PSC commissioners voice strong opposition to ‘AT&T Bill’

JACKSON — Public Service Commission chairman Leonard Bentz and Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley have voiced opposition to House Bill 825, which they say would remove all oversight the Mississippi Public Service Commission has over AT&T.

“This bill is a corporate wish list that gives AT&T the permission to run over and take advantage of every single customer in Mississippi and no one can say one thing to them about it.” Presley said. “Complaints against AT&T have gone up dramatically over the past few years, yet this bill rewards them by taking the cop off the beat that is there to protect customers.

“It is hard to believe that the Legislature could honestly think that a company with such a terrible track record should be taken out from under the PSC’s authority.”

“This is a very bad bill for consumers in Mississippi,” Bentz said. “Even though AT&T will tell you that the oversight that we (PSC) have is limited, the little we do have is piece of mind for the consumers.

“As it stands right now, all customers with AT&T have the ability to file complaints with the Public Service Commission, and have the PSC on their side to help them navigate the system. The bill clearly states customer appeals will be removed from the PSC jurisdiction.

“Further, AT&T states they are at a competitive disadvantage. How can you be at a disadvantage when you own more infrastructure and receive more Universal Service Fund monies than any other telecommunication company? The bill would also limit the Commission’s oversight of the Universal Service Fund. This is a critical fund in which AT&T receives monies to invest in their infrastructure. In the proposed bill this would give the oversight to the federal government.”

“The avenue for customer complaint appeals to the PSC will also be removed. I guess if a consumer had a complaint they could call the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). If AT&T can explain to me how this bill will build better customer service by calling a Washington bureaucrat versus an elected Mississippian, I will be their biggest cheerleader.”

“I hope legislators reviewing this AT&T bill (HB 825) will contact the PSC and give us an opportunity for input. AT&T employs great employees in Mississippi and I am sure they will tell you AT&T has become more and more like a corporate run robot organization. If AT&T wants a competitive advantage, I have three recommendations. Provide a quality service, listen to your customers and treat your customers as clients. And that does not take any legislation to accomplish.”

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