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Bill Shock System Being Considered by the FCC

Posted on May 11th, by Evan Selleck in archive. No Comments

You walk into one of the many wireless carriers retail stores out there, and you find a phone you really want. You may drop a few bucks right then and there, whether or not you get the free phone, and then you walk out. New phone, probably a new phone number, and a new, two-year contract lingering over your head. After you get over the fact your first bill is ridiculously high (you’ve got to love those activation charges), you get set on a particular monthly price. But then, a few months down the road, you get a bill that’s higher than you expected. And, suffice it to say, you’re shocked. No worries: the FCC wants to help you.

The “Bill Shock” initiative is designed to make wireless carriers here in the States emulate those in Europe. Basically, if your bill goes over a certain, set limit, then the carrier would send you a message, or alert, telling you that your bill is getting higher than you might like. This would hopefully get you to stop doing whatever it is you’re doing to acquire the higher chargers, or perhaps set your plan accordingly to your usage. The carriers in Europe are required to do this, so Joel Gurin, the Chief of the Federal Communication Commission’s Consumer and Government Affairs Bureau, believes that carriers here should have to do the same thing.

This reaction is coming from hundreds of wireless subscribers out there complaining to all the right people that their “surprise bills” are getting ridiculous. We love the idea of a warning system to let people know if their bills are getting too high for their own good, but we’re wondering if the amount could be set by the consumer, and not by the wireless carrier. If you’re supposed to be paying $150 a month, it would make sense to set the warning system at $151, so you aren’t already a hundred dollars in the hole, even before the system kicks in.

[via The New York Times]