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SF 833

as introduced - 85th Legislature (2007 - 2008) Posted on 12/15/2009 12:00am

KEY: stricken = removed, old language.
underscored = added, new language.
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A bill for an act
relating to telecommunications; enacting the Minnesota Wireless Telephone
Consumer Protection Act; changing certain existing requirements; amending
Minnesota Statutes 2006, section 237.665; proposing coding for new law in
Minnesota Statutes, chapter 325F; repealing Minnesota Statutes 2006, section
325F.695.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:

Section 1.

Minnesota Statutes 2006, section 237.665, is amended to read:


237.665 PROHIBITION AGAINST BILLING FOR UNAUTHORIZED
CHARGES.

(a) A telephone company or telecommunications carrier providing local service shall
not include on a customer's bill a charge for goods or services on behalf of a deleted text beginthird-party
service provider
deleted text endnew text begin third partynew text end unless the deleted text beginthird-party service providerdeleted text endnew text begin third partynew text end has obtained
the customer's prior express authorization to include such charges on the customer's bill.new text begin If
a telephone company or telecommunications carrier providing local service includes a
charge for goods or services on behalf of a third party on a customer's bill, the telephone
company or telecommunications carrier must provide a contact number for the third party
and a brief description of each third-party good or service billed.
new text end

(b) If a customer of a telephone company or telecommunications carrier notifies the
telephone company or telecommunications carrier that an unauthorized charge from a
deleted text begin third-party service providerdeleted text endnew text begin third partynew text end has been included on the customer's bill, then the
telephone company or telecommunications carrier shall remove the unauthorized charge.
The telephone company or telecommunications carrier shall credit to the customer any
amounts paid for the unauthorized charges that were billed by the telephone company or
telecommunications carrier during the six months prior to the customer's complaint, unless
the deleted text beginthird-party service providerdeleted text endnew text begin third partynew text end can produce within 14 calendar days of the
complaint evidence to the customer and the telephone company or the telecommunications
carrier of prior express authorization by the customer.

(c) A deleted text beginthird-party service providerdeleted text endnew text begin third partynew text end meets the prior express authorization
requirements of this section only if it obtains or receives a customer's written authorization
in the form of a letter of agency, a customer's oral authorization verified by an independent
third party, or a copy of an e-mail notice of verification as described in clause (3).

(1) If the deleted text beginthird-party service providerdeleted text endnew text begin third partynew text end obtains the customer's written
authorization in the form of a letter of agency, it must be a separate or easily separable
document. The sole purpose of the letter of agency shall be to authorize a charge for goods
or services to appear on the customer's telephone bill. The letter of agency must be of
sufficient size to be clearly legible and must contain clear and unambiguous language that
contains separate statements for each good or service for which the customer is agreeing
to be billed. The letter of agency must be signed and dated by the customer.

(2) If the customer's authorization is oral, the authorization must be verified by an
independent third-party verifier. The verification is valid only if:

(i) the independent third party confirms the customer's identity with information
unique to the customer unless the customer refuses, then that fact must be noted; and

(ii) the independent third party informs the customer that the customer is agreeing to
be billed for goods or services that will appear as a charge on the customer's telephone bill.

(3) If a customer enters a contract via the Internet with a deleted text beginthird-party service providerdeleted text endnew text begin
third party
new text end for goods or services which are charged to the bill issued by the customer's
telephone company or telecommunications carrier providing local service, the deleted text beginthird-party
service provider
deleted text endnew text begin third partynew text end must, within 48 hours of receiving the customer's authorization,
send the customer, via e-mail, a notice of verification confirming the authorization. The
deleted text begin third-party service providerdeleted text endnew text begin third partynew text end shall maintain a copy of the notice of verification
for the duration of the contract as a record of the customer's express authorization to be
charged for the goods or services on the customer's telephone bill for local service.

