Frequently Asked Questions About Telecommunication Services

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Telephone

While the Public Service Commission regulates landline service rates and practices, legislation passed by the West Virginia Legislature in April 2017 prohibits the Commission from exercising jurisdiction over internet protocol-enabled service or voice over internet protocol (VOIP) service.

A list of local landline telephone service providers can be found in the “Customer Info Guide” located in the front of most West Virginia telephone company phonebooks. You may also search for providers online.

This practice is known as “cramming.” If you find charges on your telephone bill for services you did not request or authorize, contact your telephone company and request these charges be "recoursed" (removed and returned) to the company on whose behalf the local company is billing. A request should also be made to block this company from placing charges on your bill in the future.

No. The practice by which long distance service is switched to another carrier without your permission is referred to as “slamming.” If this happens, contact your local telephone company and have the service switched back to your preferred carrier. Also ask your telephone company to place a freeze on your account to avoid further incidents.

"Phantom calls" should be investigated by your telephone company. These are often the result of computer generated (robo) calls and/or may involve equipment failure of some sort. If these calls are harassing in nature, they should be reported to your telephone company. Complaints against telemarketing calls should be reported to the Attorney General’s office at: http://www.ago.wv.gov/consumerprotection/Pages/default.aspx. You may also obtain information and request to be placed on a Do Not Call registry by contacting the Federal Trade Commission at: https://www.donotcall.gov/ or by calling toll-free: 1-888-382-1222 or, for TTY service, 1-866-290-4236.

Lines sometimes work improperly during wet weather due to moisture in the lines. As with all complaints, you should report the outage to your telephone company. Customers should report outages, static and interference each time they occur so the company has an accurate record of service problems. If the problem is not resolved, contact the Public Service Commission.

If you have a problem with a regulated utility, contact the utility first and try to resolve the complaint before contacting the Public Service Commission. If the utility doesn’t resolve the issue to your satisfaction you may file a complaint in several ways:

  1. Online: http://www.psc.state.wv.us/complaints/default.htm
  2. By phone (Monday-Friday, 8:00-5:00): 1-800-642-8544
  3. By fax: 304-340-0462
  4. In person at: 201 Brooks Street, Charleston, WV
  5. By mail: Public Service Commission of West Virginia, P.O. Box 812, Charleston, WV 25323

If you have an issue that you cannot resolve directly with your utility company, you may contact the Public Service Commission to request assistance via one of the above mentioned methods. In most instances, it is preferred that a complaint be initiated through the informal process. It can then be determined whether the complaint should be taken to the formal level. An informal complaint, also known as a Request for Assistance (RFA), can be filed online, by telephone, by writing a letter or by visiting our office. All cable complaints must be initiated through the informal process. Consumer complaint procedures can be found at: http://www.psc.state.wv.us/complaints/default.htm.

Upon receipt of the complaint, a Consumer Affairs Technician will contact the utility in question and attempt to resolve the complaint. Once a response is received, our staff will provide this information to you by telephone and/or letter or, if the complaint is filed online, a response may be provided by email. Depending on the complaint, this process may take anywhere from a few days to more than 30 days.

In order to file a Formal Complaint, fill out a Form 1 and have it notarized. The form can be faxed or mailed to you upon request or you may access it online at: http://www.psc.state.wv.us/Forms/InteractiveForm1_20161117.pdf

Check your bill each month. Compare charges to the previous month and notify your telephone company immediately if you notice any unexplained changes. You may also request that your telephone company examine your usage and review various calling plans so you may sign up for the package that is most economical for your usage.

The Lifeline program can provide a discount on basic monthly telephone service for eligible low-income customers. For more information, contact your telephone service provider.

As long as you pay your basic services they will not be cut. However, you may lose additional services such as long distance calling, caller ID or voicemail if you do not pay your bill in full.

Service should not be discontinued if a residential customer is known to be 65 years old or older or is physically, mentally or emotionally incapacitated, without first making contact with a designated relative or a responsible third party. The customer should provide this third party contact to the company.

In relation to this, the Commission’s Telephone Rule states that if the utility receives notice from the customer prior to termination of service: "That he or she is unable to pay for such service in accordance with the requirements of the utility's billing and that termination or service would be especially dangerous to the health or safety of a member of the customer’s household, the utility shall provide an opportunity to the customer for presentation of his or her complaint to a designated managerial employee, who is empowered to resolve the dispute."

Cable, Satellite and Internet Service

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has limited jurisdiction over cable television programming. The Public Service Commission does not have jurisdiction over cable television programming or channel selection. However, cable companies must be franchised in each county in which they operate. If you have a complaint about your cable programming, contact the franchising agent in your county. In most areas, this is either the county commission or city council.

The Public Service Commission has no jurisdiction over internet service, even if this service is provided via an otherwise regulated utility. While the FCC determined in 2015 that internet is a regulated telecommunications service, the West Virginia Legislature passed legislation in April 2017 that prohibits the Commission from exercising jurisdiction over internet protocol-enabled service or voice over internet protocol (VOIP) service.

If you have a complaint about your internet service, contact the West Virginia Attorney General’s office at 1-800-368-8808 or http://www.ago.wv.gov/consumerprotection/Pages/default.aspx or contact the FCC at:

Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554
Phone: 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322)
Online: www.fcc.gov

The Public Service Commission has no jurisdiction over satellite service providers. If you have a complaint about your satellite service, contact the FCC at:

Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554
Phone: 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322)
Online: www.fcc.gov