Gansler settles with calling card company

Keith Loria Aug. 11, 2010, 4:15pm


BALTIMORE (Legal Newsline) - Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler announced on Wednesday that his office has reached a settlement with a prepaid telephone calling card company.

Telmex USA LLC, a subsidiary of Telefonos de Mexico S.A.B. de C.V., the primary telecommunications carrier for Mexico, allegedly sold calling cards in Maryland through its distributors and their retailers, targeting Latinos living in Prince George's and Montgomery counties who have relatives living outside the United States.

The company claimed the calling cards could be used for more than 100 different cities outside of the United States, including major cities in Latin and South America, Africa, Europe and Asia.

The company advertised the cards as delivering high calling minutes. Gansler, however, alleges that the cards delivered far fewer minutes than promised.

One ad promised that a $5.00 "Sonrisa" brand prepaid calling card would deliver 1,250 calling minutes to Mexico City, Guadalajara or Monterrey, but Gansler claims that wasn't true.

"Consumers have a right to receive what they are promised," Gansler said.

"Through today's settlement, Telmex USA and all of its distributors must reform their practices and deliver the calling minutes that they promise to consumers."

Telmex denied that it had violated the Consumer Protection Act. It has agreed to stop selling prepaid calling cards to Maryland consumers unless the purchaser will receive all of the minutes that are advertised when using the card for phone services.

Telmex will pay $60,000 in restitution be used to fund a state agency or charitable program to benefit persons who may have been affected by the actions that led to the settlement. Telmex has also agreed to pay a $90,000 civil penalty and $45,000 in court costs.

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