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HF 635

4th Committee Engrossment - 85th Legislature (2007 - 2008) Posted on 12/22/2009 12:37pm

KEY: stricken = removed, old language.
underscored = added, new language.
1.1A bill for an act
1.2relating to telecommunications; enacting the Minnesota Wireless Telephone
1.3Consumer Protection Act; proposing coding for new law in Minnesota Statutes,
1.4chapter 325F; repealing Minnesota Statutes 2006, section 325F.695.

1.8    Subdivision 1. Definitions. (a) The definitions in this subdivision apply to this
1.10    (b) "Customer" means an individual consumer purchasing wireless
1.11telecommunications service, or a business or corporate entity making a bulk purchase of
1.12wireless telecommunications service for use by its employees.
1.13    (c) "Government-mandated charges and taxes" means any taxes, fees, and other
1.14charges that a wireless carrier is legally required to collect directly from consumers and
1.15to remit to federal, state, or local governments, or to third parties authorized by such
1.16governments, for the administration of government programs. "Government-mandated
1.17charges and taxes" does not include discretionary charges authorized, but not required by,
1.18government action.
1.19    (d) "Wireless carrier" means a provider of wireless telecommunications service.
1.20    (e) "Wireless telecommunications service" means commercial mobile radio service
1.21as defined in Code of Federal Regulations, title 47, part 20.
1.22    Subd. 2. Required disclosures. (a) Wireless carriers providing wireless
1.23telecommunications service, other than prepaid per minute service that does not require a
1.24minimum term agreement from the customer, in the state must:
2.1    (1) provide the customer, at the time of sale, with a coverage map showing where
2.2service is generally available and that identifies areas where any domestic roaming or
2.3additional charges would apply to the customer's service;
2.4    (2) make coverage maps showing where service is generally available to
2.5prospective and existing customers at any location where the wireless carrier's
2.6wireless telecommunications service is offered for sale and make those maps available
2.7electronically at the carrier's Web site;
2.8    (3) clearly and conspicuously disclose at the time of sale the price for the service
2.9being purchased by the customer, including the monthly access fee or base charge,
2.10the amount of any activation or initiation fee, any charges for domestic roaming, any
2.11charge for domestic long distance, any charge for exceeding the number of minutes
2.12or usage included in any allowance, and any other charges collected and retained by
2.13the carrier and disclose a good faith estimate of the amount or range of all applicable
2.14government-mandated or authorized charges and taxes;
2.15    (4) clearly and conspicuously disclose to the customer at the time of sale, in at least
2.1612-point font in written materials: (i) that the price is not guaranteed to remain the same
2.17for the minimum term of the contract if a contract provision allows the wireless carrier to
2.18change the price of the service during the minimum term, and (ii) any early termination
2.19fee that applies if service is terminated during the minimum term; and
2.20    (5) prior to the execution of a contract for wireless telephone service, provide
2.21the customer the terms of the contract, and after execution of the contract provide the
2.22customer with a copy of the writing or writings constituting the contract, at the time of
2.23sale and thereafter upon the customer's request.
2.24    (b) With regard to any early termination fee provisions or provisions allowing the
2.25wireless carrier to change the price of the service during the minimum contract term,
2.26the wireless carrier must obtain a specific acknowledgment from the customer that the
2.27customer has read and understands the provisions.
2.28    Subd. 3. Billing; listing of government taxes and fees. All bills for wireless
2.29telecommunications services must list government-mandated charges and taxes in a
2.30section of the bill separate from the section or sections listing the price and any other
2.31charges for the wireless telecommunications service. The wireless carrier must include
2.32a brief, easy-to-understand description of each charge included in the bill. The wireless
2.33carrier must not represent, expressly or by implication, that discretionary cost recovery
2.34fees or charges are government-mandated charges and taxes.
2.35    Subd. 4. Billing for third-party goods and services. (a) A wireless carrier must
2.36not include on a customer's bill a charge for goods or services that the carrier bills on
3.1behalf of a third party unless the wireless carrier has obtained the customer's prior express
3.2authorization to include those charges on the customer's bill issued by the wireless carrier.
3.3    (b) If a customer of a wireless carrier disputes any third-party charge appearing on
3.4that customer's wireless bill, the customer shall not be obligated to pay the disputed charge
3.5until the wireless carrier provides evidence of the customer's prior express authorization
