CTIA Consumer Code for Wireless Service
Wireless from AT&T, formerly Cingular Wireless, is proud to announce its commitment to customer service and wireless quality—the adoption of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA) Consumer Code for Wireless Service. We are equally proud that Cingular was the first nationwide carrier that CTIA awarded the right to use the "Seal of Wireless Quality" in our advertising, store collateral, etc., since we were deemed to be in compliance with the Code.
On Sept. 9, 2003, Cingular joined forces with the CTIA and other wireless industry leaders to declare its support and implementation of the Consumer Code as a new voluntary standard for customer fulfillment. The Consumer Code defines 10 customer policies that are founded on three principles: (1) Provide consumers with information to help them make informed choices in selecting wireless service; (2) Help ensure that consumers understand their wireless service and rate plans; and (3) Continue to offer wireless services that meet consumers' needs. As part of the adoption of the Consumer Code, each signatory of the Consumer Code will be able to display a new CTIA Seal of Wireless Quality Service.
"The Consumer Code for Wireless Service formalizes much of what Cingular has been doing for some time now, and we are pleased to announce that we already meet and, in some cases, exceed all principles of the code," says Cingular Chief Executive Officer Stan Sigman. "We will continue to improve customer communications efforts to ensure our customers are always well-informed, and to make certain we continue to provide wireless service that is the best fit for each of our customers."
To provide consumers with information to help them make informed choices when selecting wireless service, to help ensure that consumers understand their wireless service and rate plans, and to continue to provide wireless service that meets consumers' needs, the CTIA and the wireless carriers that are signatories below have developed the following Consumer Code. The carriers that are signatories to this Code have voluntarily adopted the principles, disclosures, and practices here for wireless service provided to individual consumers.
The wireless carriers that are signatories to this Code will:
- Disclose rates and terms of service to consumers.
For each rate plan offered to new consumers, wireless carriers will make available to consumers in collateral or other disclosures at point of sale and on their Web sites, at least the following information, as applicable: (a) the calling area for the plan; (b) the monthly access fee or base charge; (c) the number of airtime minutes included in the plan; (d) any nights and weekend minutes included in the plan or other differing charges for different time periods and the time periods when nights and weekend minutes or other charges apply; (e) the charges for excess or additional minutes; (f) per-minute long distance charges or whether long distance is included in other rates; (g) per-minute roaming or off-network charges; (h) whether any additional taxes, fees or surcharges apply; (i) the amount or range of any such fees or surcharges that are collected and retained by the carrier; (j) whether a fixed-term contract is required and its duration; (k) any activation or initiation fee; and (l) any early termination fee that applies and the trial period during which no early termination fee will apply.
- Make available maps showing where service is generally available.
Wireless carriers will make available at point of sale and on their Web sites maps depicting approximate voice service coverage applicable to each of their rate plans currently offered to consumers. To enable consumers to make comparisons among carriers, these maps will be generated using generally accepted methodologies and standards to depict the carrier's outdoor coverage. All such maps will contain an appropriate legend concerning limitations and/or variations in wireless coverage and map usage, including any geographic limitations on the availability of any services included in the rate plan. Wireless carriers will periodically update such maps as necessary to keep them reasonably current. If necessary to show the extent of service coverage available to customers from carriers' roaming partners, carriers will request and incorporate coverage maps from roaming partners that are generated using similar industry-accepted criteria, or if such information is not available, incorporate publicly available information regarding roaming partners' coverage areas.
- Provide contract terms to customers and confirm changes in service.
When a customer initiates service with a wireless carrier or agrees to a change in service whereby the customer is bound to a contract extension, the carrier will provide or confirm the material terms and conditions of service with the subscriber.
- Allow a trial period for new service.
When a customer initiates service with a wireless carrier, the customer will be informed of and given a period of not less than 14 days to try out the service. The carrier will not impose an early termination fee if the customer cancels service within this period, provided that the customer complies with applicable return and/or exchange policies. Other charges, including airtime usage, may still apply.
- Provide specific disclosures in advertising.
In advertising of prices for wireless service or devices, wireless carriers will disclose material charges and conditions related to the advertised prices, including if applicable and to the extent the advertising medium reasonably allows: (a) activation or initiation fees; (b) monthly access fees or base charges; (c) any required contract term; (d) early termination fees; (e) the terms and conditions related to receiving a product or service for "free"; (f) the times of any peak and off-peak calling periods; (g) whether different or additional charges apply for calls outside of the carrier's network or outside of designated calling areas; (h) for any rate plan advertised as "nationwide," (or using similar terms), the carrier will have available substantiation for this claim; (i) whether prices or benefits apply only for a limited time or promotional period and, if so, any different fees or charges to be paid for the remainder of the contract term; (j) whether any additional taxes, fees or surcharges apply; and (k) the amount or range of any such fees or surcharges collected and retained by the carrier.
- Separately identify carrier charges from taxes on billing statements.
On customers' bills, carriers will distinguish: (a) monthly charges for service and features, and other charges collected and retained by the carrier, from (b) taxes, fees and other charges collected by the carrier and remitted to federal state or local governments. Carriers will not label cost recovery fees or charges as taxes.
- Provide customers the right to terminate service for changes to contract terms.
Carriers will not modify the material terms of their subscribers' contracts in a manner that is materially adverse to subscribers without providing a reasonable advance notice of a proposed modification and allowing subscribers a time period of not less than 14 days to cancel their contracts with no early termination fee.
- Provide ready access to customer service.
Customers will be provided a toll-free telephone number to access a carrier's customer service during normal business hours. Customer service contact information will be provided to customers online and on billing statements. Each wireless carrier will provide information about how customers can contact the carrier in writing, by toll-free telephone number, via the Internet or otherwise with any inquiries or complaints, and this information will be included, at a minimum, on all billing statements, in written responses to customer inquiries and on carriers' Web sites. Each carrier will also make such contact information available, upon request, to any customer calling the carrier's customer service departments.
- Promptly respond to consumer inquiries and complaints received from government agencies.
Wireless carriers will respond in writing to state or federal administrative agencies within 30 days of receiving written consumer complaints from any such agency.
- Abide by policies for protection of customer privacy.
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