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FCC looks to tackle mobile phone 'bill shock'

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 09 Oct 2010 23:03 User comments (4)

FCC looks to tackle mobile phone 'bill shock' The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States is looking for ways to tackle "bill shock" for mobile phone customers. The trade association representing carriers insists that customers are already well informed about their calling and data plans. However, the FCC conducted a survey in which it found 17 percent of respondents experienced sudden bill increases even though they hadn't changed their plans.
CTIA, the trade group that represents mobile carriers, questions the survey and insists that there are no need to any new regulations. The FCC could, for example, force carriers to alert users via SMS or some other way when they are approaching their monthly call minutes limit or data limits. CTIA insists that carriers already carry out such measures to warn customers, and there is no need to mandate any more.

"Wireless carriers and app developers are constantly providing additional methods for alerting customers regarding their usage to avoid unexpected charges," CTIA said in a September document describing discussions with the FCC. "The FCC should not prescribe -- and ultimately limit -- carriers' ability to provide effective consumer account management tools."

U.S. Senator Tom Udall, a New Mexico Democrat, introduced the Cell Phone Bill Shock Act on September 30, which would require mobile carriers to notify customers when they have used 80 percent of their monthly minutes and to obtain customer consent before charging for services not covered by their regular monthly plan.

"The texting and Internet capabilities that make today's cell phones more useful than ever should be applied to help customers avoid bill shock," Udall said when introducing the bill.

"Sending an automatic text or e-mail notification to a person's phone is a simple, cost-effective solution that should not place a burden on cell phone companies and will go a long way toward reducing the pain of bill shock by customers."

Consumers Union, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, and Public Knowledge have endorsed Udall's legislation.

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4 user comments

19.10.2010 23:30

Now this sounds great. Make sure to have it inform the person who PAYS for the bills, so for the teenagers who don't ever stop talking, their parents are informed so they can take corrective action.

210.10.2010 11:24

Why can't consumers use the tools they already have to monitor the usage themselves? Parents can track the usage and set minutes and text limits with their carrier(at least Verizon does). The FCC does need to be involved. There are many tools to track usage.

310.10.2010 14:51

While I am at it I can track my usage with my home internet plan, my 3 kids phone plans, and even my electric usage. problem is who has time to go to all though sites on a regular basis just to make sure you are not going over. I would just like a automatic warning when you get close.

Rely though I would rather just have unlimited plans.

410.10.2010 16:57

The internet has made many people lazy and to say who has the time to go through all the sites on a regular basis is just nonsense.@ lamain no disrespect but if someone cannot make time to at least check 2x a week just to make sure they are not going over on minutes or data, then they do not deserve a cellphone.

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