UPDATE - 18,700 Ameritech Customers Affected by Billing Glitch

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Title: 18,700 Ameritech customers affected by billing glitch

Company to give credits for 5-cents-a-minute calls

By Lee Bergquist of the Journal Sentinel staff Last Updated: May 16, 2000

A total of 18,700 customers of Ameritech in the new 262 area code were charged incorrectly because of a billing glitch last month, state regulators said Tuesday.

From April 20 to 22, customers in the affected area were billed5 cents a minute for calls that should have cost only a nickel for the entire call. In some cases, people who made repeated calls to their Internet service providers and spent time online were surprised to see the calls billed by the minute.

According to the State Public Service Commission, the mistake cost customers about $96,000. The problem stemmed from changes made during a monthly upgrade to the company's computerized billing system.

All incorrect bills will be credited by today,the agency was told by Ameritech. Ameritech said it plans to mail letters to affected customers on Friday, notifying them of the mistake, and explaining that their bills will be credited.

"We apologize for the inconvenience, and we are taking steps as soon as possible to correct the situation," Ameritech spokeswoman Jody Juckem said.

"It's a relatively small number of customers, and we are crediting customers."

Customers in the 262 area code include almost everyone outside of Milwaukee County who formerly had the 414 area code. That involves customers in Waukesha, Washington, Ozaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties.

Ameritech has 2.2 million customers in Wisconsin.

The mistake is the latest in a string of incidents involving Ameritech and its delivery of service to its customers.

Last October, Ameritech acknowledged software glitches brought on by the introduction of the 262 area code starting Sept. 25. About 15,000 customers received per-minute charges for calls between 262 and 414 - when the calls should have been local.

Listings in Ameritech's government section of the phone book issued last November were so riddled with errors that Ameritech agreed to reprint the section and hand-deliver it for free in February.

Ameritech also came under criticism for a lack of a 911 line that delayed the Cedarburg Police Department from moving into its new police station for about a month.

Appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on May 17, 2000.



-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), May 17, 2000

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