New FCC Rules Prevent Surprise Cell Phone Bills
Everyone had heard, but hopefully for the most part not experienced, a horror story about coming home from a vacation only to find out that they’ve managed to rack up thousands of dollars’ worth of a cell phone bill. When you’re caught roaming within a foreign land you can rack up some amazingly crazy and high fees and surcharges. These obviously cause a high level of dismay and shock upon getting the bill.
The FCC has taken some steps to prevent cell phone bill shock now. According to the FCC 1 out of 6 cell phone users has at one time or another faced a massive bill. This includes bills of over $1k for 20% of those complainants. Customers have really had to struggle to get their respective companies to get the charges reversed. There was one victim that was working disaster relief in Haiti and had found out that her international plan didn’t actually cover data and then got a cell phone bill that was over $30k. T-Mobile did forgive most of the charges, however, still made the demand of several thousand from the volunteer.
The proposed FCC rules would require that the cell phone companies notify their users when they’re building up massive cell phone bills. What would be required would be that the customer gets either a text or a voice alert when they’re exceeding a certain fee or a limit on usage.
Pretty much as you could predict, the cell phone companies are opposed to this. The claim that they’re making is that they already provide their users with the right tools in order to monitor the usage for voice and data. The obvious thing though is that the tools that they’re providing are actually fairly insufficient. When is the last time that you have checked to see the minutes or the texts that you’ve used so far for this month? Do you actually even know how to check for this? If your answer to this question is no then you’re not along as most people don’t.
A wireless trade group representative had claimed that the customers will be able to find all the answers that they require through simply reading through the instruction manual that they got with their phone. Obviously you always completely front to back memorize your instruction manual, right?
T-Mobile customers, according to the company, are able to call a special phone number in order to get a monthly usage report. Verizon states that they offer alerts via text. The tools are something that varies quite widely throughout the carriers. This is the FCC’s position and is why they want communication standardization. Personally, I don’t think that’s a bad idea at all.
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