View Full Version : Global Tel Link and their California Tariff


South Bay
01-02-2009, 12:48 PM
Many PTO posters have complained about numerous GTL policies including the closing of AdvancePay accounts after only 90 days of inactivity, not being allowed more than one phone number per account, refusal to provide refunds for (illegally) closed AdvancePay accounts, and many, many other complaints. A big part of the reason GTL is able to get away with all this is because they fail to post their CA tariff online or otherwise make it readily available to those wishing to review it (thus no one actually knows what their policies are). This post hopes to shed light on some of the above issues, advise customers of the rules regarding GTL’s CA tariff, and rile up everyone to start posting about the long overdue class action lawsuit that needs to be filed against GTL

GTL is required by the CA Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to make available a current copy of their CA tariff so that customers and other interested parties may know exactly what rules, rates, or regulations apply to various aspects of GTL service in CA. As the CPUC’s rules state, “The purpose of compiling and publishing tariffs is to enable members of the public to inspect and get copies of tariffs (including both currently effective and no longer effective tariffs) that may be of interest to them.” (General Order 96-B, section 8.1.1, available at: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/REPORT/91328.pdf (http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/REPORT/91328.pdf)).

Further, under the CPUC’s Internet Publication Rules, section 8.1.2, GTL is required to publish their CA tariff on their website, and to make their no longer effective tariffs available (those from the past 36 months). Specifically, GTL “shall publish, and shall thereafter keep up-to-date, its currently effective California tariffs at a site on the Internet. The Internet site shall be accessible, and the tariffs shall be downloadable, at no charge to the public. At all times, the utility shall identify at the site any tariffs that would change as the result of Commission approval of modifications the utility has proposed in a pending application or advice letter. The utility shall update the site within five business days of the effective date of any such approval. The utility shall also provide instructions at the site for getting copies of such pending application or advice letter, and of no longer effective tariffs.”

GTL however, follows NONE of the above requirements. GTL is presently failing to post a copy of their current CA tariff anywhere on any of their websites, or through following the link on which they allege the tariff is posted (http://tariffs.net/select_client_docs.asp?comp=147 (http://tariffs.net/select_client_docs.asp?comp=147)). GTL’s attorney has formally asserted to me (in a legal response to a pre-litigation document) on July 31, 2008 that “GTL’s current California tariff is available for viewing by accessing GTL’s website at www.gtl.net (http://www.gtl.net/) and clicking on the Contact Us tab. A link to GTL’s tariffs that must be made publicly available is at the bottom of the page.”

The above statement is patently false and a bald-faced lie, however, as GTL’s CA tariff HAS NOT been available on any of GTL’s web pages since at least May 10, 2008, as shown by a PTO post from 2sleepy (http://www.prisontalk.com/forums/member.php?u=124275) in which she stated that “The California tariff agreement with GTL 'used' to be on the GTL website, but I can't find it anymore” (http://www.prisontalk.com/forums/showthread.php?p=3648523#post3648523 (http://www.prisontalk.com/forums/showthread.php?p=3648523#post3648523)).

It’s extremely important to be able to consult the filed CA tariff when dealing with GTL, as further illustrated below.

In October 2007, GTL started reducing the allowable period of inactivity for AdvancePay accounts nationwide from the previous 180-day period (which had been in effect since 2003), to a brief 90-day period. By December 2007, this change had legally taken effect in various individual states (Wyoming – 11/15-/07; South Dakota – 11/16/07; Massachusetts – 12/09/07) and GTL modified their website’s posted AdvancePay brochure & FAQ’s to reflect the change. One big problem, however, is that GTL did not legally modify it’s CA tariff at that time, but nonetheless started closing CA-based AdvancePay accounts as if they had legally done so.

On March 15, 2008, LuvandLaughsCA (http://www.prisontalk.com/forums/member.php?u=82684) stated that “I set up a GTL account the end of last year but my friend ended up in the SHU and couldn't make phone calls. I called them last night to see how much money is in my account because I'm expecting a phone call next week and I was told that my account was closed. When I asked why she told me that if the account isn't used for 90 days it's closed and all the money in the account is absorbed by GTL, basically the money I had in the account they kept and I'm screwed.”(http://www.prisontalk.com/forums/showthread.php?t=323556 (http://www.prisontalk.com/forums/showthread.php?t=323556)) As evidenced further in the thread, Love and Laughs got her money back only because she knew to contact Monica McGrath with the CDCR, who then emailed GTL (and who then restored the money).

