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WAC 480-120-172

Discontinuing service—Company initiated.

(1) A company may discontinue service without notice or without further notice when after conducting a thorough investigation, it finds the customer has used deceptive means to initiate or continue service including, but not limited to:
(a) Tampering with the company's property;
(b) Using service through an illegal connection; or
(c) Unlawfully using service or using service for unlawful purposes.
(2)(a) A company may discontinue service without notice or without further notice when after conducting a thorough investigation, it determines the customer has:
(i) Vacated the premises without informing the company;
(ii) Paid a delinquent balance in response to a delinquency notice as described in subsection (7) of this section with a check or electronic payment that is subsequently dishonored by the bank or other financial institution; or
(iii) Failed to keep payment arrangements agreed upon in response to a delinquency notice as described in subsection (7) of this section.
(b) The company must restore service once the customer has corrected the reason for discontinuance as described in subsection (2)(a) of this section.
(c) The company may require a deposit from a customer that it has disconnected due to the reasons described in subsection (2)(a) of this section.
(3) A company may discontinue service after providing proper notice, or may issue a discontinuation notice, if, and only if:
(a) The company determines the customer has violated a rule, statute, service agreement, filed tariff, or rates, terms and conditions of competitively classified services;
(b) The company determines the customer has used customer-owned equipment that adversely affects the company's service to its other customers;
(c) The company determines the customer has not paid regulated charges or has not paid a deposit as provided in the tariff or rates, terms and conditions of competitively classified services of the company or another company with which it has a billing and collection agreement, except for nonpayment of charges incurred from information delivery services as provided for in WAC 480-120-254 (Telephone solicitation) or disputed third party-billed charges;
(d) The company is unable to substantiate the identity of the individual requesting service:
(i) Companies must allow the applicant to substantiate identity with one piece of identification chosen from a list, provided by the company, of at least four sources of identification. The list must include a current driver's license or other picture identification;
(ii) Company business offices and payment agencies, required under WAC 480-120-132 (Business offices) and 480-120-162 (Cash and urgent payments), must provide a means for applicants to provide identification at no charge to the applicant;
(e) The company determines the customer has received service from the company by providing false information, including false statements of credit references or employment, false statement of premises address, use of an alias or false name with intent to deceive, or rotation of service among roommates or persons living together for the purpose of avoiding the debts of one or more persons; or
(f) The company determines the customer is receiving service at an address where a former customer is known to reside with an overdue, unpaid prior obligation to the same company for the same class of service at that address and there is evidence that the applicant lived at the address while the overdue, unpaid prior obligation was incurred and helped incur the obligations. However, a company may not deny service if a former customer with an overdue, unpaid prior obligation has permanently vacated the address.
(4) Except as provided in subsections (1), (2), and (3) of this section, a company may discontinue:
(a) Basic service only for nonpayment of basic service charges;
(b) Ancillary services only for nonpayment of ancillary charges or if the company properly discontinues basic service;
(c) Interexchange access only for nonpayment of interexchange charges or if the company properly discontinues basic service:
(i) At its discretion, the company may permit access to toll-free numbers while a customer's interexchange access service is discontinued or restricted;
(ii) The company may not charge fees for toll restriction when it has discontinued or restricted the customer's interexchange access service under this section;
(d) A company must not shift a rate plan as a discontinuation method.
(5) When a company discontinues service to a customer, it must also discontinue billing for service as of the date of the discontinuation.
(6) Medical emergencies.
(a) When a local exchange company (LEC) has cause to discontinue residential basic service or has discontinued service, it must postpone total service discontinuation or reinstate toll-restricted basic service that permits both making and receiving calls and access to E911 for a grace period of five business days after receiving either oral or written notice of the existence of a medical emergency, as described in (b) of this subsection. The LEC must reinstate service during the same day if the customer contacts the LEC prior to the close of the business day and requests a same-day reconnection. Otherwise, the LEC must restore service by 12:00 p.m. the next business day. When service is reinstated, the LEC cannot require payment of a reconnection charge or deposit before reinstating service but may bill the charges at a later date.
