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When buying landline telephone service for your home, you should be aware of several issues, including technological changes impacting the communications network, and ask questions to make sure you are getting the type of telephone service that best meets your needs.

Telephone calls are generally categorized as:

  • Local: Calls made within your immediate area as determined by the exchanges (area codes) in the calling plan and the service provider you choose. It is possible that calls in your own municipality may not be considered local. Be sure to ask or request a list of the exchanges that are part of your local calling plan;
  • Regional: Calls made outside the “local” calling area; and
  • Long Distance: Calls generally made out-of-state.

Always contact your service provider of choice to inquire about their service offerings and available calling plans. You can choose one provider for all your calling needs, or you can select different providers for different types of calls. Federal Law allows you to keep your current phone number when you change providers as long as you remain within the local exchange. When switching providers be sure to tell your provider you want to keep your existing phone number.

Bundled Services

Some service providers bundle landline phone services with other services, such as cable television and internet service. These bundles might include additional charges beyond the quoted monthly rate, and may include a contract agreement that locks you into those services for a set period of time. Before entering into a contract agreement, be aware of additional costs such as high definition (HD) television capability, cable boxes, modems and other service related surcharges. If you enter into a contract agreement, be aware that a penalty may apply if you cancel the contract or change your level of service before it expires. Many providers will charge an early termination fee (ETF) that applies when you cancel all, or even one part of your service before your contract expires. Ask your service provider about your ability to make changes to service levels within your bundle package and be certain you know how much the ETF is and when it applies. To avoid additional charges, be sure to return all rented equipment to the service provider when you end your service.

 

The DTC regulates the telecommunications and cable industries in Massachusetts. As part of its responsibilities, the DTC’s Consumer Division works to resolve disputes that arise between consumers and their telephone or cable service provider.  The Division offers a series of outreach programs to help educate consumers about these industries, and empower them to make smart decisions when evaluating their needs for purchasing these services. For more information or for help with a complaint about your telephone provider, contact the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Cable.

 

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for all Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the State’s lemon laws, data breach reporting, and home improvement contractor programs, and the State’s Do Not Call Registry.

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