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Consumer Reports Applauds Legislation to Fight Hidden Cable Fees

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Markey and Eshoo Introduce “TRUE Fees Act” to Make Cable, Internet Pricing More Transparent

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Consumer Reports today applauded the reintroduction of  legislation that aims to ensure consumers are better protected from surprise or hidden fees in their cable and internet bills and provides protections for consumers who have been wrongfully charged.

The Truth-In-Billing, Remedies, and User Empowerment over Fees (‘TRUE Fees’) Act, introduced by Senator Ed Markey and Representative Anna Eshoo, would require service providers to advertise the total price of a service that includes all fees. The bill would also allow customers to end their contract without early termination fees if the provider increases fees during the term of the contract, prevents arbitrary price hikes on equipment fees unless there is actually an improvement made to the equipment, and prohibits forced arbitration clauses for wrongful billing errors.

“This legislation is simple, straightforward, and effective. The TRUE Fees Act would address the out-of-control fee problem in the telecommunications marketplace and deliver much-needed transparency for cable and internet providers’ unnecessarily-complicated billing practices,” said Jonathan Schwantes, senior policy counsel for Consumer Reports. “We’ve heard from more than 115,000 consumers who’ve had enough of cable and internet providers’ ever increasing bills riddled with confusing, mandatory fees buried in the fine print. We thank Senator Markey and Representative Eshoo for their leadership to address this growing fee problem and ensure consumer budgets aren’t busted by unexpected fees. We urge their colleagues in Congress to support and move this bill forward.”

Consumer Reports recently launched  “What the Fee?!”, an organization-wide effort to highlight surprising fees and charges across industries—and help consumers fight back. The cable industry is one of the most notorious for exploiting add-on fees, such as “broadcast TV fees” and “regional sports fees,” that inflate consumers’ cable bills each month, with some of these fees increasing as much as 50 percent per year, regardless of whether consumers have “locked-in” long-term contract pricing. Recently,  the Massachusetts and Minnesota attorneys general have taken action against industry-leader Comcast for promoting its long-term contracts without clearly disclosing the full monthly price and possibility of increasing monthly fees at any point during the long-term contracts.

To learn more about the What the Fee?! campaign and share your own experience with fees, visit www.WhatTheFee.com.