Mobile Phone Operator Lobbyists Say No Laws Necessary To Prevent 'Bill Shock'

from the because-it-doesn't-happen? dept

For nearly a decade we've been covering stories of people getting bill shock when mobile phone bills show up that are in the tens of thousands of dollars. The issue, of course, is that mobile operators do a dreadful job informing their customers of the fees they may be facing. And, while it would be quite easy for the providers to set up some kind of alert (or credit card-style temporary block) if a bill starts to go outside of the "norm," none of the mobile operators seem interested in doing this.

Over in the UK they've put in place laws to prevent such ridiculous bill shock situations, and regulators in the US are considering the same... but the lobbyists for the mobile operators, CTIA, are protesting that such rules are "unnecessary." That would be a lot more convincing if people didn't send in stories about ridiculous bills every few weeks. CTIA also claims that "Members have adopted internal practices and procedures to remediate billing concerns directly with their customers," but in practice those "remediation" practices seem to basically be "wait until the press starts paying attention, and then finally back down."
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Filed Under: bill shock, regulations
Companies: ctia


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  1. identicon
    Anonymously Brave, 9 Jul 2010 @ 7:28am

    Re: Responsibility

    When I was a teen, I went to a small carnival that briefly came into town. There was a dart game that caught my attention, so I went to check it out. There were lots of large prizes displayed. According to the sign, it cost $5 to play. I figured, what the heck...its only $5.

    So, I plopped down a fin and the guy handed me a dart. I threw it an popped a ballon. Then...he handed me another dart. I threw it, too. He kept handing me darts, one at a time.

    Finally, he said I had popped enough balloons to win the prize! Of course, he said I owed him $50 for it! $5 for each additional dart!

    I told him he didn't disclose that he was charging $5 per dart before I started the game. He told me...you didn't ask. Gotcha!


    This is the game played by the cell phone companies and it is far too much to ask for consumers to learn the ins and outs of all of the contracts we enter into in order to find and understand all of the hidden "gotchas!". Saying we all have a responsibility to be experts on these services is simply making excuses for the industry and their shady skills at hiding important information within pages and pages of useless stuff.

    Honestly, do you know every part of your contract for cable service? What about power? Water? Land line phone? Internet? Your mortgage/rent?

    Without some sort of safeguards, a cell phone company could offer "Unlimited calling", but state in the small print that they will charge you $100 every time you press the "Send" button.

    Any time a company provides a service for which they will bill after the fact for special options, there needs to be a clear communication of what is involved. At the very least, the first time a feature or service is used, a message should indicate that "this will cost $X per Y amount of use...is that okay?"

    The world shouldn't be run like a cheap carnival.

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