Frequently Asked Questions

From bills to deposits to static on the line, all the information associated with the telephone system can seem quite extensive and confusing. The following is a list of the most frequently asked questions telephone customers in Arizona have concerning their telephone bill.
What are all these charges on my bill?
Have you ever wondered what all the charges on your monthly bill are for? The following is list of explanations for the regulated charges on your bill.

Monthly Service Charge:

Line Backer or Inside Wire Maintenance Charge (if applicable):

Federal Access Charge:

Arizona Universal Service Fund - A fee that every subscriber pays into a State Fund that provides money to extend phone service to remote or rural areas of Arizona that don't have service or are extremely costly to serve.

Federally-ordered charge that pays for a portion of the costs of your phone line from the local company into your home. An optional charge that covers the repair costs in the event that the cause of a service problem is located inside your home. The charge that you pay monthly for having telephone service. The Arizona Corporation Commission sets this rate after a company files a rate case. Commission staff audits the expenses, income and financial requirements of the company before setting the rates. Many people are involved in rate cases to ensure that the final rates set by the Commission meet the legal standards for rate setting.

Federal Universal Service Fund: A federal fund that provides money to telephone companies for service that they provide in high cost areas of the United States or its territories. The fund helps to ensure that telephone service in available in high cost areas.

911 Access Charge:


Late Charges (if applicable):

Federal Excise Tax:

A tax imposed by the United States government for the privilege of sending and receiving calls through the telecommunications network. Funds collected go to the United States Treasury. Charges from prior bills that were not paid or posted by the time the next bill was issued by the phone company.
A charge to help offset the cost of 911 and services for the hearing impaired.
What does the company need from me to start service?
Setting up new service can be a confusing and time-consuming. Below are several questions and answers detailing exactly what information you will need to set up new service.
A customer must provide the following to establish service:
  • Customer Name
  • Address or location of telephone service
  • Billing address
  • Address of prior service (if w/ same company)
  • Start Date of new Service
Do I have to give my social security number?

You do not have to give your social security number to establish service. However, if the company is not able to retrieve sufficient credit information without your social security number, a deposit may be required.


Can a company require a deposit?
A company may require that a new customer make a deposit for new service if the customer DOES NOT meet any of the following requirements:
In the past 2 years, the customer has had continuous service from the company and was not delinquent more than once during the last 12 months of service.

Applicant can produce a letter from their prior company stating the applicant had a timely payment history and has no outstanding liability from prior service.


Are the deposit limits controlled?
The amount of the deposit shall not exceed:

  For residential customers 2 times the estimated average monthly bill.

  For non-residential customers 2 1/2 times the estimated average monthly bill.

When is the deposit refunded?
Deposits are refunded to the customer once that customer has made timely payments for 12 consecutive months, or is discontinuing service.

The refunded deposit shall include interest at a rate approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission.


Can a utility require a deposit from an established customer?

A utility may require a deposit from an established customer if the customer becomes delinquent on 2 or more bills during the past 12 months.


How often can a telephone company issue a bill and when is it due?
Telephone bills shall be rendered every 25-35 days.

Payment is due 15 days after the bill is issued. If a payment is not received in this time, a late fee will be applicable.


How are telephone rates set?

The Arizona Corporation Commission sets rates which provide the company a fair rate of return and are still affordable to Arizona customers.


When can a utility disconnect service?
A utility must give notice to disconnect service for any of the following reasons:

  Customer has failed to pay a bill for utility service.
  Customer has failed to meet or maintain the utility's credit and deposit requirements.
  Customer has failed to provide the utility access to it's equipment and property.
  Customer is in breach of contract for service between the utility and customer.
  Customer has sold utility equipment or service without authorization.
  Customer is in violation of any of the company's tariffs filed at the Arizona Corporation Commission and/or the Commission's rules and regulations.

A utility may disconnect service WITHOUT notice for any of the following reasons:

  An obvious safety hazard exists or the health of a customer or the general population is at risk.

Are payment plans available?
Sometimes, telephone companies are willing to make payment arrangements on large bills. These payment arrangements, called deferred payments, break large bills down into monthly installments. This enables you to pay off a large bill over time without being disconnected.

If you have questions about special payment plans, contact your local telephone company. (R14-2-508)


If I am unable to pay my entire bill, what can I do to maintain local dial tone?

The Arizona Administrative Code specifically states that a telephone company may not disconnect a customer for failure to pay an unregulated portion of their bill. To maintain local service, you must pay for the regulated (landline) charges on your telephone bill while you work to resolve problems with the other portion of your bill. If you fail to pay the unregulated charges on your bill, those services may be subject to disconnection and a deposit to reestablish. (R14-2-509)


How much notice does a telephone company have to give before disconnecting service?

A telephone company is required to give 5 days advance written notice before disconnecting service. (R14-5-509 Section E)


Can a telephone company disconnect my service on a weekend or holiday?

