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A lawsuit against CoreComm Voyager, Inc
. for violating Wisconsin's telecommunications laws was settled last week by the state attorney general.
CoreComm, a Delaware corporation, provides dial-up internet access and related services to Wisconsin customers, many of whom originally subscribed to ExecPC, a Wisconsin-based internet provider subsequently acquired by CoreComm.
The lawsuit, filed in Dane County Circuit Court, alleged that CoreComm failed to clearly disclose to its customers important changes it made to its subscription terms, such as deeming accounts to automatically renew unless the customer cancels and limiting the means by which a customer can cancel a subscription.
Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager applauded the settlement as an important victory for internet service customers in Wisconsin. "Companies are entitled to change their policies, but they must clearly communicate those changes to their customers so that they do not become traps for the unwary," she said.
CoreComm's actions generated numerous complaints from its subscribers, many of whom, the suit alleged, were improperly charged fees for continuing service even though they had attempted to cancel their subscription.
Although CoreComm filed for bankruptcy protection after the suit was filed, the state negotiated a settlement under which CoreComm must provide refunds and halt collections activities with respect to certain customers. Under the terms of the settlement, CoreComm must provide credits or refunds to customers who have filed written complaints with the state alleging that CoreComm continued to charge them for internet use even though they had attempted to cancel their subscription and had stopped using their account, except on a minimal basis.
CoreComm customers who believe they are entitled to refunds or credits must file a written complaint with the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection by December 23, 2005 (complaint forms can be downloaded from the DATCP website
or call 1-800-422-7128). To be eligible for credits or refunds, consumers must have attempted to cancel their subscriptions prior to October 24, 2005.
In addition to providing refunds to consumers who have filed complaints, CoreComm must also take reasonable steps to identify and automatically provide refunds to customers who began their subscriptions with ExecPC and who attempted to cancel their subscriptions but were assessed continuing charges or termination fees despite the fact that they stopped using their accounts.
CoreComm must also halt all collection efforts relating to the charges, fees or penalties that it must credit or refund.
Dane County Circuit Court Judge Stuart Schwartz approved the settlement and entered judgment on October 24, 2005. Assistant Attorney General John Greene represented the state.