senate Bill S3730

Requires disclosure terms relating to prepaid calling cards to be provided in languages other than English and increases fines for violations of disclosure requirements

download pdf

Sponsor

Co-Sponsors

Bill Status


  • Introduced
  • In Committee
  • On Floor Calendar
    • Passed Senate
    • Passed Assembly
  • Delivered to Governor
  • Signed/Vetoed by Governor
view actions

actions

  • 13 / Feb / 2013
    • REFERRED TO ENERGY AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS
  • 08 / Jan / 2014
    • REFERRED TO ENERGY AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS
  • 13 / May / 2014
    • REPORTED AND COMMITTED TO FINANCE

Summary

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.

do you support this bill?

Bill Details

See Assembly Version of this Bill:
A9941
Versions:
S3730
Legislative Cycle:
2013-2014
Current Committee:
Senate Finance
Law Section:
Public Service Law
Laws Affected:
Amd §92-f, Pub Serv L

Votes

8
1
8
Aye
1
Nay
1
aye with reservations
0
absent
1
excused
0
abstained
show Energy and Telecommunications committee vote details
nay (1)
aye wr (1)
excused (1)

Sponsor Memo

BILL NUMBER:S3730

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.

view bill text
                    S T A T E   O F   N E W   Y O R K
________________________________________________________________________

                                  3730

                       2013-2014 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                            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.

Comments

Open Legislation comments facilitate discussion of New York State legislation. All comments are subject to moderation. Comments deemed off-topic, commercial, campaign-related, self-promotional; or that contain profanity or hate speech; or that link to sites outside of the nysenate.gov domain are not permitted, and will not be published. Comment moderation is generally performed Monday through Friday.

By contributing or voting you agree to the Terms of Participation and verify you are over 13.