Requires disclosure terms relating to pre-paid calling cards to be provided in languages other than English and increases fines for violations of disclosure requirements.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the public service law, in relation to requiring disclosure terms relating to prepaid calling cards to be provided in languages other than English and increasing fines for violations of disclosure requirements
PURPOSE: To enhance consumer protection in prepaid calling cards.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: -Creates subdivision 3-a of section 92-f of the public service law to require that if any language other than English is used in the sale or advertising of prepaid calling cards then that language must likewise be used in disclosure provisions.
-Defines "promotional material."
-Creates a requirement of clear and conspicuous disclosure in the sale of prepaid calling cards over the internet.
-Requires any promotional calling rate to state the expiration of the promotional rate.
-Requires the disclosure of any additional surcharge associated with the calling rate.
-Increases the penalties for any violations of the act.
JUSTIFICATION: Calling cards are often used by new immigrants with families and friends abroad and by friends and families of military personnel as a means to make inexpensive phone calls overseas. A study by Consumer Reports helped to unveil some of the unscrupulous practices that result in calling card consumers getting less than what they bargained for. Among a few of their findings:
-Of the 130 calling cards purchased about three quarters of the cards didn't disclose the proper rates.
-Many of the cards had unclear post-call fees, periodic fees, and surcharges.
-Other calling cards that did display fees or disclosure information did so in font so small that a magnifying glass was needed.
This bill seeks to put an end to these problems by establishing fair standards and enhancing the disclosure requirements so consumers have a clear understanding of what they're getting when purchasing calling cards.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: New bill.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None to the State.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect 120 days after it shall have become a law.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 3730 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE February 13, 2013 ___________Introduced by Sen. SERRANO -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Energy and Telecommuni- cations AN ACT to amend the public service law, in relation to requiring disclo- sure terms relating to prepaid calling cards to be provided in languages other than English and increasing fines for violations of disclosure requirements THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Section 92-f of the public service law is amended by adding a new subdivision 3-a to read as follows: 3-A. A. IF A LANGUAGE OR LANGUAGES OTHER THAN ENGLISH IS USED ON A PREPAID TELEPHONE CALLING CARD, ITS PACKAGING, OR IN POINT OF SALE ADVERTISING, OR PROMOTIONAL MATERIAL RELATING TO A PREPAID CALLING CARD OR PREPAID TELEPHONE CALLING SERVICE, ALL DISCLOSURE REQUIRED PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION SHALL BE PROVIDED IN THE SAME LANGUAGE OR LANGUAGES, IN ADDITION TO ENGLISH. ALL NON-ENGLISH DISCLOSURE PROVISIONS SHALL BE CLEARLY PRINTED IN A CLEAR AND CONSPICUOUS LOCATION ON THE CALLING CARD ITSELF, OR IF THE CALLING CARD IS PACKAGED IN OPAQUE PACKING, ON THE PACKAGING. B. AS USED IN THIS SUBDIVISION, "PROMOTIONAL MATERIAL" INCLUDES ALL MATERIALS PREPARED BY THE COMPANY THAT PROVIDES PREPAID CALLING SERVICES THROUGH PREPAID CALLING CARDS AND ANY SIGNS FOR DISPLAY BY RETAIL MERCHANTS OR ANY OTHER PROMOTIONAL MATERIAL THAT IS PREPARED AT THE DIRECTION OF THE PREPAID CALLING SERVICE. C. IF THE CALLING CARD IS PURCHASED ON THE INTERNET, THE DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS SHALL BE DISPLAYED IN A CLEAR AND CONSPICUOUS LOCATION ON THE WEBSITE THROUGH WHICH THE CALLING CARD IS PURCHASED, INCLUDING INSTRUCTIONS AND DIRECTIONS TO ANY LINK WITH SUCH DISCLOSURES, PRIOR TO PURCHASING THE SERVICES.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD00472-01-3 S. 3730 2
S 2. Subdivision 3 of section 92-f of the public service law, as added by chapter 651 of the laws of 1999, is amended to read as follows: 3. Any company that provides prepaid calling services through prepaid calling cards shall print legibly on each card or packaging the follow- ing information: a. any surcharges or fees, including monthly fees, per-call access fees, or surcharges for the first minute of use that may be applicable to the use of the prepaid calling card or prepaid calling services with- in the United States; b. any additional or different prices, rates, or unit values applica- ble to international usage of the prepaid calling card or prepaid call- ing services; c. any minimum charge per call, such as a three minute minimum charge; d. any charge for calls that do not connect;
[and,]e. any recharge policy [.]; F. IF APPLICABLE, THE EXPIRATION DATE OR OTHER LIMITATION ON THE PERI- OD OF TIME FOR WHICH THE DISPLAYED, PROMOTED, OR ADVERTISED MINUTES WILL BE AVAILABLE TO THE CUSTOMER; AND G. ANY CONNECTION OR DISCONNECTION FEE OR ANY SURCHARGE ASSOCIATED WITH THE CALLING CARD THAT IS NOT PART OF THE STANDARD RATE ASSOCIATED WITH EACH MINUTE USED BY THE CARD. S 3. Subdivision 8 of section 92-f of the public service law, as added by chapter 651 of the laws of 1999, is amended to read as follows: 8. Enforcement. The commission shall have the power, consistent with federal law, to assess a penalty not to exceed [one]FIVE thousand dollars against any company that provides prepaid calling cards or services that knowingly fails or neglects to comply with any provision of this section or any regulation or order of the commission implement- ing or enforcing the provisions of this section FOR A FIRST VIOLATION AND TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR A SECOND OR SUBSEQUENT VIOLATION. All moneys recovered from any administrative penalty shall be paid into the state treasury to the credit of the general fund. S 4. This act shall take effect on the one hundred twentieth day after it shall have become a law.