Utah telephone customers who had inside wiring maintenance contracts with US WEST Communications between 1982 and 1989 should watch the mail this week.
Those eligible for a share of a $100,000 refund ordered by the U.S. District Court in Santa Fe, N.M., should receive applications in the mail during that period."You can only get paid if you fill out and return the form," said attorney Gary Duncan, who handled the class-action lawsuit that affects up to five million US WEST customers. "It only takes a few minutes to complete."
The $100,000 is Utahns' share of the settlement. Individual US WEST customers could receive refunds of up to $64.
The class-action suit was initiated on behalf of US WEST customers because the company automatically added a service charge to bills without giving customers the option to reject the service. The company denied the allegations but agreed to a settlement after extensive negotiations.
Residential and single-line business customers that actually received service calls during the specified period are not eligible for the refund. The amount of each refund will vary depending on the type of wire-maintenance service and the length of time the customer was charged for the service.
US WEST has since stopped billing customers for the service automatically. Customers still have the option of voluntarily subscribing to the service, however.
The court order also directs US WEST to identify certain optional services for which customers are paying on their bills. A customer may cancel these at any time.
Former US WEST customers may use a form that will be published in newspapers or may call 1-800-352-2241 to request a claim form. Former customers may received refunds; current customers may receive a credit on their phone bills.