Cellphone users should be alerted when wireless bills increase suddenly and excessively, the Federal Communication Commission said in a release late Tuesday.
Earlier this year the European Union adopted rules requiring telecommunication companies to notify customers with alerts when bills spike due to usage, in order to curb instances of “bill shock,” where customers receive unpleasant surprise in the form of unexpected high cellular bill.
“Wait a minute, you’re saying if I’m about to get screwed by a wireless company, I should have a chance to stop it before it happens?” Shocked consumers everywhere asked.
Of course, the wireless industry respond was unsurprisingly nonchalant. In a statement, CTIA – The Wireless Association remarked that consumers can already receive a lot of information on their usage by texting in phrases such as “MIN, *BAL, # MIN” or “# DATA” on their phone, along with checking their usage online.
In the European Union restriction which will be in effect by July 1st, carriers must block further data usage when a customer’s monthly bill tops €50. Mind you, that’s the default rate, and mobile customers can change this price cap to whatever rate they want. When their bill nears the 80 percent mark, an alert will be sent.
Along with their release Tuesday, the FCC has also attached a “tip sheet” on how you can avoid “mobile shock.” You can view the tip list via PDF here. (105 KB)