F.C.C. Considering Initiative to Combat Outrageous Cellphone Bills

Joel Gurin, the head of the FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, is working on an innitiative to prevent outrageous cell phone bills from mounting on the average cell phone consumer. Designed to eliminate “bill shock”, the system would notify mobile subscribers via an unspecified method if their current cellphone usage is likely to result in a bill that is significantly higher than their monthly plan.

F.C.C. Considering Initiative to Combat Outrageous Cellphone Bills

A similar practice has been in place in the European Union since 2009. “We’re issuing a Public Notice to see if there’s any reason that American carriers can’t use similar automatic alerts to inform consumers when they are at risk of running up a high bill. This is an avoidable problem. Avoiding bill shock is good for consumers and ultimately good business for wireless carriers as well”, says Gurin.

The commission has received hundreds of complaints from consumers about receiving bills with outrageous charges, Mr. Gurin said in a statement, adding that the charges are often caused by those not truly understanding their contract terms.  Wireless carriers in Europe are required by law to send text messages to consumers when they are running up roaming charges or getting close to a set limit for data usage, Mr. Gurin said.

Details on the “Bill Shock” initiative and instructions on how to file a public comment can be found at www.fcc.gov.

Published on May 13, 2010