FCC Fights to Make Sense of Mobile BillsBy: Shawn Hess - April 20, 2012
If you’ve ever gone over on your mobile phone minutes or exceeded the number of text messages you can make you’ll love this next story. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) actual cares that surprise charges on your mobile bill are scaring the hell out of you. You know what I mean, you tear open the envelope from Verizon or whoever, and expect to see $55 or $56 and it’s more like $100. Yes, you are not the only one. People go over on minutes and texts all the time and I’m sure it has been the cause of a heart attack a time or two.
So the FCC estimates that about 30 million American’s have suffered from what they are calling “bill shock”. I am sure this is true, but as an American I can honestly say that I cease to be shocked by anything that I get billed for anymore. Seriously, for the amount of times I get billed for things I don’t owe, I would would be flat broke if I just blindly paid them all. Either way, the measures the FCC is taking are a good step in the right direction.
What they want to happen is for consumers to receive a warning message when they get close to going over on their plans minutes or data usage. You would receive a message before you go over and another reminding you that you have indeed gone over. It sounds like a good strategy to me. Why didn’t anybody think of this before?
So far T-Mobile has this feature on voice, data, and roaming, but not on texts. Verizon has it on data and roaming, and AT&T has it on data. Sprint has it only on roaming. So, as you can see, T-Mobile is the only one who offers it in a useful capacity. Hopefully other carriers are working with the FCC to put this consumer protection into action.
The four alert types included in the FCC system include voice, data, text, and international roaming. All US carriers must have at least two of the four alerts by October 17th, 2012, and add the rest by April 17th, 2013. Relief from “bill shock” is on the way courtesy of the FCC!