FCC ‘Bill Shock’ Rules Should Go Further for Consumers

Contact Info: 

Jenn Ettinger, 202-265-1490 x 35

WASHINGTON -- Free Press, along with the Center for Media Justice, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Media Access Project, National Consumers League, National Hispanic Media Coalition and New America Foundation Open Technology Initiative, filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission Monday in the agency’s “bill shock” proceeding.

In October of last year, the Commission announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would establish guidelines to protect consumers from unexpectedly high wireless bills resulting from hidden fees and overage charges. The FCC found that “bill shock” affects millions of wireless users nationwide.

The agency’s proposed rule requires wireless carriers to notify their subscribers when they near their established data limit, and the agency sought comment on whether to require carriers to disclose overage fees. Yet the proposal falls short of including a key “circuit breaker” that would allow consumers to avoid overage fees by requiring an opt-in or opt-out mechanism after they have reached their limits. An opt-in circuit breaker would require a subscriber to request continuation of service after being notified of the fees associated with continued use. An opt-out would allow a subscriber to discontinue service once the limit was reached.

Free Press Policy Counsel M. Chris Riley made the following statement:

“The FCC’s effort on bill shock is long overdue in a wireless environment where today’s heavy user is tomorrow’s average user, and where the wireless Web is more and more important to commerce and to society. It is vital that consumers are empowered with the information and the tools needed to make decisions about their own wireless usage so they can avoid outrageous charges.

“While this is a good first step, the FCC needs to go further. The FCC should adopt a 'circuit breaker' rule that allows consumers to avoid having to pay overage fees. The decision to accept overage fees should rest squarely in the hands of informed consumers.”

To view a copy of the comments click here: http://www.freepress.net/resource/free-press-comments-empowering-consumers-avoid-bill-shock

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people + policy = Positive Change for the Public Good