Kokua Line

Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Friday, March 12, 1999

Long-distance phone
taxes puzzle
even experts

On my bill from my long-distance carrier, MCI WorldCom, are various taxes and surcharges. Some I may have to pay, but others appear to be duplicated. I called MCI's customer service and was told I had to call my local government since it was the one levying the state and local taxes and surcharges. Can you help determine how the various fees, taxes and surcharges are levied? Under Taxes and Surcharges are listed: Federal Excise Tax; State & Local Taxes; Federal, State and Local Surcharges; State & Local Taxes -- Out of State; State & Local Surcharges -- Out of State; 4.00% State Tax -- Hawaii Income.

It's almost impossible to decipher the various charges, surcharges, fees and taxes that are now showing up on your phone bill, agreed Jo Ann Uchida, executive director of the state Office of Consumer Protection.

Sorting them all out is "going to take a lot longer than we thought," she said.

Her staff has already gotten an explanation from GTE Hawaiian Tel about its charges, but is now in the process of getting a "more comprehensive description of the particular charges" from all the different long-distance carriers, such as MCI.

In general, "we need to get a meeting of minds as to what they're putting on their bills," Uchida said. "We're getting a lot of cramming complaints (about unauthorized charges) so it's important for people to be able to figure what they should be paying and what they shouldn't be paying," she said.

Uchida said she would let Kokua Line readers what she finds out.


I want to make an advance payment for child support and the Child Support Enforcement Agency refused to accept my money. The verbal response I got was that they did not have people to input it. As far as staffing goes, that should not be my problem. I want to ensure the funds are there to be disbursed. They make a big issue over someone who's a month late, so why won't they take my money?

Your problem apparently was the result of a misunderstanding, said CSEA Administrator Michael Meaney.

The new KEIKI Automated System has been programmed to accept and handle advance payments as "future payments" as long as they are coded as such in the system, Meaney said.

However, he did note that during the agency's conversion to the computerized system, it was "unable to recognize advance payments in the old system as such and refunded the monies that were on hold." But that occurred in "one-time-only cases," he said.

The CSEA will accept "cash" payments, but recommends paying by check or money order for protection and recording purposes.

"All staff are being reminded of this service available under the KEIKI system and we apologize for any misunderstanding that may have occurred," Meaney said.



To the runner who found, and turned in, my black Velcro key-and-money-holder on the Great Aloha Run race course. -- J.J.



To all the jaywalkers on Kaheka Street near Daiei. Cars have to come to a screeching halt while these people saunter across the street like they own it. Something should be done or this will turn into a jaywalker's death row. -- R.



To Peerless TV, who made our day by being honest. They told us to take a defective TV back to Costco Salt Lake, where it was purchased as a gift. Debbie at the front desk took the TV back without a hassle, calling the Hawaii Kai Costco to hold a set for us. We're happy to shop there for that kind of service. -- Mrs. E. Ing and sons

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fax 525-6711, or write to P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
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