Though not an Arizona Corporation Commission regulation, it is the policy of most telephone companies not to disconnect service on weekends and banking holidays.


Can I restrict my phone from long-distance calls?

Yes. You are not required to have long distance service on your telephone. You may contact your telephone company and request to have your service restricted from making long distance calls. If you choose to do this, you will still be able to receive long distance calls.


What is "SLAMMING"?

"Slamming" is any practice that changes your local or long distance telephone company without your consent. It is unfair competition that robs you of your right to choose companies and it most often happens without your knowledge. It is wrong, and there are things that you can do about it.


What can I do to prevent "SLAMMING" on my account?
Tell your local telephone company that you did not request a change to the "new" carrier and you want to be switched back. Tell them that you want to be reconnected to the carrier you had prior to the slamming incident. Then call the company that slammed you and tell them you will pay only those charges that your regular phone company would have imposed for the calls you made. You should also request that they credit any fees or charges related to the unauthorized changes. Keep track of the name and telephone number of the person that you spoke to.

The Arizona Corporation Commission is working on final rules that will give us the authority to assist you in slamming and cramming claims. Until those rules are finalized, you should file a "slamming" complaint with the Attorney General's office.

Phoenix office : 602-542-5763
Tucson office: 520-628-6504
Toll Free: 800-352-8431



What is "CRAMMING?"
"Cramming" is having services added to your telephone service without your authorization. Cramming can involved a wide range of unauthorized charges such as non-regulated services such as voice mail, personal 800 numbers, paging services, long distance plans and pay-per-use 900 number calls. Services such as these are separate and distinct from your regulated local and long distance service.

Cramming may also include regulated service features such as call waiting or caller ID, which are offered by your local phone company. Services of this type are part of your regulated local telephone service. Contact the company billing you for these unwanted services, and advise them to remove them and credit you back to the date the change was made. File a complaint against the company with the Arizona Corporation Commission.


What can I do if I am a victim of "CRAMMING?"

The Arizona Corporation Commission is working on final rules that will give us the authority to assist you in slamming and cramming claims. Until those rules are finalized, you should file a "cramming" complaint with the Attorney General's office.


Are there any programs that provide telephone financial assistance?

There are several local and statewide programs designed to help low-income individuals or people enduring a specific financial hardship. For more information, click here.


Are there any programs that provide financial assistance on deposits?

The Utility Repair Replacement and Deposit Program (URRD) provides financial assistance on utility deposits in crisis situations. Call the Arizona Department of Economic Security toll free on 1-800-582-5706 for information on eligibility requirements and information as to the closest social service agency near you that can assist you in the application process.


What is a Trouble Isolation Charge?

The phone company is responsible for maintaining a reliable connection from the central office through to the Network Interface on the side of your residence. The wiring on the inside your home is your responsibility to maintain. If a repair technician finds that the source of your phone service problem is on your side of the Network Interface Box on the side of your home, a Trouble Isolation Charge may be assessed. The Network Interface Box is usually a square or rectangular box located on the side of your home.


If I do not subscribe to an Inside Wire Maintenance Plan, is there anything I should do before I call my local telephone company about a service problem?

To avoid this charge, you must determine if the problem resides on your side or the telephone company's side of the Network Interface the next time service goes out. To do this, take a regular landline phone to the network interface and plug it into the phone jack labeled "test jack" and listen to the receiver. If you hear a dial tone, the trouble is after this point and therefore on your side of the network interface. If you do not hear a dial tone, contact your telephone company and inform them of a service outage.


What can I do about telephone interference?
Unfiltered telephone circuits may respond to particular radio frequencies and/or signals. The frequencies or signals enter the telephone instrument, wiring or attached hardware. Filtering of the telephone instrument is necessary to stop the interference.
To determine whether or not your phone is receiving radio frequencies or other outside signals, disconnect the phone from any attachments such as hearing devices, answering machines, etc. If the interference disappears, attach each piece of hardware individually and listen until you hear which piece of hardware is receiving the radio signals. Contact the manufacturer of the device for assistance in eliminating the interference.
If interference is still present with the attachments disconnected, you may install a modular filter. Modular filters are available at most telephone or electronics stores. These filters can be installed by following the instructions in the package. It is a good idea to verify if the filter can be returned for a refund if it does not eliminate the interference.
If you have installed a filter and interference is still noticed, the telephone itself needs to be adjusted. Take the telephone to repair technicians to have it internally adjusted.
Can I file a complaint against a telephone company?

Yes, click here to learn about the complaint process.


We were notified that our telephone company wants to change their rates. How can I have input on this?
You can always call the Arizona Corporation Commission and speak with a representative of our Consumer Services Section to find out more information about the water or sewer company's proposed rate increase. Your comments become part of the data that the Commissioners review prior to making their decision. Our staff can also assist you or your community with procedures for filing petitions, arranging for a public comment session or providing information on becoming an official party to the case (called "intervention").
Click here for a Public Utilities Comments Form
Click here for an Intervention Guideline Form