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Detariffing gives consumers new rights

Tip of the Week archives from July 2001

Subscribers to regular long distance services will probably be getting, or have already received, a notice from your long distance company explaining that some Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules have changed. The changes will affect how you and your long distance company interact. The notice may also include, or make reference to, an agreement that will now be in place between you and your long distance carrier. The reason for these notices is something called "detariffing."

A potential detariffing benefit is that consumers are supposed to be informed in advance of rate and fee changes for interstate long distance. Carriers can no longer hide behind the old tariff rules. Up until July 31, 2001 long distance carriers were allowed to increase U.S. rates without notifying you (by federal rules-- however your state may have already had better laws). If consumers are surprised by rate increases in the future, some expensive class action lawsuits are likely to come up. It may take some lawsuits or new government regulations to make sure consumers actually get informed. For information on how long distance companies are making it hard to know about rate and fee changes, read part two of this series (linked to at top and bottom of page).

The most interesting area is 10-10 plans. Will contract law ever apply to so-called casual users* even if they use the plans on a regular basis? How about 10-10 plans that you have to sign up for in advance? Will the 10-10 plans work out an agreement with local phone companies to provide regular users notice of rate changes with your local phone bill? My opinion is that many phone companies will not go out of their way to help consumers unless the courts make them. Specifically, the FCC has not imposed the new rules on dial around services. The reason given is "...it would be impossible or impracticable for carriers to establish contractual relationships with customers."

Fortunately, most of the dial around plans listed on this website have promised to keep me updated on any rate changes. (10-10-345 is a notable exception, but I check their website and automated voice system regularly). So you can at least check here for updates.

To learn more about detariffing, including five consumer tips from the FCC, tips for high-volume business users, website rate posting requirements and how international rates will be affected, click to my detariffing tips page.

* The term "casual users" refers to users of 10-10 dial around plans because they generally do not have to sign up in advance and can use the plans whenever they feel like dialing the 10-10 code.

For archives of selected 10-10 Tips and consumer alerts, click to the Site Map page.

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