February 20, 2002

FEBRUARY 20, 2002

CONTACT: LINDA CONTI, Assistant Attorney General 207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that his office has settled a case with Sprint concerning its advertising of long distance service to customers.

The settlement ends a two-year investigation by 22 states into tactics used in advertising long distance calling plans. The states alleged that the three major long distance carriers, Sprint, MCI and AT&T, failed to clearly and conspicuously disclose:

• The additional monthly fees that were tacked onto low per minute rates;

• That for some carriers the low per minute rate was only good at night or on weekends;

• That the in-state long distance per minute rates could be higher than the state-to-state rates.

While the Maine Attorney General's Office has settled with Sprint, it has also reached an agreement in principle with AT&T and MCI on the advertising claims. Rowe's office continues to negotiate with MCI and AT&T regarding his claims that their telemarketing and customer service practices are also unfair to consumers.

The carriers deny wrongdoing, but they have agreed to collectively pay the states $1.5 million. In addition, the carriers will now make disclosures to consumers that reveal the total cost of the service they are offering with the exception of taxes that the carriers are required to pass on. The carriers are also required to disclose clearly and conspicuously any limitations on their advertised rates or calling plans.

The states involved in the settlement are Illinois, Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.