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SF 833

3rd Engrossment - 85th Legislature (2007 - 2008) Posted on 12/15/2009 12:00am

KEY: stricken = removed, old language. underscored = added, new language.

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Current Version - 3rd Engrossment

A bill for an act
relating to telecommunications; enacting the Minnesota Wireless Telephone
Consumer Protection Act; changing certain existing requirements;proposing
coding for new law in Minnesota Statutes, chapter 325F; repealing Minnesota
Statutes 2006, section 325F.695.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:

Section 1.

[325F.696] MINNESOTA WIRELESS TELEPHONE CONSUMER
PROTECTION ACT.

Subdivision 1.

Definitions.

(a) The definitions in this subdivision apply to this
section.

(b) "Customer" means an individual consumer purchasing wireless
telecommunications service, or a business or corporate entity making a bulk purchase of
wireless telecommunications service for use by its employees.

(c) "Government-mandated charges and taxes" means any taxes, fees, and other
charges that a wireless carrier is legally required to collect directly from consumers and
to remit to federal, state, or local governments, or to third parties authorized by such
governments, for the administration of government programs. "Government-mandated
charges and taxes" does not include discretionary charges authorized, but not required by,
government action.

(d) "Wireless carrier" means a provider of wireless telecommunications service.

(e) "Wireless telecommunications service" means commercial mobile radio service
as defined in Code of Federal Regulations, title 47, part 20.

Subd. 2.

Required disclosures.

(a) Wireless carriers providing wireless
telecommunications service, other than prepaid per minute service that does not require a
minimum term agreement from the customer, in the state must:

(1) provide the customer, at the time of sale, with a coverage map showing where
service is generally available and that identifies areas where any domestic roaming or
additional charges would apply to the customer's service;

(2) make coverage maps showing where service is generally available to
prospective and existing customers at any location where the wireless carrier's
wireless telecommunications service is offered for sale and make those maps available
electronically at the carrier's Web site;

(3) clearly and conspicuously disclose at the time of sale the price for the service
being purchased by the customer, including the monthly access fee or base charge,
the amount of any activation or initiation fee, any charges for domestic roaming, any
charge for domestic long distance, any charge for exceeding the number of minutes
or usage included in any allowance, and any other charges collected and retained by
the carrier and disclose a good faith estimate of the amount or range of all applicable
government-mandated or authorized charges and taxes;

(4) clearly and conspicuously disclose to the customer at the time of sale in written
materials: (i) that the price is not guaranteed to remain the same for the minimum term of
the contract if a contract provision allows the wireless carrier to change the price of the
service during the minimum term, and (ii) any early termination fee that applies if service
is terminated during the minimum term; and

(5) prior to the execution of a contract for wireless telephone service, provide
the customer the terms of the contract, and after execution of the contract provide the
customer with a copy of the writing or writings constituting the contract, at the time of
sale and thereafter upon the customer's request.

(b) With regard to any early termination fee provisions or provisions allowing the
wireless carrier to change the price of the service during the minimum contract term,
the wireless carrier must obtain a specific acknowledgment from the customer that the
customer has read and understands the provisions.

Subd. 3.

Billing; listing of government taxes and fees.

All bills for wireless
telecommunications services must list government-mandated charges and taxes in a
section of the bill separate from the section or sections listing the price and any other
charges for the wireless telecommunications service. The wireless carrier must include
a brief, easy-to-understand description of each charge included in the bill. The wireless
carrier must not represent, expressly or by implication, that discretionary cost recovery
fees or charges are government-mandated charges and taxes.

Subd. 4.

Billing for third-party goods and services.

(a) A wireless carrier must
not include on a customer's bill a charge for goods or services that the carrier bills on
behalf of a third party unless the wireless carrier has obtained the customer's prior express
authorization to include those charges on the customer's bill issued by the wireless carrier.

