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AG Lawsuit: GTA has been screwing its customers, illegally

Dan Tydingco is a vice president at GTA

By Johnnie Rosario

When the Guam Legislature increased the Business Privilege Tax from 4% to 5% in March of 2018, local telephone, internet, and cable television provider GTA passed the cost of this increase to its consumers as a surcharge over and above the prices it agreed to charge.

That was against the law because consumers had no or inadequate notice of that cost ahead of being charged, according to the Attorney General’s office (AGO) which filed a lawsuit on Friday alleging the company also created a false impression that the BPT is a mandatory surcharge the government imposes on customers.

“Businesses are required to pay BPT, not consumers,” said Assistant Attorney General Ben Paholke. “Customers should not have to hire an attorney to comb through the fine print of several agreements to understand why a company has advertised one price, then charged them another.”

The AGO is seeking from the court to order GTA, among other things, to disgorge all funds illegally obtained and pay restitution, costs, and attorney fees for each affected customer.

“It really is underhanded and disgusting if you really think about it,” said Sean Cruz of Mangilao. “Businesses can be so greedy and flippant with the law. They agree to charge one thing and then think they can just change the terms without notice. How dare they. Hope they are fined severely and made to pay everyone back!”

The Consumer Protection Division of the OAG is charged with investigating, enforcing, filing lawsuits and recovering funds on behalf of Guam’s consumers when companies or businesses engage in false, misleading, or deceptive business practices.

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