Cellphone "Bill Shock" Gets Shocked By New FCC Task Force

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News Posted: Wed, May 12 2010 7:43 AM
Wouldn't it be nice if your wireless operator shot you a free text message or e-mail whenever you were quickly approaching your monthly minute limit or text limit? Wouldn't it be great if you received some sort of alert whenever you touched down in a foreign country and were about to incur roaming charges for making calls or using data in someone else's homeland? Some carriers already do this (AT&T sends a free text message alerting you to the international data roaming rate for iPhone users, at least), but the FCC would like for everyone to join in.

A new Consumer Task Force at the FCC has been commissioned to look long and hard at what many consumers call "bill shock" in order to remedy a problem that has been growing, as the world becomes more of a global market place and as smartphones become more socially acceptable to carry around everywhere. The plan is to create a better method for U.S. carriers to give their customers a notification "when they are running up unusually high charges for data usage, roaming or other uses beyond what is covered by regular monthly fees."

iPhone Usage Meter

Reportedly, the FCC has received "hundreds of complaints" from consumers who didn't know they were running up a huge bill, and then suddenly were hit with a mobile bill in the hundreds or thousands of dollars without warning. European carriers are already required by law to send an SMS when a customer is running up charges or close to their monthly text/data limit, and it sounds like the FCC wants America to follow suit.

No final plans have been put into place yet, but we wouldn't be surprised if this was implemented soon. It sounds like a quick and easy fix, and since some carriers are doing it already, it shouldn't be too much of a pain for everyone else. The only downside is that we probably won't get to hear about those $12000 iPhone bills any more, and how hard people have to fight to get it carved down to something reasonable when they download movies in France via tether "without any knowledge" of roaming fees.
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I can kinda understand the warning for going over your minutes/data alot ment. That could be hard to track, and the carrier should at the very least provide a means for you t\keep track of your usage. But honestly, how dumb do you have to be to not know your in a differeint country?! I mean it's not like you can take a wrong turn on the interstate and end up in France. Boarding the plan, and the 10 something hour flight over the Atlantic didn't give it away? What about everyone speaking french? Here'sa hint, if you are asked to show your passport chances are you are leaving the U.S.

This just seems like the government trying to pass law to protect poeple from their own stupidity. When do consumers take responicibility for their actions? Are they not responcible to read the contracts they sign? Their plan should clearly spell out when they incure extra charages and when. And for soemthing like international roaming where it litterly is as simple as figure out what country your in, is that covered? Then I have no spympathy for people who rack up 12k bills becuase they didn't realise they were in France.

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realneil replied on Thu, May 13 2010 8:44 PM

The point is that the stinking charges over there are astro-friggin-nomical and so high as to bankrupt you in no time. $12,000.00 to download one movie on roaming is just a little excessive isn't it Noob? Fair warning that you're in dangerous waters is what this is all about. It's a good idea.

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Rosie replied on Sun, May 23 2010 5:34 AM

How about being responsible and going prepaid? I put our whole family onto Net10 to try and avoid month-end heart attacks and we are saving a fortune! With our calls at 10c per minute and out texts 5c each and with NO other expenses at all we will save over $1000.00 this year and if we travelled overseas we would do the same thing. We each have a cell phone allowance per month and it's up to us how to spend it!!

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