(b) If a customer of a wireless carrier disputes any third-party charge appearing on
that customer's wireless bill, the customer shall not be obligated to pay the disputed charge
until the wireless carrier provides evidence of the customer's prior express authorization
to include such charge. Evidence of the customer's prior express authorization must be
produced to the customer within 60 calendar days after the customer notifies the wireless
carrier that the charge is disputed. A customer shall be permitted to dispute any charges
that a wireless carrier bills on behalf of a third party for up to six months after the charge
appears on the customer's wireless bill. If the wireless carrier cannot produce evidence
that the customer authorized the third-party charge, the wireless carrier must remove the
charge from the customer's wireless bill and credit the customer for the unauthorized
third-party charges incurred during the previous six months.

(c) A wireless carrier meets the prior express authorization requirements of this
subdivision only if it obtains or receives authorization from the customer containing
clear, unambiguous, and separate authorizations for each third-party good or service to be
included on the customer's bill.

(d) Nothing in this subdivision restricts the right of a wireless carrier to seek to
recover from a third party unauthorized charges credited to the customer by the wireless
carrier.

Subd. 5.

Extensions in contract length.

(a) If a customer is offered, accepts, or
requests a good, service, or promotion or changes the customer's wireless service plan in
any manner, and this good, service, promotion, or change will result in the extension of
the minimum contract term or create a new contract with a minimum term, the wireless
carrier must disclose to the customer at the point of sale or acceptance that the requested
good, service, promotion, or change will result in a contract extension or creation of a new
contract with a minimum term, and must further disclose the length of the extension or
new term.

(b) If the customer and a representative of the carrier are personally present at
the point of sale or acceptance, the wireless provider must also in connection with the
new good, service, promotion, or change obtain the customer's signed consent in an
independent document. The independent document must only include the terms set forth
in clauses (1) to (3) and must clearly and conspicuously disclose:

(1) that the new good, service, promotion, or change will result in an extension or
renewal of the customer's contract;

(2) the new contract start and end dates; and

(3) that failure to complete the new contract term may result in early termination
fees and, if so, the amount of the fees.

(c) If the customer's consent is obtained via the Internet, the wireless provider must
disclose the terms listed in paragraph (b), clauses (1) to (3). The customer must provide
a valid electronic signature showing that the wireless provider has disclosed and the
customer has agreed to the extension or renewal of the contract. An electronic record must
be available upon request to the customer until the new contract term expires.

(d) If the customer's consent is obtained orally, the wireless provider must clearly
disclose the terms listed in paragraph (b), clauses (1) to (3), and the customer's consent
to each term must be recorded and retained by the provider and be made available upon
request to the customer until the new contract term expires.

(e) Within ten days after a customer's contract has been extended or renewed, the
wireless service provider must notify the customer in an independent writing that the
contract has been extended or renewed. The independent writing must only include the
terms set forth in clauses (1) to (3) and must clearly and conspicuously disclose:

(1) that the new good, service, promotion, or change will result in an extension or
renewal of the customer's contract;

(2) the new contract start and end dates; and

(3) that failure to complete the new contract term may result in early termination
fees and, if so, the amount of the fees.

(f) Failure of the provider to make any of the disclosures or to obtain any of
the consents required in this subdivision voids any contract extension covered by this
subdivision.

Subd. 6.

Private remedies.

This section does not create a private right of action,
or form the predicate for a right of action under any other state law, or create a liability
that would not exist absent this section.

Subd. 7.

Limitation of actions.

Any action brought under this section must be
commenced within six months of the alleged violation.

Subd. 8.

Remedies; penalties, enforcement.

A violation of this section is a
violation of a law referred to in section 8.31, subdivision 1.

Sec. 2. REPEALER.

Minnesota Statutes 2006, section 325F.695, is repealed.

Sec. 3. EFFECTIVE DATE.

Section 1 is effective August 1, 2008, except that subdivision 4 is effective March
1, 2009.

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