly organized, and must comply with the following requirements:
(a) Bills may only include charges for services that have been requested by the customer or other individuals authorized to request such services on behalf of the customer, and that have been provided by the company;
(b) The name of the service provider associated with each charge must be clearly and conspicuously identified on the telephone bill;
(c) Where charges for two or more companies appear on the same telephone bill, the charges must be separated by service provider;
(d) The telephone bill must clearly and conspicuously identify any change in service provider, including identification of charges from any new service provider; and
(e) The telephone bill must include the internet address (uniform resource locator) of the web site containing the service provider's tariff pursuant to WAC 480-120-193 (Posting of tariffs for public inspection and review). This requirement may be satisfied by including the address of a web site other than that of the telecommunications company itself, if the web site provides access to the tariff that applies to the service being billed.
For purposes of this subsection, "new service provider" means a service provider that did not bill the customer for service during the service provider's last billing cycle. This definition includes only providers that have continuing relationships with the customer that will result in periodic charges on the customer's bill, unless the service is subsequently canceled.
For purposes of this subsection, "clearly and conspicuously" means notice that would be apparent to a reasonable customer.
(5) Descriptions of billed charges.
(a) The bill must include a brief, clear, nonmisleading, plain language description of each service for which a charge is included. The bill must be sufficiently clear in presentation and specific enough in content so that the customer can determine that the billed charges accurately reflect the service actually requested and received, including individual toll calls and services charged on a per-occurrence basis.
(b) The bill must identify and set out separately, as a component of the charges for the specific service, any access or other charges imposed by order of or at the direction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
(c) The bill must clearly delineate the amount or the percentage rate and basis of any tax assessed by a local jurisdiction.
(6) Charges for which service can be discontinued. Where a bill contains charges for basic service, in addition to other charges, the bill must distinguish between charges for which nonpayment will result in loss of basic service. The bill must include telephone numbers by which customers may inquire or dispute any charges on the bill. A company may list a toll-free number for a billing agent, clearinghouse, or other third party, provided such party possesses sufficient information to answer questions concerning the customer's account and is fully authorized to resolve the customer's complaints on the company's behalf. Where the customer does not receive a paper copy of the telephone bill, but instead accesses that bill only by email or internet, the company may comply with this requirement by providing on the bill an email or web site address. Each company must make a business address available upon request from a customer.
(7) Itemized statement. A company must provide an itemized statement of all charges when requested by a customer, including, but not limited to:
(a) Rates for individual services;
(b) Calculations of time or distance charges for calls, and calculations of any credit or other account adjustment; and
(c) When itemizing the charges of information providers, the name, address, telephone number, and toll-free number, if any, of the providers.
(8) Methods of payment.
(a) Companies must, at a minimum, allow the following methods of payment: Cash, certified funds (e.g., cashier check or money order), and personal checks.
(b) Upon written notice to a customer, companies may refuse to accept personal checks when that customer has tendered two or more nonsufficient-funds checks within the last twelve months.
(9) Billing companies. A company may bill regulated telecommunications charges only for companies properly registered to provide service within the state of Washington or for billing agents. The company must, in its contractual relationship with the billing agent, require the billing agent to certify that it will submit charges only on behalf of properly registered companies; and that it will, upon request of the company, provide a current list of all companies for which it bills, including the name and telephone number of each company. The company must provide a copy of this list to the commission for its review upon request.
(10) Crediting customer payments. Unless otherwise specified by the customer, payments that are less than the total bill balance must be credited first to basic service, with any remainder credited to any other charges on the bill.
For purposes of this subsection, basic service includes associated fees and surcharges such as FCC access charges. Basic service does not include ancillary services such as caller identification and custom calling features.
(11) Exemptions from this rule. Prepaid calling card services (PPCS) are exempt from subsections (1) through (10) of this section.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 80.36.010, 80.36.110, 80.36.320, 80.36.330, 80.36.333, 80.36.338, 80.01.040, 80.04.160 and chapter 80.04 RCW. WSR 07-08-027 and 07-10-017 (Docket UT-060676, General Order R-540), § 480-120-161, filed 3/27/07 and 4/20/07, effective 4/27/07 and 5/21/07. Statutory Authority: RCW 80.01.040 and 80.04.160. WSR 05-03-031 (Docket No. UT 040015, General Order No. R-516), § 480-120-161, filed 1/10/05, effective 2/10/05; WSR 03-01-065 (Docket No. UT-990146, General Order No. R-507), § 480-120-161, filed 12/12/02, effective 7/1/03.]
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