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LEONARD M. STRUNK v. PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION (10/02/87)

decided: October 2, 1987.

LEONARD M. STRUNK, PETITIONER
v.
PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, in case of Leonard M. Strunk v. The Bell Telephone Company of Pennsylvania, No. C-844285, entered July 29, 1986.

COUNSEL

Leonard M. Strunk, petitioner, for himself.

Terryl A. Moreland, Assistant Counsel, with him, Daniel P. Delaney, Chief Counsel, for respondent.

William M. Posner, for intervenor, The Bell Telephone Company of Pennsylvania.

Judges Craig and Palladino, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.

Author: Craig

[ 110 Pa. Commw. Page 64]

Petitioner Leonard M. Strunk, a customer of intervenor Bell Telephone Company of Pennsylvania (Bell), appeals from an order of the Public Utility Commission (PUC) adopting an Administrative Law Judge's (ALJ's) Initial Decision dismissing petitioner's formal complaint against Bell.

At issue is the validity of Bell's transmission function charge, imposed in addition to other charges for foreign exchange telephone service.

Petitioner resides in East Fallowfield Township which, for the purpose of receiving telephone service from Bell, is located in Bell's Coatesville exchange area. Bell assigns either a 383 or 384 prefix to telephone numbers within the Coatesville exchange area. However, in 1977, petitioner obtained from Bell a 363 Exton exchange area prefix, which is foreign to petitioner's calling area, that permitted petitioner to have metropolitan area flat rate service*fn1 to Philadelphia, a service Bell does not offer in its Coatesville exchange area.

[ 110 Pa. Commw. Page 65]

Before May 1984, Bell billed petitioner $60.50 monthly and petitioner paid that amount for his telephone service. Those bills indicated that the $60.50 covered his telephone service and equipment. However, in May 1984, petitioner received a letter from Bell advising him that, because of a coding error by Bell, Bell had been underbilling him $32 per month for his foreign exchange telephone service by failing to include a transmission function*fn2 charge in his phone bill.

Petitioner responded to Bell's letter by refusing to pay the transmission function charge and filing a complaint with the commission (1) to prohibit Bell from disconnecting his service for nonpayment of that charge and (2) to order Bell to remove such extra charge from his bill. Specifically, petitioner argued there, as he does here, that the transmission function charge is included in the $60.50 charge related to Bell's charge for service and equipment and that Bell is attempting to charge him for it twice by making it a separate billing item on his bill. In the alternative, he contends that the transmission function charge is unreasonable. We cannot agree.

The setting of rates is an administrative function of the PUC and our scope of review in complaint proceedings is restricted to a determination of whether constitutional rights were violated, errors of law ...


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