Telecom Board fines Claro $155K for alleged ‘cramming’
The Puerto Rico Telecommunications Regulatory Board has issued a fine against carrier Claro de Puerto Rico of more than $155,000 for apparent “cramming” practices in its wireless and bundled Internet services.
By definition “cramming” is the practice of adding unauthorized charges to a customer’s phone invoice, a practice that is prohibited by both the Federal Communications Commission’s “Truth-in-Billing” rules and the Puerto Rico Telecommunications Act of 1996.
The regulatory agency served Claro with an Order to show Cause outlining its decision that followed an investigation of several consumer complaints against Claro. The Board concluded that Claro may have used a program branded “Ideas Claro” to facilitate third parties with billing for services that customers had not acquired.
“The Order to Show Cause was received yesterday [Thursday] and we are investigating to respond to the Regulatory Board as soon as possible,” said Ileana Molina-Bachman, Claro’s director of corporate relations and advertising.
The FCC has imposed millions of dollars in fines to the four major stateside wireless carriers for “cramming” and unauthorized third-party billing, but this would be the first time that the Board initiates comprehensive action against a local carrier.
According to the Order, Claro may elect to pay upfront fines of $5,000 for each incident, as well as restitution of the charges assessed from customers, which would result in a payout of more than $155,000.
However, if the carrier declines to pay this voluntary fine, it faces fines of $25,000 per incident, plus restitution.