Windstream suing Nebraska commission over requirement for prorated customer refunds

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Windstream suing Neb. agency over billing rule

LINCOLN, Neb. — Windstream Corp., which has thousands of telecommunications customers in Nebraska, has sued the state’s Public Service Commission over new rules on customer refunds.

Windstream said in a lawsuit filed in Lancaster County District Court last week that the commission exceeded its authority in changing regulations regarding final bills.

The new rule, which took effect this month, puts into regulation a longtime policy governing Nebraska’s telecommunications companies: that they immediately stop billing customers who cancel services. The companies must provide prorated refunds.

Windstream stopped doing that in January.

Windstream said in its lawsuit that the rule interferes with “Windstream’s legal rights and privileges to bill for its telecommunications services on a monthly basis.”

Company spokesman David Avery said Windstream’s new procedure makes billing easier. He told the Lincoln Journal Star that “billing through the end of the bill cycle reduces confusion for partial-month service charges when customers add, change or remove services.”

Avery also said the rule change on billing goes beyond the PSC’s authority, which Windstream said is limited to setting rates.

PSC Commissioner Frank Landis said the commission had run the rule change past the attorney general and governor before adopting it, so the commissioners were certain they were on firm regulatory ground.

The commission “didn’t like the concept of somebody being billed for a service that isn’t provided,” Landis said.

Under Windstream’s billing procedure, a customer who changed to a new telecommunications provider in the middle of the month would be charged by the new company from the middle of the month and by Windstream for the entire month, Landis said.

Little Rock, Ark.-based Windstream operates in 21 states. It serves 235,000 customers in 22 counties in southeast Nebraska.


Windstream Corp.:

Nebraska PSC:

Information from: Lincoln Journal Star,

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