(d) For direct-dialed calls, where the call itself represents the service for which the
charge is placed on a customer's local telephone bill, such as "900 number" services and
"dial around" services, evidence that the call was placed from the number that is subject to
the telephone bill shall be considered sufficient evidence of authorization for that call for
billing authorization purposes established in this section. Nothing in this section shall be
construed to change a telephone company's or telecommunication carrier's obligations or
affect a telephone subscriber's rights under section 325F.692.

(e) This section does not apply to charges for collect calls.

(f) Nothing in this section restricts the right of a telephone company or
telecommunications carrier to seek to recover from a deleted text beginthird-party service providerdeleted text endnew text begin third
party
new text end unauthorized charges credited to the customer by the telephone company or
telecommunications carrier.

Sec. 2.

new text begin [325F.696] MINNESOTA WIRELESS TELEPHONE CONSUMER
PROTECTION ACT.
new text end

new text begin Subdivision 1. new text end

new text begin Definitions. new text end

new text begin (a) The definitions in this subdivision apply to this
section.
new text end

new text begin (b) "Wireless carrier" means a wireless telecommunications service.
new text end

new text begin (c) "Wireless telecommunications service" means commercial mobile radio service
as defined in Code of Federal Regulations, title 47, part 20.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 2. new text end

new text begin Required disclosures. new text end

new text begin (a) Wireless carriers providing wireless
telecommunications service pursuant to contract in the state must:
new text end

new text begin (1) provide the customer, at the time of sale, with a coverage map that accurately
depicts the area where service is provided and that identifies areas where any roaming or
additional charges would apply to the customer's service;
new text end

new text begin (2) make accurate coverage maps available to prospective and existing customers at
any location where the carrier's wireless telecommunications service is sold and make
those maps available electronically at the carrier's Web site if one is established;
new text end

new text begin (3) clearly disclose at the time of sale the price for the service being purchased
by the customer, including any variable charges such as roaming charges or charges
for exceeding a specified number of minutes, and disclose a good faith estimate of all
applicable government-authorized or required taxes and fees;
new text end

new text begin (4) clearly disclose to the customer at the time of sale, in bold face, capital letters
and at least 12-point font, that the price is not guaranteed to remain the same for the entire
term of the contract if the contract allows the wireless carrier to change the price of the
service during the contract term;
new text end

new text begin (5) prior to the execution of a written contract for wireless telephone service, provide
the consumer the terms of the contract, in writing, and after execution of the contract,
provide the customer with a copy of the executed contract at the time of sale and thereafter
upon the customer's request; and
new text end

new text begin (6) clearly disclose any termination fee and change-in-term provisions in a wireless
service contract, and obtain specific, written acknowledgment from the customer that the
customer has read and understands those provisions in the contract.
new text end

new text begin (b) Each executed contract must include a provision indicating that the customer
has received the information required by paragraph (a).
new text end

new text begin (c) If a customer is purchasing service over the Internet or by telephone, the wireless
carrier may provide the disclosures and a copy of the contract and obtain customer
acknowledgments in electronic form or through the use of a third-party verification, if
the carrier sends the customer a paper copy of the required information, including the
contract, within seven days after the purchase of the wireless telecommunications service
unless the customer expressly opts not to receive the paper version.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 3. new text end

new text begin Billing; listing of government taxes and fees. new text end

new text begin All bills for wireless
telecommunications services must list government-mandated charges in a section of
the bill separate from the section or sections listing the price and any other charges for
the wireless telecommunications service. The wireless carrier must include a brief,
easy-to-understand description of each charge included on the bill.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 4. new text end

new text begin Billing for third-party goods and services. new text end

new text begin (a) A wireless carrier must
not include on a customer's bill a charge for goods or services on behalf of a third party
unless the third party has obtained the customer's prior express authorization to include
those charges on the customer's bill issued by the wireless carrier. If a wireless carrier
includes a charge for goods or services on behalf of a third party on a customer's bill, the
wireless carrier must provide a contact number for the third party and a brief description
of each third-party good or service billed.
new text end

