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Customers Might Be Billed for Three-Way Calls Without Knowing It Phone Company Charges an Extra 75 Cents for Each Call

(NEW YORK) (AP) Verizon telephone customers might be billed for three-way calls without realizing it.

Verizon spokesman John Bonomo said customers should wait at least three seconds after a phone call before making another call. Otherwise, they could trigger an unwanted three-way call. The company charges an extra 75 cents for each call.

The phone service provider began the new service in May.

Verizon told customers about making three-way calling a new option and explained how to avoid unintended charges through an insert in last month's bills, Bonomo said. Verizon will give customers who say they did not make three-way calls a one-time credit. They also can permanently block the three-way call feature at no charge.

"We haven't gotten many complaints so far," said Bonomo.

Bonomo said customers should hang up between calls to allow the telephone line to reset. If a new call is started before three seconds, customers will hear a "stutter dial tone," which means the network has concluded that the caller wants to make a three-way call.

If customers hear the stutter tone and do not want the three-way call, they should hang up, he said.

Mark Cooper of the Consumer Federation of America said the tempo of today's life leads many people to just hang up for a second before they dial their next call.

Cooper said Verizon should have required consumers to punch three numbers to initiate the three-way calling option, as they must do for other services.

The New York State Public Service Commission said it is looking into the matter since there have been complaints.

Customers who subscribe to three-way calling pay $4.15 a month. Those who use it on a per-call basis are charged 75 cents per call for a maximum monthly fee of $6.

-- K (, June 12, 2001

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