The FCC voted unanimously to gather more information on proposed rules that would require wireless service providers to send usage alerts and related information to customers to help them avoid bill shock.
Chairman Julius Genachowski said there’s more than ample evidence showing there is a problem – too many Americans have experienced bill shock, but a simple technology fix can go a long way to solve the problem.
Wireless service providers already offer tools to alert consumers before they go over their monthly allotments for text or voice, but those are the exception and not the rule. Companies should compete on value, price and service – not on confusion, he said.
Republican Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker suggested that if wireless carriers voluntarily and more uniformly adopt services that inform consumers, the commission may not have to act at all.
The FCC yesterday released a white paper on the complaints the commission has received on wireless bill shock, which is defined as a sudden, unexpected increase in the monthly mobile phone bill.
The white paper showed that 764 people complained to the FCC about wireless bill shock in the first half of 2010, and 67 percent of those complained about amounts of $100 or more. Twenty percent had complaints of $1,000 or more, and the largest complaint was for $68,505.
In a statement released Wednesday, CTIA Regulatory Affairs Vice President Chris Guttman-McCabe said the industry is constantly working to keep all 292.8 million subscribers happy. “The industry continues to develop tools to keep customers informed about their level of usage of voice, text or data to ensure positive customer experiences,” he said.
CTIA is concerned that prescriptive and costly rules that limit the creative offerings and competitive nature of the industry may threaten to offset any positive trends in keeping customers happy.