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Sprint Prepaid calling card plan investigated

Date: 6/1/2009 2:46:17 AM

A Sprint-brand prepaid calling-card plan is under investigation by state phone regulators over a reported decision to prevent consumers from recharging the cards if they're used in Alaska and over such service problems as dropped calls and blackout times.

The Regulatory Commission of Alaska said it has opened a formal investigation into the practices of STi Prepaid LLC, which provides service through the Sprint- label cards.

The RCA said the cards were purchased at Sam's Club and possibly other retailers. They typically offered a 2.83-cents-per-minute rate. STi took over the cards last fall, the RCA said. At that time Sprint and STi told federal regulators who approved the takeover that customers would not be impacted by the transfer and would continue to receive services without any change in rates, terms, or conditions of service, the RCA said.

The state regulators recently ordered STi to reinstate the ability of Alaskans to recharge these cards. It plans a hearing for 6 p.m. July 7 at 701 E. Eighth Ave., Suite 800, in Anchorage. The RCA is taking public comments on service availability (Docket U-09-54) through July 6 and on the recharge practices (Docket U-09-55) through July 14.

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