Consumer Reports calls on House to require fair and clear pricing for pay-TV service

House vote today on bill requiring cable and satellite providers to disclose total cost before consumers sign up for service 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Consumer Reports urged the House of Representatives today to require cable and satellite television operators to disclose the total price, including all company-imposed fees, before a consumer signs up for a video package.  The House is supposed to consider the issue later today when it votes on H.R. 5035, the Television Viewer Protection Act.

“Consumers are sick and tired of the laundry list of sneaky fees that make their bills more costly than expected,” said Jonathan Schwantes, senior policy counsel for Consumer Reports.  “Cable companies lure customers in with a low advertised price but then bury hundreds of dollars in extra fees each year in the fine print.  This legislation will help bring fairness and clarity to pay-TV pricing by helping consumers spot and avoid hidden fees.”

HR 5035 requires pay-TV operators to disclose the total price, including all itemized charges, fees, and estimated taxes, before a consumer signs up for a video package, whether offered individually or as part of a bundled service.  Under the bill, consumers will have the right to cancel service without penalty within 24 hours after receiving notice of the total cost at the point of sale.  Pay-TV providers would be prohibited from charging consumers for equipment they do not use.

In October, Consumer Reports published an extensive report that documented that consumers pay, on average, $450 a year in extra company-imposed fees charged by cable and internet service providers.  Consumer Reports found that consumers are being charged equipment fees for routers and modems even if they choose to use their own devices.  In addition, some providers are starting to charge similar fees for internet access.