Sample Proposal Letter to Offer Credit Card by lgp11899


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									                                                                                        Lee Schavrien
                                                                         Regulatory Case Management
                                                                             and Tariff Administration

                                                                                        101 Ash Street
                                                                             San Diego, CA 92101-3017

                                                                                   Tel: 619.696.4050
                                                                                 Pager: 800.456.9141
October 10, 2000                                                                  Fax: 619.696.4027

Advice No. 2965

Public Utilities Commission of the State of California

Subject: Credit/Debit Card Payment Options Pilot

Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) hereby submits for filing with the Public
Utilities Commission (Commission) this request for approval to offer an additional payment
option for SoCalGas’ core customers.


The purpose of this filing is to seek approval to implement a one-year pilot program
providing for payment of bills by credit card or debit card.

Summary of Facts

SoCalGas proposes to implement a one-year pilot program in which core customers will
be given the additional option of paying their gas bills by telephone using an authorized
credit card or debit card. Credit and debit card payments will be made available through
a duly authorized independent service provider; a transaction fee for these services over
and above the Utility bill amount will be charged to the customer by the independent
service provider.

This proposal complies with SoCalGas’ Tariff Rule No. 12, Payment of Bills, which states
that, “Payment shall be made at the office of the Utility or, at the Utility’s option, to duly
authorized collectors of the Utility.” (Tariff Rule No. 12, paragraph A, emphasis
added). SoCalGas has appended a copy of Tariff Rule No. 12 to this advice letter, as
Attachment B.

Approximately ten months after the start of the pilot program for credit and debit card
payments, SoCalGas will provide the Commission with a report assessing the value and
effectiveness of these payment options. If appropriate, SoCalGas will file another advice
letter seeking approval to make these payment options available to customers on a
permanent basis.

SoCalGas believes payment by credit and debit cards provides a particularly useful tool
for customers to manage winter bills, which SoCalGas anticipates to be higher this
winter than in previous years. Consequently, SoCalGas intends to launch this pilot
program by January 19, 2001, to address customer needs.
Advice No. 2965                            -2-                             October 10, 2000

SoCalGas has appended a description of consumer protection measures and sample
informational material associated with the proposed pilot program as Attachments C and
D to this advice letter, respectively.

This filing will not affect any other rate or charge, cause the withdrawal of service, nor
conflict with any other rate or schedule.


Anyone may protest this advice letter to the California Public Utilities Commission. The
protest must state the grounds upon which it is based, including such items as financial
and service impact, and should be submitted expeditiously. The protest must be made in
writing and received within 20 days of the date this supplemental advice letter was filed
with the Commission. There is no restriction on who may file a protest. The address for
mailing or delivering a protest to the Commission is:

               IMC Branch Program Manager
               Energy Division
               California Public Utilities Commission
               505 Van Ness Avenue, Room 4002
               San Francisco, CA 94102

A copy should also be mailed to the attention of the Energy Division-IMC Branch, Room
4005 (at the address shown above). It is also requested that a copy of the protest be sent
via electronic mail and facsimile to SoCalGas (at the addresses shown below) on the
same date it is mailed or delivered to the Commission.

               Attn: Steve Pangarliotas, ML 28A4
               Energy Distribution Services - Mass Markets
               Southern California Gas Company
               555 West Fifth Street
               Los Angeles, California 90013-1011
               Facsimile No. (213) 244-8252

               Attn: Sid Newsom
               Regulatory Tariff Administration - GT14D6
               555 West Fifth Street
               Los Angeles, CA 90013-1011
               Facsimile No. (213) 244-4957

               Attn: C. Richard Swanson
               Regulatory Tariff Manager - HQ14C
               101 Ash Street
               San Diego, CA 92101-3017
               Facsimile No. (619) 696-4027
Advice No. 2965                            -3-                              October 10, 2000

Requested Effective Date

This filing will not result in an increase in any rate or charge, conflict with other schedules
or rules, or cause the withdrawal of service or result in more restrictive conditions of
service. Therefore, SoCalGas believes that no resolution is required for this filing.
SoCalGas respectfully requests that this filing become effective January 19, 2001, which
is more than forty (40) days regular statutory notice.


