The Idaho Public Utilities Commission has turned down US WEST Communication's request to extend its express service for telephone connections into that state.
The express service allows customers to receive guaranteed same-day or next-day connections for an additional fee above the normal installation charge.US WEST spokeswoman Carol Dunlap said the company was surprised by the Idaho action, noting that the service is already being offered in several states serviced by the company, including Utah.
Dunlap said the service was introduced in Utah last August and has been received favorably. In a typical week, US WEST receives 6,000 new connection requests in Utah of which about 4,000 are eligible for the express service.
Typically, about 150 will request same-day service and about 175 will opt for next-day service. If the company fails to make the connection by 6 p.m. on the requested date, the customer receives double his money back.
"We've been able to meet our goal about 99 percent of the time," Dunlap said.
The regular hookup fee is $29.50 for basic service and $37.50 when custom calling features such as call waiting are requested. For another $22, customers can receive same-day connection. Next-day service is an additional $17.
Dunlap said the company strives to meet a two-business-day time frame for all connection requests.
"We don't believe this is a discriminatory service for those who have money," Dunlap said.
"People make their own judgment on what is important to them. For some, especially those in business, a quick connection is very important.
"We've always tried to offer two-day access to our customers," Dunlap continued.
"This allows them to receive service faster but only if they are willing to pay the added cost of that service. It doesn't interfere with our normal business."
In its ruling, the Idaho commission said, "The right to connect to the basic exchange network is not up for auction, and we decline to begin fragmenting society's access to the network by allowing jumping ahead in the queue. Prompt connection is every customer's right, not merely those paying a premium."
The Idaho commissioners noted that US WEST service appears to be quite prompt in its present state and expressed concern that allowing the express service concept would eliminate any incentive for the company to improve on its present two-business-day average for its basic connection service.
The commission said ratepayers have financed many technological improvements and they should be able to reap the benefits of those improvements without having to pay an additional fee.