The D.C. Court of Appeals has refused to postpone a $4.52 refund to every Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. customer, but said this week that it eventually will consider the telephone company's appeal to rescind the refund.
Residential and business customers will be receiving the one-time refund of $4.52 for each phone line between the end of this month and mid-February, said Web Chamberlin, a C&P spokesman. Commercial and government customers who subscribe to Centrex service, which essentially gives customers an in-house phone network, will receive a refund of 72 cents a line.
The refund stems from a little-noticed part of last month's $31.5 million rate increase awarded to C&P by the Public Service Commission. That ruling ordered C&P to pass on to customers $2.1 million that C&P had received from American Telephone & Telegraph Co.
The AT&T refunds, made to all regional Bell companies, originally had been ordered by the Federal Communications Commission after it determined that AT&T had overcharged those companies for research services.
C&P asked the court two weeks ago to overturn the PSC's order for the refund, or to at least postpone it pending an appeal. The court turned down the delay on Monday.
"We are disappointed they denied a stay of the refund," Chamberlin said. The phone company had argued that, if the court eventually rules C&P can keep the refund, it would be hard to get the money back once it is distributed.
The company also had said the refund would hurt the company financially and make it tougher for it to earn its authorized rate of return of 12.25 percent. In 1984, the company's approved rate of return -- or the amount the PSC said the company can earn on its investment -- was 9.31 percent.
Howard Davenport, PSC general counsel, said, "The PSC was pleased with the court's denial of C&P's request for a stay. The PSC believes its decision was legally correct."
Chamberlin said C&P will provide evidence to the court on why the refund should not be made.