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

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.