Legal Technology News
October 17, 2012
Major Progress Achieved in Usage-Based Alert Program to Protect Mobile Consumers from “Bill Shock”
Chairman Julius Genachowski of the Federal Communications Communications (FCC) announced today that participating U.S. wireless companies have met or beat the deadline to provide wireless customers with free, automatic usage-based alerts when they approach or exceed plan limits for data, voice and text – as well as alerts for international charges.
Hundreds of millions of wireless customers can now receive automatic usage alerts when consumption of data, voice, text & international charges approaches or exceeds plan limits; more than 97% of wireless customers across the country are on track to be protected from bill shock by April 2013, according to the FCC.
Chairman Genachowski has made eliminating bill shock a central part of the Commission’s Consumer Empowerment Agenda. Bill shock occurs when wireless customers experience a sudden, unexpected increase in their monthly bill as a result of unknowingly exceeding plan limits for data, voice, or texts, or incur significant international charges.
Chairman Genachowski said, “When we launched this initiative last year, we made a commitment that the FCC would remain vigilant to ensure this agreement was effective for consumers. We have, and it is. Today, by harnessing technology to empower consumers, almost all Americans can receive alerts to help avoid unexpected charges, giving them the information they need to manage monthly wireless bills. I’m pleased to report that we’re on track to full industry compliance by April. I want to thank the wireless industry and Consumers Union for their continued partnership in this important effort.”
In 2010, the FCC identified bill shock as a growing consumer problem that needed a solution. According to a 2011 survey by Consumers Union, roughly one in five Americans with mobile phone plans received unexpected charges on their bills during the previous year. In total, that amounts to tens of millions of people nationwide.
A voluntary agreement by CTIA, which includes as its members the overwhelming majority of wireless carriers in the nation, offered a series of commitments that would help eliminate the problem of bill shock by April 2013. That includes a commitment that CTIA members provide at least 2 out of the 4 types of alerts (data, voice, text, international roaming) by today, October 17th. Chairman Genachowski announced today that U.S wireless companies have met or exceeded this goal and are on track to provide all alerts by April 2013.
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