(b) The LEC may require that the customer submit written certification from a qualified medical professional, within five business days, stating that the discontinuation of basic service or restricted basic service would endanger the physical health of a resident of the household. "Qualified medical professional" means a licensed physician, nurse practitioner, or physician's assistant authorized to diagnose and treat the medical condition without supervision of a physician. Nothing in this subsection precludes a company from accepting other forms of certification, but the maximum the company can require is written certification. If the company requires written certification, it may require only:
(i) The address of the residence;
(ii) An explanation of how discontinuation of basic service or restricted basic service would endanger the physical health of the resident;
(iii) A statement of how long the condition is expected to last; and
(iv) The title, signature, and telephone number of the person certifying the condition.
(c) The medical certification is valid only for the length of time the medical professional certifies the resident's health would be endangered, but no longer than ninety days unless renewed.
(d) A medical emergency does not excuse a customer from paying delinquent and ongoing charges. The company may require that, within the five-day grace period, the customer pay a minimum of twenty-five percent of the delinquent basic service balance or ten dollars, whichever is greater, and enter into an agreement to pay the remaining delinquent basic service balance within ninety days, and agree to pay subsequent bills when due.
Nothing in this subsection precludes the company from agreeing to an alternate payment plan, but the company must not require the customer to pay more than this section prescribes and must send a notice to the customer confirming the payment arrangements within two business days.
(e) The company may discontinue basic service or restrict basic service without further notice if, within the five-day grace period, the customer fails to provide an acceptable medical certificate or pay the amount required under (d) of this subsection. The company may discontinue basic service or restrict basic service, without further notice, if the customer fails to abide by the terms of the payment agreement.
(f) The company must ensure that the records of medical emergencies are used or disclosed only for the purposes provided for in this section.
(7) Discontinuation notice requirements. The company must provide the customer notice before discontinuing service in accordance with (a) through (c) of this subsection, except as provided in subsection (1) of this section, and except as provided in WAC 480-120-122(8).
(a) Each company must provide a written discontinuation notice to the customer either by first class mail, personal delivery to the customer's service address, or electronically delivered when the company has the technical capability and the customer consents to this delivery method. A company must provide delivered notice by handing the notice to a person of apparent competence in the residence; to a person employed at the place of business of the customer if it is a business account; or attached to the primary door of the residential unit or business office where service is provided if no person is available to receive notice. The discontinuation notice must include, at a minimum:
(i) A discontinuation date that is not less than eight business days after the date the notice is mailed, transmitted electronically, or personally delivered;
(ii) The amount(s) owing for the service(s) that is subject to discontinuation or restriction;
(iii) A statement that clearly indicates the amount a customer must pay to maintain basic service or restricted basic service, regardless of the full amount owed by the customer;
(iv) Instructions on how to correct the problem to avoid the discontinuation;
(v) Information about any discontinuation or restoration charges that may be assessed;
(vi) Information about how a customer can avoid disconnection under the medical emergency rules described in subsection (6) of this section; and
(vii) The company's name, address, toll-free number, and TTY number where the customer may contact the company to discuss the pending discontinuation of service.
(b) If the company discovers that the information provided on the notice failed to meet the requirements of (a) of this subsection, or if the company discovers it provided incorrect information on the notice, the company must restore service and issue a second notice with accurate information as described in this section.
(c) If the company has not discontinued service within ten business days of the first day the discontinuation may be implemented, the discontinuation notice is void, unless the customer and the company have entered into a mutually acceptable payment agreement with payment dates that exceed the ten-day period. Upon a void notice, the company must provide a new discontinuation notice to the customer if the company intends to discontinue service at a later date.
