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FCC Launches New Consumer Tool to Curb Bill Shock

Friday, April 20, 2012

FCC Launches New Consumer Tool to Curb Bill Shock
WASHINGTON, DC – Consumers now have a new place to turn when trying to avoid cell phone “bill shock” — the unexpectedly large fees that pop up on your wireless bill, often due to exceeding usage limits. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has launched a new website to help track developments as wireless carriers implement new consumer alerts to warn customers before they exceed their limits.

“This is an important step in fighting the shock and anxiety that consumers feel after receiving an unexpectedly large bill,” said Parul P. Desai, policy counsel for Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports. “Bill shock is avoidable with timely, free alerts. And now, with the FCC’s new website, consumers can know with certainty which alerts their wireless carrier is providing.”

In October, Consumers Union joined the FCC and CTIA to announce a new industry initiative to provide free alerts to help customers avoid bill shock. These alerts would be sent to consumers before they reach their limits on voice, text or data services, as well as free alerts to customers when they are about to incur international roaming charges.

The FCC’s newly launched website features a table of participating carriers and outlines the steps they have taken in providing these free alerts. The website will be updated regularly as CTIA provides new information.
By October 17, 2012 participating carriers have committed to providing customers with at least two out of the four notifications for data, voice, text and international roaming, and all of the alerts by April 17, 2013.

Desai said, “With current alert policies varying widely across the industry, we applaud the FCC and CTIA’s efforts to make it clear to consumers what tools they have available to them now. We urge wireless companies to implement these new alerts sooner rather than later.”

For more information, visit http://fcc.us/billshocks.

Contact: David Butler, dbutler@consumer.org, or Kara Kelber, kkelber@consumer.org, 202-462-6262