new text begin (b) If a customer of a wireless carrier notifies the wireless carrier that an unauthorized
charge from a third party has been included on the customer's bill, the wireless carrier
must remove the unauthorized charge. The wireless carrier must credit to the customer any
amounts paid for the unauthorized charges that were billed by the wireless carrier during
the six months prior to the customer's complaint, unless the third party can produce within
14 calendar days of the complaint evidence to the customer and the wireless carrier of
prior express authorization by the customer.
new text end

new text begin (c) A third party meets the prior express authorization requirements of this
subdivision only if it obtains or receives a customer's written authorization in the form of a
letter of agency, a customer's oral authorization verified by an independent third party, or a
copy of an e-mail notice of verification as described in clause (3).
new text end

new text begin (1) If the third party obtains the customer's written authorization in the form of a
letter of agency, it must be a separate or easily separable document. The sole purpose of
the letter of agency must be to authorize a charge for goods or services to appear on the
customer's wireless telephone bill. The letter of agency must be of sufficient size to be
clearly legible and must contain clear and unambiguous language that contains separate
statements for each good or service for which the customer is agreeing to be billed. The
letter of agency must be signed and dated by the customer.
new text end

new text begin (2) If the customer's authorization is oral, the authorization must be verified by an
independent third-party verifier. The verification is valid only if:
new text end

new text begin (i) the independent third party confirms the customer's identity with information
unique to the customer unless the customer refuses, which refusal must be noted; and
new text end

new text begin (ii) the independent third party informs the customer that the customer is agreeing
to be billed for goods or services that will appear as a charge on the customer's wireless
telephone bill.
new text end

new text begin (3) If a customer enters a contract via the Internet with a third party for goods or
services that are charged to the bill issued by the customer's wireless carrier, the third
party must, within 48 hours of receiving the customer's authorization, send the customer,
via e-mail, a notice of verification confirming the authorization. The third party must
maintain a copy of the notice of verification for the duration of the contract as a record
of the customer's express authorization to be charged for the goods or services on the
customer's wireless telephone bill.
new text end

new text begin (d) For direct-dialed calls, where the call itself represents the service for which the
charge is placed on a customer's wireless telephone bill, such as "900 number" services
and "dial around" services, evidence that the call was placed from the number that is
subject to the wireless telephone bill is sufficient evidence of authorization for that call for
billing authorization purposes established in this subdivision. Nothing in this subdivision
may be construed to change obligations or affect rights under section 325F.692.
new text end

new text begin (e) This subdivision does not apply to charges for collect calls.
new text end

new text begin (f) Nothing in this subdivision restricts the right of a wireless carrier to seek to
recover from a third party unauthorized charges credited to the customer by the wireless
carrier.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 5. new text end

new text begin FCC contact information. new text end

new text begin All bills for wireless service must notify the
customer that if the customer is unable to resolve a billing or service question with the
wireless carrier, the customer may contact the Federal Communications Commission
(FCC). The bill and contract must list the contact information for the FCC, including a
toll-free telephone number, mailing address, and Web site information.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 6. new text end

new text begin Extensions in contract length. new text end

new text begin If a customer requests a new good or
service in connection with or a change in a term of an existing wireless service contract
and the new good, service, or change will result in the wireless carrier extending the
length of the wireless service contract, the wireless carrier must specifically disclose to the
customer that the requested change will result in an extension of the contract and disclose
the length of the extension and the new minimum contract period.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 7. new text end

new text begin Remedies; penalties; enforcement. new text end

new text begin A violation of this section is a
violation of a law referred to in section 8.31, subdivision 1.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 8. new text end

new text begin Severability. new text end

new text begin Each of the provisions of this section, and each application
of a provision to particular circumstances, is severable. If a provision or application is
found to be contrary to law and unenforceable, it is the intention of the legislature that the
remaining provisions and applications of this section remain valid and enforceable to the
full extent possible under section 645.20.
new text end

Sec. 3. new text begin REPEALER.
new text end

new text begin Minnesota Statutes 2006, section 325F.695, new text end new text begin is repealed.
new text end