Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Saturday, April 18, 1998

Sweepstakes settlement
with state won’t be split

I read in the newspaper of a $50,000 settlement awarded to Hawaii against American Family Publishers to settle a class-action suit related to deceptive advertising. How do I submit a claim?

No claims are being accepted. Instead, the money will be used by the state Office of Consumer Protection in its consumer-enforcement activities, said Executive Director Jo Ann Uchida.

"Because of the nature of the solicitations, there was not a lot of money that had to be returned to consumers," she said. In other words, most people spent money but they received something -- magazines -- in return.

Nationally, all states that received a settlement will use it to continue monitoring such activities, Uchida said.


What are the requirements now for someone in their 70s renewing their drivers license? I will turn 70 on May 2. Do I have to take a written test?

You no longer have to take a written test, but you still have to be tested for your vision. Drivers aged 18 to 71, such as you, will be given six-year licenses, at a cost of $18. Drivers aged 15-17 get four-year licenses ($12), those 72 and over, two-year licenses ($6).


Phone carrier complaints?

A recent complaint about MCI prompted two other complaints about the long-distance carrier: One concerned about how a switch to MCI was made; the second about unresolved billing errors. Both readers wanted to know who to complain to other than the company.

The answer: The Federal Communications Commission.

Complaints about rates or services provided within a state (intrastate) should be addressed to the state Public Utilities Commission. Those involving another state or country should be filed with the FCC.

You can file either an informal or formal complaint.

The latter "are no less important than formal complaints," the FCC says.

Informal complaints involve no charge and give carriers a chance to try to resolve complaints promptly.

To file an informal complaint, simply write a letter describing the problem to: Federal Communications Commission, Common Carrier Bureau, Consumer Complaints, Mail Stop Code 1600A2, Washington, D.C. 20554.

Include as much detail as possible, including a number you can be reached during the day.

The FCC serves the complaint to all companies named that are under its jurisdiction. The companies are directed to satisfy or answer the complaint and to report the results, in writing, to the FCC with a certain time, usually 30 days. You will receive a copy of the report.

The FCC then reviews the complaint and response to make sure all issues are addressed, and that the company's actions "are consistent with relevant statutory provisions, FCC rules and decisions, and industry practices."

After that, it will decide what action to take, if any.

If you're not satisfied with a response to an informal complaint, you can file a formal complaint.

Call FCC's National Call Center, toll-free, at 1-888-225-5322, or the FCC's Enforcement Division Consumer Hotline at 202-632-7553 to get forms and instructions.

There is a fee, an attorney is usually required, and facts must be supported by documentation.

Since we're talking about the FCC, if you've got complaints about cellular telephone, paging, commercial mobile radio and other wireless common carrier services, write to the FCC, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, Washington, D.C. 20554.

Need help with problems? Call Kokua Line at 525-8686,
fax 525-6711, or write to P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
Email to kokualine@starbulletin.com

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