HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission today approved a settlement agreement regarding an investigation into the billing and service termination practices and charges of Covista Inc.
The settlement stems from the Commission’s Law Bureau Prosecutory Staff’s (LBPS) investigation, which found that Covista Inc.:
- Was charging customers an unauthorized $2 per month paper billing fee that had not been included in the company’s tariff;
- Offered its customers a promotional bundled service offering at an unauthorized rate of $21.99 per month that had not been included in its tariff; and
- Increased the non-tariffed bundled service offering by $5 from $21.99 to $26.99 per month, effective Jan. 1, 2009, without Commission approval.
As part of the settlement, Covista:
- Will refund $67,048 to its customers for failure to tariff the “bundled service rate” plan;
- Will provide a $5 refund per customer per month to those affected customers whose bundled service package rates were increased during the period January 2009 through May 2009;
- Will refund an overcharge of $17,783 to affected customers;
- Will pay a $3,000 civil penalty; and
- Has agreed to several practices recommended by the Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Services regarding suspension and termination notices.
Covista Communications provides telecommunications services to business and residential customers, mostly in Georgia, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities to ensure safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protect the public interest; educate consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; further economic development; and foster new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.
For recent news releases, audio of select Commission proceedings or more information about the PUC, visit our website at www.puc.state.pa.us.
Docket Number M-2009-2067766