Verizon agrees to settle with PSC for $2 million
Telephone giant Verizon Florida agreed to refund customers $1.75 millon and pay the state another $250,000 Tuesday as a result of a settlement agreement with the state's utility regulators who wanted to punish the company for poor service.
At the urging of Florida Attorney General Bill McCollumn and AARP, the Public Service Commission in January accused Verizon of failing to restore landline phone service to customers in 2007 and 2008 and for failing to provide discounts to customers eligible for the state's Lifeline program, the financial assistance program for the elderly and low income Floridians.
A PSC analysis found that Verizon failed to follow through on repairs on its landline phones, resulting in extended phone service outages for customers. There were 262 apparent violations in 2007 and 194 in 2008.
The commission agreed to split the $250,000 going to the state, with $125,000 given to promote Lifeline Assistance, the discount telephone program gives eligible customers credits of up to $13.50 per month on local phone bills, and $125,000 given to the state's General Revenue Fund. The money given to Lifeline was sought by the legislature's Hispanic Caucus in a letter to the commission on Monday from caucus chairman Rep. Steve Bovo, R-Hialeah.
Verizon also agreed to provide Lifeline discounts to all eligible customers who request the discount and receive regulated telecommunications service packages. Verizon had previously denied Lifeline discounts to customers that purchased the company’s bundled packages. Verizon customers eligible for Lifeline service should contact the company, or visit the PSC’s Web site to sign up, www.floridapsc.com.