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Bill Shock: Starting to Set the Rules

October 14th, 2010 by Joel Gurin - Chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau

At today’s FCC open meeting, the Chairman and the four other commissioners unanimously voted to propose rules to prevent Bill Shock. These proposed rules would require mobile carriers to send their customers a voice or text message when they are approaching their limit for a text, voice, or data plan, and when they are starting to incur roaming fees. The Commission notes that there are already similar rules in the European Union, where these alerts appear to be helping consumers without putting an undue burden on wireless companies. You can read the proposed rules and the commissioners’ and Chairman’s statements here.

We in the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, which prepared these proposed rules, are happy to have the full support of the Commission as we go forward. What happens next is a period of comment to allow all interested parties – including the industry, consumer groups, and the public at large – to weigh in on our proposals. That’s where you come in. You can go to our Consumer Help Center, at fcc.gov/consumers, and use the “File a Comment With the FCC” button to make your views known. If Bill Shock has happened to you, you can “File a Consumer Complaint” from the same website. You can also share your stories with us posting a comment to this blog, or sending me an e-mail at joel.gurin@fcc.gov.

In voting to propose these rules, the commissioners stressed the importance of a full record in determining the best way to prevent bill shock. The record on Bill Shock is growing all the time. Just yesterday, we learned about a new Consumer Reports online survey that found one-fifth of the respondents had experienced unexpected charges on their wireless bills. We need to hear from experts and the public alike to understand this problem and make sure consumers have the best tools to solve it. Please let us know about your views and your experiences. We look forward to hearing from you.

4 Responses to “Bill Shock: Starting to Set the Rules”

  1. twenty something says:

    A rule change to enforce the English definition of the word UNLIMITED would be helpful. There is no variation of degree: service is either unlimited or not-unlimited. *ANY* carrier restrictions- or limitations on quantity by definition abrogates an "unlimited data" plan.

    Verizon is guilty of unlimited-fraud.

    > make people be responsible for themselves

    Our way or the highway fifteen page contacts are a bit obscene though wouldn't you agree?

    I _do_ read- and understand everything prior to signing anything. Sadly most people cannot be bothered to read a contract. To those: forsooth!

    However there needs to be a way of penalizing unreasonable behavior by the provider -- and Effecting a change in subsequent provider behavior.


    $0.10 for one text message outside a text message plan??

    Why exactly are SMS messages still defined in outdated "pages"?? 140 characters for a dime? That's outrageous especially with respect to how much data is exchanged between the handset and a tower when moving from tower to tower. :roll_eyes:

    And that ignores how SMS messages are internally handled... making $0.10 infuriatingly outrageous orders of magnitude excessive cost!

  2. twenty something says:

    monthly text messaging plans are STILL orders of magnitude in excessive cost!!

  3. Guest says:

    i have verizon and they do more than enough to provide me with my usage of data, texts, and minutes. you can send a request from your phone and receive a text telling you what you have used. you can also sign up on their website and once you enter your account, it clearly tells you what you have used and what is left. i had att and they do the same exact thing. there is no issue with this. make people be responsible for themselves and quit listening to their crying "i didn't know". i don't want to pay more on my bill for this needless action, and they will pass the cost onto the customer, make no mistake about it...


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