Circuit OK’s Class Action Over WireWatch Service

     CINCINNATI (CN) – The 6th Circuit held that CenturyTel customers were properly granted class certification over their claims that the phone company billed them for an unregulated, optional service called WireWatch.

     Plaintiffs claim that “CenturyTel has routinely and systematically charged customers for its optional inside wire maintenance program by ‘cramming’ charges onto customers’ telephone bills.”
     The WireWatch service “covers the cost of diagnosis and repair of inside wiring and/or jack damages that can interrupt (customers’) phone service,” according to the company.
     Customers claim that the price of WireWatch increased from $0.99 per month in 1994 to $3.95 per month in 2001. If plaintiffs pursue their claims individually, the circuit noted, the most each could recover is about $124.
     Such a small possible recovery discourages individuals from suing and makes a class action the “superior mechanism” for litigation, Judge Cole wrote. See ruling.

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