Verizon agrees to give D.C. calling cards to settle dispute

Verizon agrees to give D.C. calling cards to settle disputeVerizon Communications Inc. has agreed to give the District of Columbia 2,500 calling cards to end an investigation by the D.C. attorney general's office into unused balances on calling cards bought by consumers.

Verizon declined to comment on the settlement.

D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles announced the settlement that is similar to another agreement reached in May with AT&T Corp. -- that one settled a lawsuit brought in December 2009 by the District of Columbia. At issue is who gets the unused minutes. D.C. says that under its unclaimed property act, the unused minutes were to be paid over to its unclaimed property fund. Both Verizon and AT&T disputed that claim.

Nickles says the combined total of both settlements gives the District of Columbia 5,000 calling cards that its agencies will use to provide direct assistance to needy residents. "I'm glad we could resolve these disputes quickly and secure some tangible benefits for people in D.C.," Nickles says in a statement. In its settlement, Verizon agreed to provide 2,500 calling cards with a total of 250,000 minutes of call time.

The Federal Communications Commission says that a common complaint among pre-paid phone card users is that the per-call fees are deducted from the minute allotment on the card. Other complaints include cards that expire without the consumer's knowledge and cards that charge even if the call doesn't go through. The agency recommends knowing the terms and conditions of a calling card before purchasing one.
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