PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION
Aretta M. Greenawald :
v. : F-2008-2051784
Verizon Pennsylvania Inc. :
Robert P. Meehan
Administrative Law Judge
This Initial Decision dismisses the complaint filed by Aretta M. Greenawald (Ms.
Greenawald) against Verizon Pennsylvania Inc. (Verizon), at Docket No. F-2008-2051784, for
the failure to satisfy the burden of proof.
HISTORY OF THE PROCEEDING
Ms. Greenawald’s complaint, alleging a billing dispute with respect to directory
assistance charges on her telephone bill, was received by the Commission on June 28, 2008. Her
complaint is a timely appeal from a determination of the Bureau of Consumer Services on her
informal complaint. Verizon’s answer to the complaint was received on August 11, 2008. On
August 27, 2008, Chief Administrative Law Judge Smith issued an Interim Order Setting
Resolution Conference in this case. Pursuant to that Order, a report was submitted to the
Mediation Unit. By letter dated March 4, 2009, the Commission informed the parties that the
hearing in this case would be held, by telephone, on April 7, 2009 at 10:00 a.m. On March 5,
2009, I issued a Prehearing Order in this case.
The hearing was held on April 7, 2009 as scheduled. Ms. Greenawald, who was
not represented by an attorney, appeared and testified in support of her complaint. She did not
submit any exhibits. Verizon, represented by counsel, presented the testimony of two witnesses
and submitted three exhibits, all of which were admitted into the record. The record, consisting
of the 45-page transcript of the hearing and the three exhibits, was closed by Order issued May 7,
FINDINGS OF FACT
1. The Complainant in this proceeding is Aretta M. Greenawald. Her
address is Box 438, Rock Run Road, Elizabeth, PA 15037-2417 (Tr. 11-12).
2. The Respondent in this proceeding is Verizon Pennsylvania Inc.
3. Ms. Greenawald began to be charged for directory assistance calls on her
telephone bills in September of 2006, shortly after a Verizon service technician replaced a
broken wire at or near her residence. Ms. Greenawald testified that she did not make the
directory assistance calls for which she was charged by Verizon (Tr. 12, 30-31, 40).
4. Ms. Greenawald continued to be billed for directory assistance charges
during the next two and a half years (Tr. 12).
5. Ms. Greenawald complained to Verizon about the directory assistance
charges on her telephone bill, and Verizon would adjust the bill to remove the charges or credit
her account in the amount of the directory assistance charges (Tr. 12).
6. In May of 2008, Ms. Greenawald complained to the Commission about
the charges for directory assistance appearing on her telephone bills and filed the present
complaint (appeal). In addition, Ms. Greenawald contacted a Tom McGuire of Verizon about
her problem (Tr. 12-13).
7. Ms. Greenawald believes that Verizon did try to get the problem resolved,
but a solution was not found. Considering all the automation available, she does not understand
how Verizon could not find the problem causing her to be billed for directory assistance calls she
did not make (Tr. 12-13).
8. The last contact Ms. Greenawald had with Verizon about the directory
assistance charges on her telephone bill was sometime in 2009, when she was informed that
Verizon would no longer adjust her account to remove the charges (Tr. 12).
9. Ms. Greenawald switched her telephone service to Comcast starting on
February 13, 2009. Her telephone bills have not contained charges for directory assistance calls
since she switched her telephone service to Comcast (Tr. 12-13).
10. At the time she changed her telephone carrier to Comcast, Ms.
Greenawald did not have any outstanding bill due and owing to Verizon. She later received an
approximate $20.00 refund from Verizon (Tr. 13-14; 39).
11. Ms. Greenawald is asking the Commission to determine how and why she
was billed by Verizon for directory assistance calls that she did not make (Tr. 15).
12. Verizon has dispatched technicians to Ms. Greenawald’s to investigate
what the potential problems with Ms. Greenawald’s service might be. The investigations did not
find any problems with Verizon’s facilities or lines that might be the source of Ms. Greenawald’s
having been billed for directory assistance calls that she did not make (Tr. 17, 29-30).
13. Verizon’s efforts to identify and correct the problems Ms. Greenawald
was experiencing being billed for directory assistance calls included putting her telephone
service on a different “copper pair” and changing all of her facilities from the terminal at her
residence back to the central office in December of 2008. This was done to eliminate any
possibility that someone might have illegally tapped onto her line. During this change, no
physical problems with her telephone service were found (Tr. 23-24; Verizon Ex. 1).
