AT&T told to hold off adding fee

Saturday, September 15, 2001

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Missouri regulators have voted to temporarily stop AT&T Corp. from adding a $1.95 fee to Missouri customers' long-distance bills.

Missouri regulators Thursday voted to suspend the fee, which had been scheduled to start Saturday, for 30 days while it is evaluated.

AT&T informed customers recently that the added charge would offset access fees it must pay local carriers to place in-state long-distance calls. The company said the Missouri access fees were among the highest in the country.

The Missouri Public Service Commission has asked AT&T and other parties interested in the case to file briefs explaining their positions by Sept. 20.

The state's Office of Public Counsel filed the motion asking for the suspension of the fee and argued that the commission had legal authority to get involved in the case.

Kerry Hibbs, an AT&T spokesman, said it wouldn't be difficult to convince regulators the fee was necessary.

"The numbers pretty much speak for themselves," he said. "If those access charges are reduced, then we in turn will reduce or eliminate the fee."

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