BCTC - Rights and Responsibilities for Residential Customers

Residential Telephone Customers

This information is provided in accordance with the rules of the Michigan Public Service Commission and explains your rights and responsiblities as a residential telephone customer. These obligations on the part of the telephone company and the customers are covered by the Consumer Standards and Billing Practices established by the Michigan Public Service Commission.

If you would like a copy mailed to you or desire more information about your telephone service, please call your Barry County Telephone Company service representative (269-623-2311 or 269-721-9900).

Please also peruse the additional details provided by the Telecommunications Association of Michigan in TAM_Rights.pdf.

Your Telephone Bill

Once each month the telephone company will send you a bill for service. Payment of that bill is due in full 19 days after the bill is sent. The due date is printed on each bill. Under certain conditions, the telephone company can require payment one day after the bill is mailed if long distance charges are excessive compared to average usage.

How to Pay Your Bill

There are three ways to pay your telephone bill:

Payment Arrangements

If you are temporarily having trouble paying your telephone bill, immediately call your service representative and we will try to work out a reasonable payment plan for you. By doing this, you may avoid the possibility of disconnection of your phone service.

The payment plan will be based on such things as the amount you owe, your ability to pay, payment history, length of nonpayment, and the reasons why the debt has been outstanding. The payment plan may be in the form of a written settlement agreement containing a payment schedule agreed on by you and the company on how you will pay the amount due. it will be signed by you or your representative, and by a telephone company representative.

If the terms of the settlement are met, telephone service will continue as before. If not, serivce is subject to disconnection. The telephone company is not required to:

Disconnection of Service

Your telephone service is subject to disconnection for any of the reasons listed below.

When the matter is resolved, telephone service will be restored as promptly as possible. There will be a reconnection charge for restoring telephone service and a deposit may be required.

Security Deposits

Security deposits may be required from customers in the following cases:

A customer may, instead of paying a cash deposit, have another person sign a written guarantee.

Making a complaint

If you have a question or complaint about your bill or any part of your telephone service, call your service representative.

If a complaint cannot be readily resolved, the telephone company will begin an investigation. Service will be continued pending the results of the investigation. You will be advised of the results of the investigation and our attempt to solve the problem.

The company is not required to run though the same matter of dispute repeatiedly with a customer who is only trying to delay payment of telephone bills.

Michigan Public Service Commission Web Site: http://michigan.gov/mpsc/ or call 1-800-292-9555.

Hearing Procedures

If the telephone company can't resolve your complaint, you can request that the matter go before a Utility Hearing Officer. Or you may call the Consumer Services Division of the Michigan Public Service Commission toll free at (800) 292-9555. The Hearing Officer will be an impartial person assigned to mediate disputes between the telephone company and the customer, who may represent themseleves, be represented by counsel or assisted by a person of his or her choice. The Hearing Officer's actions are subject to review by the MPSC.

If you request a hearing within the prescribed time period and if the complaint involves the possible disconnection of telephone service, service will not be disconnected pending the outcome of the hearing.

You will be notified of the date, time and place of the hearing at least 10 days before the hearing. If you fail to appear without due cause or prior request for adjournment, you give up your right to the hearing and collection action will continue.

Medical emergencies

If a medical emergency exists, disconnection may be delayed for a period of up to 21 days when you present a notice from a physician, public health or social services official identifying the emergency and specifying the period of relief required.

900 Number Consumer Rights

The following consumer rights for Pay Per Call 900 service are provided under the Federal Telephone Disclosure and Dispute Resolution Act.

For billing error claims regarding 900 service charges:

Written acknowledgement of your dispute must be provided to you within 40 days of receiving your notice if:

The billing review must be completed within 90 days and

If the billing was found to be correct:

If you fail to pay the amount that is owed, you may be reported as delinquent, but:

If the above rules are not followed, the first $50 for each 900 service charge in question cannot be collected even if your bill was correct.

Collection of unpaid 900 charges may be pursued by the Interexchange Carrier or Information provider through an independent collection action.

Non-payment of 900 service charges or charges for similar types of service will not result in disconnection of you local or long distance service.

However, access to 900 numbers may be blocked for non-payment of legitimate charges.

You should not be billed for 900 services that are not offered in compliance with federal laws and regulations.

You may obtain blocking of 900 service at no charge by calling your Barry County Telephone Company customer service center at (269) 623-2311.