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CR applauds House Subcommittee on Communications & Technology for OKing bill to end hidden telecom fees

Subcommittee approves the Television Viewer Protection Act (HR 5035) 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Consumer Reports applauded the House Energy & Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications & Technology for approving legislation today that requires cable, internet, and phone providers to include all company-imposed fees in their advertised prices.  The requirement is included as part of HR 5035, the Television Viewer Protection Act, which the full House Energy & Commerce Committee is expected to vote on next Tuesday, November 19.

“Consumers are tired of being hit with a laundry list of unexpected fees for cable, internet, and phone service that jack up the cost of their bills each month,” said Jonathan Schwantes, senior policy counsel for Consumer Reports.  “Pricing should be fair and transparent when consumers sign up for service so they’ll know exactly how much they’ll pay and can find a package they can afford.  Congress should side with consumers and end the bait and switch over telecom pricing.”

HR 5035 requires cable, internet, and phone providers to list a single advertised price inclusive of all fees, government and company-imposed alike.  Only taxes that vary by locality could be charged separately.

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.  While these fees were once seen as limited to cable TV service, the report found that they are now being applied to internet access service as well.   Adding new company-imposed fees to the cost of internet service is a disturbing new trend, and predicts a future where even internet-only consumers will not be safe from the growing burden of add-on fees.

Michael McCauley, mmccauley@consumer.org, 415-431-6747, ext. 7606