And on March 17, 2008, midnight waits (http://www.prisontalk.com/forums/member.php?u=135784) stated “Today I called and verified that GTL will close your account and keep your money if you don't get any calls in 90 days! Please e-mail Monica.McGrath@cdcr.ca.gov (Monica.McGrath@cdcr.ca.gov) if this could or has affected you, or if you just plain don't think it's right and let her know. Evidently I am the first to complain and she wasn't aware they are doing this!”(http://www.prisontalk.com/forums/showthread.php?t=324012 (http://www.prisontalk.com/forums/showthread.php?t=324012))

However, not until March 22, 2008, did GTL even request permission from the CPUC to officially change the dormancy period for inactive AdvancePay accounts from 180 days to 90 days. And only on April 22, 2008, after the CPUC’s approval, did this provision legally took effect, thus anyone whose account was closed by GTL after only 90 days of inactivity anytime prior to April 22, 2008, had their accounts illegally closed in violation of the GTL tariff in effect at the time of the closing. Had GTL’s current CA tariff (and their no longer effective tariffs) been available as required by law, then all the unlawful account closings by GTL could have been easily investigated and properly challenged by GTL customers

Then in April 2008, 2sleepy posted on the issue of whether an AdvancePay account could have multiple phone numbers, by stating, “If you look at the tariff rules for GTL for California, it says you can have 5 numbers on one account, I called them about this, and emailed them because I wanted to add another phone line to the account. GTL said NO, so I filed complaint with the State of California, Attorney General's office. I haven't heard anything back except that they received the complaint. If anything comes of it I will let you know.” (http://www.prisontalk.com/forums/showthread.php?p=3648523#poststop (http://www.prisontalk.com/forums/showthread.php?p=3648523#poststop))

Her complaint was reviewed by the CPUC, whose exact official response was “Customer understood that she is only allowed to one phone number per acct." Further investigation of this matter (by me) has now revealed, however, that the CPUC representatives merely contacted GTL, who then told the CPUC that only one number was allowed. And based on this false information provided by GTL, the CPUC summarily denied 2sleepy’s complaint. But of course, that’s not the end of the story.

The GTL tariff legally in effect during this period did in fact provide that “A maximum of five (5) eligible numbers may be used with any one Advance Pay Account.” The GTL tariff has now been changed to permit only one number, but this new provision did not officially take effect until June 24, 2008 (GTL's last tariff revision in 2008 ). So once again, GTL acted in direct violation of their filed tariff. What’s really distressing about the episode, however, is that the CPUC relied upon the answers provided by GTL staff for the reason to deny 2sleepy's complaint instead of just pulling out their copy of the tariff and simply looking up the rule (guess the CPUC can’t be bothered to check the tariff). Thus, anyone who had wanted to place up to 5 phone numbers on an existing AdvancePay account anytime prior to June 24, 2008, but who instead had to open a new account (and pay credit card surcharges or other fees), were jacked by GTL (as usual).

These incidents show a persistent pattern of GTL’s willful violations of the law, with their arrogance reaching such heights that they apparently know the CPUC will not even challenge their responses. That’s true chutzpah.

Then there is the issue of GTL’s refusal to provide refunds for the AdvancePay accounts they illegally closed. GTL’s former tariff provision on this issue, effective May 12, 2007, had provided that “Advance Pay Accounts will automatically close six months after the last call was placed using the account. No refunds of unused balances will be issued after the account is closed.” On April 22, 2008, as stated above, the tariff was amended to now provide that “Advance Pay Accounts will be automatically dissolved following three months of zero activity (i.e., no calls places [sic], no account replenishment, no customer service inquiries.)”

Notably, the April 2008 revision has expressly removed the caveat that “No refunds of unused balances will be issued after the account is closed” (other state’s tariffs also removed this language). The removal of this phrase (on purpose) from the affected tariff section should mean that GTL may not now legally deny refunds on the closed accounts. But GTL continues to deny those refunds (unless the customer knows to contact someone like Monica McGrath).

Further, instead of posting online the April 22, 2008 changes to their tariff (within five days as required), GTL instead removed all traces of the tariff from the Internet by early May—and perhaps before (those pesky customers, let’s just remove the tariff!). Thus, by the time GTL once again changed their tariff effective June 24, 2008, the tariff by then is nowhere to be found on the Internet!

