Telephone giant Verizon Florida agreed to refund customers $1.75 million 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 McCollum and the 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 Assistance program, a financial aid program for elderly and low-income Floridians.
A PSC analysis found that Verizon failed to follow through on landline phone repairs, 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 and $125,000 given to the state's general revenue fund.
The Lifeline program gives eligible customers credits of up to $13.50 per month on local phone bills.
Verizon also agreed to provide Lifeline discounts to all eligible customers who request it and receive regulated telecommunications service packages. Verizon had previously denied Lifeline discounts to customers who purchased the company's bundled packages.
Verizon customers eligible for Lifeline service should contact the company, or visit the PSC's Web site, www.floridapsc.com, to sign up.