Over strong opposition from AARP, the Colorado Legislature passed sweeping changes as to how phone companies can do business in 2014 and beyond. These new laws — called “telecom deregulation” — may change the type of phone service available to you, how much you pay for the service, and whether you can get help from the state if you have a serious problem. Here’s what you need to know:
If You Have Telephone Service –
From CenturyLink or another traditional “wired” telephone company
• The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) no longer oversees the rates or service quality of your phone company.
• You may see price increases for your “basic service” (dial tone plus local usage), as of July 2016.
• The prices for other charges on your bill, like caller ID or call waiting, can be increased immediately, and at any time.
• Your phone company can stop providing service in most areas of the state, as of July 2016. Only some rural areas will be protected against such service terminations.
From Comcast, another cable company, or using your Internet connection
• Colorado PUC doesn’t oversee the rates, terms, conditions, or service quality provided to you.
From mobile wireless (“cell phone”) service
• Colorado PUC does not oversee the rates, terms or conditions, or service quality provided to you.
What to Do If You Have a Problem?
If you have questions or complaints about your phone rates or service, first contact your phone company. If your problem is not resolved, you must now contact the federal government for help. However, because the new laws about phone service in Colorado are subject to review, also contact the Colorado Public Utilities Commission and/or the state attorney general.
1. File a complaint online with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) at www.fcc.gov/complaints. You may also file a complaint with the FCC’s Consumer Center by calling
1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY.
2. Contact the Colorado Public Utilities Commission Consumer Line at 303-894-2070 or 1-800-456-0858, if calling outside the Denver metro area, but within Colorado. You can also email the PUC at email@example.com. While the legislature has taken away authority from the PUC to help customers resolve problems with phone companies, this action is subject to review — so the PUC still needs to hear from you.
3. File a complaint with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office at www.coloradoattorneygeneral.gov/consumerfraudcomplaint or 1-800-222-4444. The attorney general typically pursues court action only when a large number of specific customer complaints are received. AARP is still fighting for you! We will keep working to make sure Colorado phone customers can get reliable service at a fair price. Visit action.aarp.org/COphones to sign up for updates about this and other important issues happening at the state capitol.