FairPoint Communications must pay a $10,000 penalty and $5,000 in refunds to overcharged customers following a settlement reached between the phone company and the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission.

The agency approved the agreement without conditions, according to a release from the commission Tuesday.

Commission staff found Ellensburg Telephone Company, which does business as FairPoint Communications, 301 times charged customers rates not approved by the commission, in violation of state law.

The company also failed to provide notice to customers before changing rates twice.

Commission staff filed a complaint against FairPoint in March seeking penalties and refunds. In May, the staff filed an all-party settlement agreement.

The agreement also ordered FairPoint to charge customers only commission-approved rates for additional services and provide appropriate notice to customers about rate changes. FairPoint will return $5,368 to customers who were overcharged between July 1, 2007, and July 1, 2014.

FairPoint Communications is headquartered in Charlotte, N.C. The company serves 14,000 telephone lines in Ellensburg, Kittitas, Lauderdale, Selah, Thorp and Vantage.

The commission is the state agency charged with regulating the rates and services of telephone companies operating in Washington.

FairPoint did not respond to a request for comment before the Daily Record’s Wednesday press deadline.

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