3.6to include such charge. Evidence of the customer's prior express authorization must be
3.7produced to the customer within 60 calendar days after the customer notifies the wireless
3.8carrier that the charge is disputed. A customer shall be permitted to dispute any charges
3.9that a wireless carrier bills on behalf of a third party for up to six months after the charge
3.10appears on the customer's wireless bill. If the wireless carrier cannot produce evidence
3.11that the customer authorized the third-party charge, the wireless carrier must remove the
3.12charge from the customer's wireless bill and credit the customer for the unauthorized
3.13third-party charges incurred during the previous six months.
3.14    (c) A wireless carrier meets the prior express authorization requirements of this
3.15subdivision only if it obtains or receives authorization from the customer containing
3.16clear, unambiguous, and separate authorizations for each third-party good or service to be
3.17included on the customer's bill.
3.18    (d) Nothing in this subdivision restricts the right of a wireless carrier to seek to
3.19recover from a third party unauthorized charges credited to the customer by the wireless
3.21    Subd. 5. Extensions in contract length. (a) If a customer is offered, accepts, or
3.22requests a good, service, or promotion or changes the customer's wireless service plan in
3.23any manner, and this good, service, promotion, or change will result in the extension of
3.24the minimum contract term or create a new contract with a minimum term, the wireless
3.25carrier must disclose to the customer at the point of sale or acceptance that the requested
3.26good, service, promotion, or change will result in a contract extension or creation of a new
3.27contract with a minimum term, and must further disclose the length of the extension or
3.28new term.
3.29    (b) If the customer and a representative of the carrier are personally present at
3.30the point of sale or acceptance, the wireless provider must also in connection with the
3.31new good, service, promotion, or change obtain the customer's signed consent in an
3.32independent document. The independent document must only include the terms set forth
3.33in clauses (1) to (3) and must clearly and conspicuously disclose in at least 14-point font:
3.34    (1) that the new good, service, promotion, or change will result in an extension or
3.35renewal of the customer's contract;
3.36    (2) the new contract start and end dates; and
4.1    (3) that failure to complete the new contract term may result in early termination
4.2fees and, if so, the amount of the fees.
4.3    (c) If the customer's consent is obtained via the Internet, the wireless provider must
4.4disclose in at least 14-point font the terms listed in paragraph (b), clauses (1) to (3). The
4.5customer must provide a valid electronic signature showing that the wireless provider has
4.6disclosed and the customer has agreed to the extension or renewal of the contract. An
4.7electronic record must be available upon request to the customer until the new contract
4.8term expires.
4.9    (d) If the customer's consent is obtained orally, the wireless provider must clearly
4.10disclose the terms listed in paragraph (b), clauses (1) to (3), and the customer's consent
4.11to each term must be recorded and retained by the provider and be made available upon
4.12request to the customer until the new contract term expires.
4.13    (e) Within ten days after a customer's contract has been extended or renewed, the
4.14wireless service provider must notify the customer in an independent writing that the
4.15contract has been extended or renewed. The independent writing must only include the
4.16terms set forth in clauses (1) to (3) and must clearly and conspicuously disclose in at
4.17least 14-point font:
4.18    (1) that the new good, service, promotion, or change will result in an extension or
4.19renewal of the customer's contract;
4.20    (2) the new contract start and end dates; and
4.21    (3) that failure to complete the new contract term may result in early termination
4.22fees and, if so, the amount of the fees.
4.23    (f) Failure of the provider to make any of the disclosures or to obtain any of
4.24the consents required in this subdivision voids any contract extension covered by this
4.26    Subd. 6. Remedies; penalties, enforcement. A violation of this section is a
4.27violation of a law referred to in section 8.31, subdivision 1.
4.28    Subd. 7. Severability. Each of the provisions of this section, and each application
4.29of a provision to particular circumstances, is severable. If a provision or application is
4.30found to be contrary to law and unenforceable, it is the intention of the legislature that the
4.31remaining provisions and applications of this section remain valid and enforceable to the
4.32full extent possible under section 645.20.

4.33    Sec. 2. REPEALER.
4.34Minnesota Statutes 2006, section 325F.695, is repealed.

5.1    Sec. 3. EFFECTIVE DATE.
5.2    Section 1 is effective August 1, 2008, except that subdivision 4 is effective March
5.31, 2009.