Midwest regulators question Ameritech

CHICAGO: Regulators from five Midwestern states are turning up the PR heat on phone company Ameritech, calling on senior company officials from its parent SBC Communications to appear before regulators.

CHICAGO: Regulators from five Midwestern states are turning up the PR heat on phone company Ameritech, calling on senior company officials from its parent SBC Communications to appear before regulators.

CHICAGO: Regulators from five Midwestern states are turning up the PR heat on phone company Ameritech, calling on senior company officials from its parent SBC Communications to appear before regulators.

State phone company regulators from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin held an unprecedented joint press conference September 29 in Chicago to express their displeasure with Ameritech.

They called for a public meeting where they will ask SBC senior management to address the problems.

'The chairmen (of the state regulatory agencies) decided it was worthwhile to send a strong statement and message,' said David Farrell, director of public affairs with the Illinois Commerce Commission.

Complaints about poor Ameritech service in Illinois alone were 37% higher from January to August 2000 than for the five previous years combined, Farrell noted. 'This is when you invoke a crisis plan' for improving customer and regulatory relations, he added.

Larry Solomon, VP of corporate communications with SBC, said the company has been communicating with customers, regulators and the media.'We've apologized to our customers, we've apologized to regulators,' he said, though he wouldn't say if SBC's CEO would appear before the expected meeting of the regulatory bodies.

SBC bought Ameritech last October, reducing PR staff in places like Chicago and Detroit, but Solomon denied that change was hurting PR efforts today.

Mike King, who oversees the company's Illinois regulatory and legislative communications, said, 'We look forward to a public forum.'



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