Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive

August 14, 2000

CORNYN AND PUC ANNOUNCE $200,000 SLAMMING SETTLEMENT

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn and the Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC) today announced a $200,000 settlement with Valu-Line of Longview. The company buys wholesale phone service and resells it to retail long distance and local telephone customers. The settlement resolves allegations that Valu-Line switched customers' telephone service providers without the customers' consent, a practice commonly known as "slamming."

"Texas consumers have a right to choose who they want to provide their local and long distance telephone service," said Attorney General John Cornyn. "Misleading and deceptive practices designed to take that choice away from consumers will not be tolerated."

Attorney General Cornyn alleged that Valu-Line violated the Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA) and the Public Utility Commission's rules and regulations by slamming both the local and long distance telephone service of Texas citizens. In addition, Attorney General Cornyn alleged that Valu-Line made misleading representations in order to induce consumers to switch carriers. These misrepresentations include falsely stating Valu-Line is the billing agent for another carrier and falsely stating the savings for switching their telephone services provider.

All of this conduct occurred while Valu-Line was under the ownership of Advanced Communications Group, Inc. Valu-Line was purchased by Ionex on Nov. 19, 1999. The Attorney General's office and the PUC received over 100 slamming complaints on Valu-Line between August 1998 and January 2000. In addition, the agencies received over 50 complaints regarding Valu-Line's billing practices.

Valu-Line agreed to pay a combined $140,000 to the Attorney General's Office and the Public Utility Commission as penalties and an additional $60,000 to the Attorney General's Office for its attorney's fees and investigative costs. Restitution will be made to all Valu-Line customers who were slammed. Those customers who believe they are due restitution should submit their request in writing to:

    Office of the Attorney General
    Consumer Protection Division
    PO Box 12548
    Austin, TX 78711

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Contact Mark Heckmann, Heather Browne, or Tom Kelley at (512) 463-2050
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