National Consumers League

Continuing the drive to enact bill shock protections


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By John Breyault, Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications and Fraud Yesterday, NCL joined with eight other consumer and public interest groups to file reply comments in the FCC’s bill shock proceeding.  As we have previously mentioned, the FCC is considering new rules that would require wireless carriers to provide alert notifications to consumers when they are close to running out of voice minutes, text messages or data allotments.  Such alerts would, we argue, help consumer avoid expensive overage charges and roaming fees. Joining with NCL in our comments were the Center for Media Justice, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Free Press, Media Access Project, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, New America Foundation Open Technology Initiative, and Public Knowledge. In our reply comments, we argue that the wireless industry’s current usage control mechanism is not adequately protecting consumers from these charges.  We further argue that all consumers would benefit from a common baseline of consumer protection and that such rules would enhance competition and innovation in the wireless market.  Finally, we argue that customers of smaller rural and regional carriers and prepaid companies should also benefit from the proposed rules. The issue now goes to the FCC, which will review our comments as well as the comments of other stakeholders, including the wireless industry, state public utilities commissions and attorneys general, other consumer groups and individual consumers. NCL will continue to play an active role in this issue as we work with the FCC to implement common-sense protections that benefit consumers and address the bill shock issue.