The Federal Communications Commission said one in six U.S. cell phone customers have been hit with unexpected fees on their monthly bills. Yes, friends, this is the dreaded “bill shock” we’ve all heard so much about.
The governmental agency conducted a survey which found that nearly 30 million Americans have been hit with a sudden increase in their monthly bills that doesn’t correlate with a change in service plan. Of those hit with bill shock, 84% said their carrier didn’t contact them when they were about to hit their limit for voice, data or text messages, and 88% said the mobile operator didn’t contact them after the sudden increase. Additionally, the survey found there is mass confusion about early-termination fees, as nearly half didn’t know how much they would have to pay to exit a service contract.
“The wireless industry has achieved remarkable innovation – an mobile is increasingly essential to the daily lives of Americans,” said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, in a prepared statement. “But there is still more that can be done to help customers navigate what is sometimes a confusing marketplace. A simple and easy to understand mobile purchase and billing process will empower consumers to avoid bill shock and other unexpected fees.”
The FCC is trying to address these issues and it may implement a system that exists in the European Union: carriers have to send you a free text when you’re nearing your allotment of voice, data, or text, and the consumer will be able to set a fixed amount that they cannot exceed. The governmental agency is also making moves to make additional fees more transparent, which is part of a larger effort to make the wireless industry more consumer friendly.
The carriers aren’t exactly loving these ideas and some people would argue that government doesn’t need to butt its nose in because responsible adults should be able to manage and honor their service contracts. I’d tend to agree with the latter sentiment but only if there are proper measurement tools in place and if the billing and consequences of going over your allotment is clearly labeled.
How say you, IntoMobile readers?
[Via FCC (Word document)]