The Federal Communications Commission can hear you now.
The FCC announced today that it is launching a new initiative to help consumers avoid unexpectedly high cell phone bills, a phenomenon known as bill shock. ”We are hearing from consumers about unpleasant surprises on their bills,” Joel Gurin, the FCC’s Chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau said in a press release. “This is an avoidable problem. Avoiding bill shock is good for consumers and ultimately good business for wireless carriers as well.”
The government agency cited several complaints it had received including this one from an anonymous consumer: ““I recently updated my wireless plan in Sept 09. Since I upgraded my plan, my bills have been outrageous. I was informed … that my rollover minutes were taken away when I changed my plan. … I was never informed this would affect my rollover minutes and have thus racked up hundreds of dollars in overages at $.45 a minute.”
It shouldn’t be surprising that consumers complain about their cell phone bills. What is shocking is that it has taken the FCC this long to even consider doing something about it. Still, it’s better late than never.
The FCC notes in the press release that there are several primary causes of cell phone bill shock, including “unclear or misunderstood advertising” and “unanticipated roaming or data charges.” According to TechCrunch, “The FCC is taking a hard look at the European Union model, which requires carriers to send text messages to users when they are running up roaming or data fees. Through its Public Notice, the FCC is seeking feedback on whether US carriers could implement a similar system.”
Of course, this plan won’t do much for parents who experience bill shock from out of control teen texting.