14. Verizon had also inspected Ms. Greenawald’s telephone service from its
central office to her residence in July of 2008, and did not find any indication of any illegal
tapping or any other indication of trouble with the line (Tr. 24-25; Verizon Ex. 1).
15. In June of 2008, Verizon checked the line providing telephone service to
Ms. Greenawald to make sure her telephone number was not at multiple locations. No “cut
throughs” were found anywhere along the route of the cable where Verizon could have tapped
into it to provide dial tone to someone else using the same cable pair being used to provide dial
tone to Ms. Greenawald (Tr. 25-26; Verizon Ex. 1).
16. In May of 2008, a Verizon technician checked Ms. Greenawald’s
telephone line from the “NID”, the network interface device, on the side of her home to the
terminal pole by her house. No trouble was found by the technician during this inspection
(Tr. 26-27; Verizon Ex. 1).
17. In March of 2008, a Verizon technician inspected Ms. Greenawald’s
telephone line from the NID to the terminal pole, and performed standard tests on her line. No
trouble was found (Tr. 28; Verizon Ex. 1).
18. Standard tests are performed to check for voltage balance on the pairs all
the way from the customer’s premise back to the central office. The technicians have a device
called a “side kick” which can perform that check to see if the voltage runs straight back to the
central office, or if there is something interfering with the line which would cause it to be longer
than it should be. The latter would be a great warning signal that someone had tapped into the
customer’s line, or that the customer’s number might be being sent to more than just her home
19. Also in March of 2008, an automated test was performed on Ms.
Greenawald’s line from the central office. No trouble was found during the automated test
(Tr. 29; Verizon Ex. 1).
20 On August 26, 2008; December 22, 2008; and January 28, 2009, Verizon
credited Ms. Greenawald’s account for the directory assistance charges that appeared on her
telephone bills. On October 21, 2008, Verizon also gave Ms. Greenawald a $75.00 credit to
cover the cost of a new cordless telephone (Tr. 34-35; Verizon Ex. 2).
21. If neighbors are using cordless telephones, and if the security settings on
the separate cordless telephone should be the same, there is the possibility of a cross-connection
between Ms. Greenawald’s cordless telephone and that of a neighbor (Tr. 35).
22. Verizon offered to reimburse Ms. Greenawald for the cost of a new
cordless telephone to eliminate the possibility of a cross-connection as the source of her problem
of receiving bills for directory assistance calls (Tr. 35).
23. Between September 2006 and February 2009, when Ms. Greenawald
ended her telephone service with Verizon, she had been billed a total of $69.95 for directory
assistance calls. Verizon issued credits for such calls in the amount of $50.95, and, in addition,
gave her the $75.00 credit for a new cordless telephone (Tr. 37-38; Verizon Ex. 3).
Section 701 of the Public Utility Code (Code), 66 Pa. C.S. §701, provides that any
person may complain, in writing, about any act or thing done or omitted to be done by a public
utility in violation, or claimed violation, of any law which the Commission has the jurisdiction to
administer, or of any regulation or order of the Commission. Section 332(a) of the Code, 66 Pa.
C.S. §332(a), provides that the party seeking affirmative relief from the Commission has the
burden of proof.
In alleging a billing dispute pertaining to charges for directory assistance calls,
and requesting to determine how and why she was being billed for such charges, it is clear that
Ms. Greenawald is the party seeking affirmative relief from the Commission, and, therefore, has
the burden of proof. This means that she has the duty to establish a fact by a preponderance of
the evidence, and must show that the utility is responsible or accountable for the problem
described in the complaint. Se-Ling Hosiery, Inc. v. Margulies, 364 Pa. 45, 70 A.2d 854 (1950);
Feinstein v. Philadelphia Suburban Water Company, 50 PA PUC 300 (1976). Additionally, care
must be exercised to insure that the decision of the Commission is supported by substantial
evidence in the record. More is required than a mere trace of evidence or a suspicion of the
existence of a fact sought to be established. See, e.g., Section 704 of the Administrative Agency
Law, 2 Pa. C.S. §704; Norfolk & Western Ry. Co. v. PA PUC, 489 Pa. 109, 413 A.2d 1037
(1980); Erie Resistor Corp. v. Unemployment Comp. Bd. of Review, 194 Pa. Superior Ct. 278,
166 A.2d 96 (1961); and Murphy v. Dept. of Public Welfare, White Haven Center, 480 A.2d 382
(Pa. Cmwlth 1984).
