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Archive for Wednesday, December 29, 1999

SW BELL SETTLES MOBILE RATE FLAP

December 29, 1999

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Southwestern Bell Mobile Systems is spending $3 million to settle a dispute regarding fees charged to its late-paying wireless customers, including some in Lawrence.

Checks went out Dec. 20 to the company's eligible customers in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Kansas. The company operates in Lawrence as Southwestern Bell Wireless, 520 W. 23rd.

The settlement, approved in late October by a court in St. Louis, established the fund to pay off customers, legal fees and other costs related to a class-action lawsuit that involved the company's "modification" of late-payment fees for customers who did not pay their bills on time, said Ellen Pantaenius, a spokeswoman for Southwestern Bell Wireless in Kansas City, Mo.

The suit alleged that the company improperly notified its customers of the change. In settling the suit -- and by sending out thousands of $15.66 checks -- the company admitted no wrongdoing, Pantaenius said.

Instead, she said, the company settled to "avoid the uncertainties and high cost -- in time and money -- of litigation."

SBC Communications Inc., the global communications company, owns Southwestern Bell Wireless, one of several wireless affiliates that together serve 10.1 million customers across the country.

-- Mark Fagan's phone message number is 832-7188. His e-mail address is mfagan@ljworld.com.

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