In accordance with Section III.G of General Order No. 96-A, a copy of this advice letter is
being sent to the parties shown on Attachment A.

                                                  LEE SCHAVRIEN
                                     Director -- Regulatory Case Management
                                              and Tariff Administration

          ATTACHMENT A
           Advice No. 2965

General Order 96-A Distribution List

  Burbank Public Service Department
  California Manufacturers Association
  City of Anaheim Public Utilities Department
  City of Azusa Light and Power Department
  City of Banning Municipal Utilities
  City of Lompoc
  City of Los Angeles
  City of Riverside, Public Utilities Department
  City of Vernon, Director, Water & Power Department
  Colton Bureau of Light & Water
  General Services Administration, San Francisco
  General Services Administration, Washington D.C.
  Glendale Public Service Department
  Imperial Irrigation District
  Long Beach Gas Department
  Los Angeles Department of Water and Power
  March Air Force Base
  Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Western Division
  Pacific Gas and Electric Company
  Pasadena Water and Power Department
  San Diego Gas & Electric Company
  Southern California Edison Company
  Southwest Gas Corporation
  The Utility Reform Network
  Vandenberg Air Force Base
 Advice No. 2965

   Rule No. 12


  (see attached)
 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA GAS COMPANY Revised                            CAL. P.U.C. SHEET NO.   28817-G*
       LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA CANCELING Revised                    CAL. P.U.C. SHEET NO.   28498-G
                                                                                                 Sheet    1 of    1
                                                  Rule No. 12
                                               PAYMENT OF BILLS

 A. Bills for gas service will be based upon the measured quantity of gas delivered to the customer, except
    as provided in Rule No. 14(e), and as noted in Section D. below. Such bills will be rendered at regular
    intervals and are due and payable upon presentation. Payment shall be made at the office of the Utility
    or, at the Utility's option, to duly authorized collectors of the Utility.

 B. Removal bills, special bills, bills rendered on vacation of premises, or bills rendered to persons
    discontinuing the service shall be paid on presentation. Bills for connection or reconnection of service
    and payments for deposits or for reinstatement of deposits as required under rules of the Utility shall be
    paid before service will be connected or reconnected.

 C. The Utility may demand and collect a $7.50 fee when a customer's payment is returned unpaid by the

 D. LevelPay Payment Option                                                                                            T
    This Payment Option (formerly known as Level Pay Plan) is available to customers, subject to the                   |
    following conditions:                                                                                              |
    1. Eligible customers include the following facilities:                                                            |
       a. Residential meter that is individually metered;                                                              T
       b. Residential master-meter, excluding submetering facilities, that use less than 3,000 therms per              N
          year; and                                                                                                    |
       c. Core commercial and core industrial meters that use less than 3,000 therms per year.                         N

    2. Eligibility requirements include:                                                                               T
       a. Customer has no outstanding arrears on their account at the time their Plan starts, or agrees to             |
          amoritize the arrears amount .                                                                               |
       b. In the event that a customer has been involuntarily removed from LevelPay for non-payment,                   |
          customer has made payment of all past due amounts .                                                          |
    3. Participation is subject to approval by the Utility.                                                            |
    4. Eligible customers may join in any month.                                                                       |
    5. Participating customer may voluntarily withdraw from the program.                                               |
    6. For customers participating in this payment option,                                                             |
       a. Anticipated bills for a twelve-month period will be apportioned among twelve months, regardless              |
          of the actual consumption during that month;                                                                 |
       b. Customer accounts are periodically reviewed and adjusted as appropriate;                                     |
       c. The twelfth billing will be the settlement month, at which time bills for actual use will be balanced        |
          against the amounts billed; an d                                                                             |
       d. Any over- or under- billings will be resolved on the settlement month.                                       T

  (TO BE INSERTED BY UTILITY)                        ISSUED BY                       (TO BE INSERTED BY CAL. P.U.C.)
ADVICE LETTER NO.   2600                        Paul J. Cardenas                 DATE FILED       JUN 11,1997
DECISION NO.   97-04-029                         VICE PRESIDENT                  EFFECTIVE        JUN 11,1997
                                           CHIEF REGULATORY OFFICER              RESOLUTION NO.
                                    ATTACHMENT C

                                    Advice No. 2965

                          Consumer Protection Measures

Selection of a Credit/Debit Card Service Provider:

SoCalGas has issued a Request for Proposal from a number of independent service
providers. SoCalGas will select, for this pilot program, the service provider whose
proposal indicates the best balance of experience, low transaction fee, financial strength,
ease of implementation, customer satisfaction, and consumer protection measures.

