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Three More Companies That Charged Vermonters’ Phone Bills Settle With Attorney General

CONTACT: Elliot Burg, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-5507

March 29, 2012

Three companies that charged local consumers and businesses on their telephone bills for services to which many of the affected Vermonters say they did not consent have entered into settlements with the Vermont Attorney General’s Office, bringing to 17 the number of such settlements since mid-March of 2011. Together, the three firms billed over 1,100 Vermont consumers and businesses over $260,000, all of which must be refunded, if that has not already been done. In addition, each will pay the State of Vermont $10,000 in penalties and costs.

Attorney General William H. Sorrell said that his Office is continuing to crack down on past instances of “cramming,” or the placing of unauthorized inadequately-noticed charges on local telephone bills. “Last year we successfully worked with the Legislature on a change in state law that bans these kinds of charges; but before that went into effect, many Vermonters had no idea that they could be billed for non-telephone services by their local phone carriers,” he added.

In all three cases, the charging company failed to comply fully with a Vermont statute requiring that notice be mailed to consumers and businesses before charges appear on their local telephone bills. That law has now been strengthened to ban most such charges outright, the first such law in the country.

In addition, all of the companies used what the Attorney General’s Office considered to be a deceptive telemarketing script, which stated that the purpose of the call was not to sell a service (which it was), but to update the prospective customer’s online listing.

The settling companies are:

  • Small Business Tech Solutions, based in Schaumburg, Illinois, which charged approximately $55,000 to 481 Vermont businesses for computer support between 2008 and 2010.
  • USB Organization, Inc., based in San Francisco, California, which charged over $66,000 to 559 Vermont businesses for internet access and website address services between 2008 and 2010.
  • US, based in Boca Raton, Florida, which charged over $150,000 to 511 Vermont businesses for internet advertising and related services between 2004 and 2007.
  • To date, the Attorney General’s initiative has resulted in 17 settlements providing for more than $1,200,000 in refunds to over 11,000 Vermont consumers and businesses.

    For more information on the settlements, call the Attorney General’s Office at (802) 828-5507.

      Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.