All the above highlights the fact that only those customers who catch GTL’s many continuing mistakes* (by researching their state’s tariff—if available), and who then sweat GTL (if they can even get in touch with them—or otherwise know who else to contact), ever get their money back. But of course, it’s all part of GTL’s plan. (*Actually, these are not mistakes at all. GTL knows very well what they are doing.)

GTL operates by enforcing all their policies on a nationwide basis, such as the 90-day account closing policy, the limit on phone numbers per account, and the no refunds on closed accounts (and their 19% surcharge on credit card funding of AdvancePay accounts). What they fail to take into account however, is that not all states in which they operate have adopted those general policies into their respective tariffs (or perhaps this policy has actually been implemented on purpose in order to make more money). It’s evident that GTL’s attitude is “F... those state tariffs,” with their mantra apparently being “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" Until someone sues GTL, however, they will continue to dodge those torpedoes one at a time.

Just thought I’d get this off my chest.

South Bay

PTO-110524
01-03-2009, 10:09 AM
Excellent post and I must agree with your frustration 100%.

The only easy remedy my friends and I have come up with to answer the rule of the 90-day inactivity, is to have other inmates call us when one of our loved ones is in Ad Seg, or on a lengthy lockdown, thereby keeping the account 'active.' I find it ridiculous to have to go to such lengths just to keep an account open.

My account is not a prepaid account. Mine is the Direct Bill/Remit. I don't ever have money left on my account that I might lose should my loved one not be able to call for a 90+ day period because I just receive an invoice each month and pay it - just like a regular phone bill.

But just having to deal with having my account closed and then having to even DEAL with GTL to get the account reinstated is more than I want to risk, so I would have to ask a friend to have her loved one call me so my account will stay active.

:angry:

sidewalker
01-03-2009, 12:32 PM
and people wonder why I dont like them (gtl)
I dont know why or how, but I am able to get phone calls. I do not have a separate bill, it comes on my regular phone bill and I do have a *service* charge on it, from gtl. Its nominal and I do not know if my hub didnt call, if the charge would still be there. hopefully I wont have to find out. (he avoids trouble and therefore risk getting put in the shu or otherwise be unable to call us)

this thread is very informative.
I hope it can help those looking for answers, and I wish the crooks would get into some trouble.

South Bay
01-03-2009, 02:10 PM
FYI Sidewinder, the *service* charge you are speaking about is technically called a "Single Bill Fee," and according to the GTL CA Tariff:

“A Single Bill Fee will apply to Customer's telephone bill each month in which local or long distance collect calls are accepted and billed on the Customer's local telephone bill. This fee is for the purpose of offsetting Company's billing and regulatory expenses associated with the services offered. This fee will be charged once per billing period regardless of the number of calls accepted. The fee will not apply in any billing period in which no collect calls are accepted. This fee does not apply to prepaid services paid for by commercial credit card or other means, or for prepaid services billed directly to the Customer by the Company.

Single Bill Fee, per month where applicable - $2.49”

The fee is applied to any monthly phone bills in which collect calls are accepted from a correctional facility. GTL (and others) impose it to cover the administrative cost of billing their calls on another phone company’s billing statement. Other than rate information, this fee is the only one in the GTL Tariff in which the actual amount is disclosed upfront (as opposed to the 19% credit card surcharge on AdvancePay accounts, which GTL merely terms a “transaction fee”).

From August 6, 2005 until June 24, 2008, the Single Bill Fee used to be $1.95. Based on information from the CPUC, it appears GTL has been correctly billing only the $1.95 amount up until the June revision date. If you or anyone else was charged the new amount anytime prior to June change date, please post or pm me with details.

South Bay

PTO-110524
01-03-2009, 04:56 PM
I am charged the $1.95 right on my monthly invoice from GTL.

About 3 months ago, I started getting a few of my husband's calls billed to my regular phone bill. This has not been the case for at least 3 years, so I was sure these were somehow duplicate billings, however upon further examination, it appears that each month now just a very few calls will appear on my regular phone bill and all the rest - the vast majority - are still on my GTL bill. Same cost per call. I have no idea why this is happening, but i write down each call and I've checked each month, and everything gets billed - never doubled billed - but at least 2 calls a month are now placed on my regular phone bill.

My guess is - GTL is making more money somehow for having some calls going thru my regular phone company. ??? It's a mystery.