SoCalGas will require, through a written agreement, the authorized card payment
facilitator to employ stringent consumer protections. These protections will ensure that
consumers are well informed about the service they are using, protected from cramming
and other forms of fraud, have adequate access to customer service support, and can
be secure in the knowledge that their customer information is being kept strictly

Eliminating Customer Confusion:

To eliminate customer confusion regarding card payments, SoCalGas will require the
service provider to disclose all relevant terms of service to potential customers. First,
when customers call the service provider’s toll-free number, they will immediately be
informed that they have reached an independent service provider that is authorized by
SoCalGas to accept gas bill payments by credit and debit cards.

Next, customers will be advised that there is a transaction fee charged by the service
provider for card payments and the amount of the transaction fee (the current range for
credit card payments is $3.00 to $6.00; the current range for debit card payments is
$1.50 to $3.00). At this point, the customer can choose to terminate or proceed with the
transaction. Should the customer choose to proceed by inputting card information and
desired payment amount, a second advisory will provide the specific transaction fee
associated with making a card payment. And, again, the customer can choose to either
terminate or authorize payment. By incorporating this type of redundancy, customers will
have a clear understanding of these options and their responsibility should they elect to
make a card payment.

To prevent cramming, the service provider will not be permitted to place any charges on
SoCalGas bills. In fact, the service provider will only be able to charge customers its
stated transaction fee, which will appear on the customer’s bank or credit card statement
– not the SoCalGas bill -- as a separate and distinct line item next to the vendor’s name
(e.g., ABC Payments         $x.xx).
Protections Against Use of Lost or Stolen Cards:

Equally important will be various transaction screening safeguards employed by the
service provider to mitigate the possibility of unauthorized card use, such as use of a lost
or stolen card, or use of a credit card number from a receipt imprint. Before a
transaction can be completed, the credit or debit card will go through several steps of
real-time authentication and verification.

If the service provider’s system determines that the card being used was reported lost or
stolen, the transaction will be terminated immediately. Further, credit card transactions
will not be completed unless the customer inputs either one, or several, of the following:
the correct ZIP code associated with the card billing address, the expiration date of the
card, and the 3-digit number found only on the back of the card. Similarly, debit card
transactions cannot be completed unless the customer inputs the correct PIN or 3-digit
number found on the back of some debit cards.

Access to Customer Support Services:

Customers opting to utilize the designated service provider to make card payments
would also call that service provider with any service inquiries related to card payments.
Consequently, SoCalGas will require the service provider to maintain adequate customer
service resources to handle service inquiries expeditiously and professionally. In
instances when a customer disputes a card payment, the service provider will be
required to research the transaction with the credit card company or bank and provide
details to the customer. If the details do not seem familiar, and the customer still wishes
to dispute that they made the transaction, the dispute will become a “charge-back” and
the customer’s card will be credited for the disputed bill amount.

Protection of Customer Information:

Finally, SoCalGas will require the service provider to strictly maintain confidentiality of
customer information, and to establish and maintain procedures to safeguard that
                                    ATTACHMENT D

                                     Advice No. 2965

                            Sample Informational Material

Informational material is provided for illustrative purposes only. It is intended to outline
generally what SoCalGas will say when customers are notified of these new service
options. Appropriate modifications may be needed, depending on the means of
communication, such as a bill insert, newsletter, website, or via a SoCalGas Customer
Service Representative.

“SoCalGas now allows you to pay your gas bill by credit or debit card through a duly
authorized independent service provider.”

“To pay your bill with a credit or debit card, all you need is a touch-tone phone, your Gas
Company account number and credit card or debit card.”

“A fee of $X.XX for each credit card transaction and $X.XX for each debit card
transaction will be charged by ‘ABC Payments,’ the independent service provider.”

“Simply call the service provider at their toll- free number, 1-800-555-1234, to pay by
credit or debit card.”

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