Are telecommunications companies getting something for nothing?

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on February 7, 2014 at 12:28 AM

Updated Friday, Feb 7 at 11:52 AM

If a storm hits and your cable and internet goes out, under the law, the company can still charge you for those days of darkness.

“Right now they often do and legally they sure can,” said state Senator Kevin Ranker.

Ranker, an Orcas Island resident, authored Senate Bill 6197. It’s intended to provide refunds for communications outages like the one the San Juan Islands suffered last year. The bill had bi-partisan support and was co-sponsored by 25 Senators. Doug Ericksen the chairman of the Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee was one of the supporters.

“The telecom industry did a full court press down here,” said Senator Ranker.

Senator Ericksen decided not to give the bill a hearing. He said it wasn't really about passing anything.

“I think when people sign a bill sometimes it's to send a message I think the message was received,” said Senator Ericksen.

The Senator’s message is that the bill would hurt telecommunications investment in Washington.

“This type of legislation, if not done properly, is going to be a reason why companies may not come to Washington and provide services to rural parts of the state - which is what we are trying to get accomplished,” explained Ericksen.

In the San Juan Islands incident, CenturyLink said it will refund its customers for the outage.
Now the bill did give companies a pass for acts of God and when a third party causes the trouble.
But still it wasn't enough to get 6197 through.

“Several Legislators from other states have already contacted me about this bill and I'm happy to share it with them so I hope we see this elsewhere because it’s absolutely the right thing to do,” said Senator Ranker.

For consumers if you suffer an outage ask for a refund. If it is refused file a complaint with the Attorney General's Office and ask for the reasons why in writing.

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