U.S. Senator Tom Udall is trying to help customers avoid a huge bill – as well as pander to some voters during election season – by introducing legislation which would require carriers to notify users when they are near their monthly allotment of minutes, text or data. That’s right folks, he wants to reduce cell phone “bill shock.”
Similar to some provisions in the European Union, the Cell Phone Bill Shock Act of 2010 would require carriers to reach out to customers via text or e-mail when the users has reached 80% of their monthly allotment of voice, text or data usage. It would also require mobile operators to get a user’s consent before switching on new services like global data roaming, for example.
“Many Americans have been hit hard by ‘bill shock’ and I am pleased to introduce legislation that provides additional consumer protections,” said Udall, a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, in a prepared statement. “The texting and Internet capabilities that make today’s cell phones more useful than ever should be applied to help customers avoid bill shock. Sending an automatic text or email notification to a person’s phone is a simple, cost-effective solution that should not place a burden on cell phone companies and will go a long way toward reducing the pain of bill shock by customers.”
The move comes as a recent study by the Federal Communications Commission found that 1 in 6 users had cell phone bill shock. About 24% of those cell phone bill shock cases were an increase of more than $100.
It sounds like a really good idea – who likes bill shock? – but one always has to wonder if this is the sort of thing that’s necessary by the government. If the carriers provide enough tools for responsible adults to accurately and easily monitor their accounts (and many do), then this could just be a waste of the government’s time. If you have the tools to monitor your usage and you still get bill shock, that’s your problem.
Of course, one could also argue that the carriers won’t do this unless it is forced to or scared into it by potential legislation.
Sound off in the comments, friends.
[Via Tom Udall