Upon the presentation by a Complainant of evidence sufficient to initially satisfy
the burden of proof, the burden of going forward with the evidence, sometimes called the burden
of persuasion, to rebut the evidence of the customer shifts to the Respondent. If the evidence
presented by the Respondent is of co-equal value or “weight”, the burden of proof has not been
satisfied. The Complainant now has to provide some additional evidence to rebut that of the
Respondent. Morrissey v. PA Dept. of Highways, 424 Pa. 87, 225 A.2d 895 (1967), and
Burleson v. Pa. P.U.C. 66 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 282, 443 A.2d 1373 (1982), aff’d. 501 Pa.
443, 461 A.2d 1234. For example, if one driver claims that an accident occurred on a dry road
on a sunny day, and the other driver claims that the road was wet and it was raining at the time of
the accident, neither driver has satisfied the burden of proof. Additional evidence concerning the
condition of the road and weather must now be provided by one or the other.
While the burden of persuasion may shift back and forth during a proceeding, the
burden of proof never shifts. The burden of proof always remains on the party seeking
affirmative relief from the Commission. Milkie v. PA PUC, 768 A.2d 1217 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2001);
Waldron v. Philadelphia Electric Company, 54 PA PUC 98 (1980), and Replogle v. Philadelphia
Electric Company, 54 PA PUC 528 (1980).
Ms. Greenawald’s testimony is that beginning in September of 2006 and
continuing until she changed her telephone carrier in February of 2009, she was billed by
Verizon for directory assistance calls she did not make. Since she changed telephone carriers in
February of 2009, she has not received any telephone bill containing charges for directory
assistance calls. She believes that Verizon has tried to find the source of this problem, and
doesn’t understand, with all the automation available, why this matter had not been corrected.
Verizon’s evidence is that it has conducted several tests and inspections of its
facilities that had provided telephone service to Ms. Greenawald, including changing all of her
facilities from her home all the way back to the central office. None of the tests, inspections or
facilities change found any problem with Verizon’s equipment or facilities that could have been
the source of the directory assistance billings. In addition to the inspections, etc., which it
performed, Verizon also gave Ms. Greenawald credit for $50.95 of the total of $69.95 in
directory assistance charges billed to her between September of 2006 and February of 2009.
Further, Verizon also gave Ms. Greenawald a $75.00 credit to reimburse her for a new cordless
phone she purchased at Verizon’s suggestion to eliminate any possible cross-connection between
her cordless telephone and that of a neighbor.
Considering the entire record in this case, it is my opinion that the evidence
presented by Verizon is sufficient to rebut any prima facie case established by Ms. Greenawald.
Additionally, Ms. Greenawald’s change of telephone carriers precludes any further investigation
into Verizon’s provision of telephone service to her, because she is no longer a telephone
customer of Verizon. Accordingly, Ms. Greenawald’s complaint should be dismissed for the
failure to satisfy the burden of proof.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
1. The parties to and subject matter of this telephone service billing dispute
are properly before the Commission.
2. Ms. Greenawald, the party seeking affirmative relief from the
Commission, has the burden of proof.
3. Ms. Greenawald has failed to satisfy the burden of proof.
4. The complaint of Ms. Greenaway against Verizon should be dismissed.
IT IS ORDERED:
That the complaint of Aretta M. Greenawald against Verizon Pennsylvania Inc., at
Docket No. F-2008-2057184, is dismissed, for the failure to satisfy the burden of proof.
Date: July 28, 2009
F-2008-2051784 ARETTA M. GREENAWALD V. VERIZON PENNSYLVANIA INC.
ARETTA M GREENAWALD
438 ROCK RUN ROAD
ELIZABETH PA 15037-2417
STEVEN K HAAS ESQUIRE
HAWKE MCKEON & SNISCAK LLP
100 NORTH TENTH STREET
P O BOX 1778
HARRISBURG PA 17105-1778