(8) In addition to the notice required in subsection (7) of this section, a company must attempt to make personal contact with a customer prior to discontinuing service. Any of the following methods will satisfy the personal contact requirement:
(a) Delivered notice. A company must provide delivered notice handing the notice to a person of apparent competence in the residence; to a person employed at the place of business of the customer if it is a business account; or attached to the primary door of the residential unit or business office where service is provided if no person is available to receive notice. The notice must state a scheduled discontinuation date that is not earlier than 5:00 p.m. of the next business day after the date of delivery;
(b) Electronically issued notice. If the company has the technical capability to provide electronic notice and the customer has agreed to receive notice in electronic form, the notice sent by the company must state a scheduled discontinuation date that is not earlier than 5:00 p.m. of the second business day after the date of delivery;
(c) Mailed notice. The notice mailed by the company may not include a scheduled discontinuation date that is earlier than 5:00 p.m. of the third business day after the date of mailing. The date of mailing is not the first day of the notice period; or
(d) Telephone notice. The company must attempt at least two times to contact the customer during regular business hours. If the company is unable to reach the customer on the first attempt, the company must attempt to contact the customer using any business or message number provided by the customer as a contact number. The company must keep a log or record of the calls for a minimum of ninety calendar days showing the telephone number called, the time of the call, and details of the results of each attempted call. The disconnection must not take place before 5:00 p.m. of the next business day after the phone calls or attempts.
(e) A company need not attempt personal contact as provided for in (a) through (d) of this subsection when the company has had cause, in any two previous billing periods during a consecutive twelve-month period, to attempt such contact and the company has notified the customer in writing that such contact will not be attempted in the future before effecting a discontinuation of services.
(9) Except in case of danger to life or property, companies may not discontinue service on days that it is not fully staffed to discuss discontinuation and reestablish service to the customer on the same or the following day.
(10) When the company has reasonable grounds to believe that service is to other than the party of record, the company must make reasonable efforts to inform the occupants at the service address of the impending discontinuation. Upon request of one or more service users, the company must allow a minimum period of five business days to permit the service user to arrange for continued service.
The company is not required to allow the additional five days when a thorough investigation indicates there is deceptive activity at the service address.
(11) LECs must provide notice of pending local service discontinuation to the secretary, Washington state department of social and health services, and to the customer, where it provides service to a facility with resident patients including, but not limited to, hospitals, medical clinics, or nursing homes. Upon request from the secretary or a designee, the company must allow a delay in discontinuation of no less than five business days from the date of notice so that the department may take whatever steps are necessary in its view to protect the interests of patients living within the facilities.
(12) Remedy and appeals. The company must not discontinue or restrict service while a customer is pursuing any remedy or appeal provided for by these rules, if the customer pays any amounts not in dispute when due and the customer corrects any conditions posing a danger to health, safety, or property. The company must inform the customer of these provisions when the customer is referred to a company's supervisor or the commission.
During a dispute a company may, upon authorization from commission staff, discontinue service when a customer's toll charges substantially exceed the amount of any deposit or customary use and it appears the customer may incur excessive, uncollectible toll charges while an appeal is being pursued. A customer whose service is subject to discontinuation may maintain service pending resolution of any dispute upon payment of outstanding toll charges subject to refund if the dispute is resolved in the customer's favor.
(13) Payment at a payment agency. Payment of any past-due amounts to a designated payment agency of the company constitutes payment to the company when the customer informs the company of the payment and the company verifies the payment.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 80.36.010, 80.36.110, 80.36.320, 80.36.330, 80.36.333, 80.36.338, 80.01.040 and 80.04.160. WSR 07-08-027 (Docket UT-060676, General Order R-540), § 480-120-172, filed 3/27/07, effective 4/27/07. Statutory Authority: RCW 80.01.040 and 80.04.160. WSR 05-03-031 (Docket No. UT 040015, General Order No. R-516), § 480-120-172, filed 1/10/05, effective 2/10/05; WSR 03-01-065 (Docket No. UT-990146, General Order No. R-507), § 480-120-172, filed 12/12/02, effective 7/1/03.]
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