By John Breyault, Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications and Fraud NCL recently joined with several other major consumer and public interest groups in calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to strengthen its proposed “bill shock” rules to ensure that consumers don’t get hit with bloated wireless bills. Why do we need rules to protect consumers from “bill shock?” In a nutshell, it’s because the wireless marketplace has changed dramatically and the status quo is not sufficient to keep consumers from getting hit by high fees that they did not anticipate. Numerous studies from the FCC itself and independent groups attest to this:
- A May 2010 survey by the FCC found that 30 million American consumers have experienced “bill shock” on their wireless bills.
- A November 2009 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that more than one in three consumers (34 percent) received unexpected charges on their wireless bills.
- A September 2010 survey of Consumer Reports readers found that more than one in five respondents had received unexpectedly high wireless bills. Half of those respondents reported charges of more than $50 and one in five more than $100.
- Over-the-limit alerts when a consumer is approaching monthly limits for voice, text or data;
- Out -of-the-country alerts when a consumer’s use of their cell phone on an international roaming network (which is generally very expensive);
- Clear disclosure of usage management tools that consumers can use to review usage balances and potentially cap usage.