Monday, October 18, 2010

The Anti-Bill Shock Rules

There have been recent talks of the FCC's efforts to lessen the occurrences of bill shock. But what is "bill shock" anyway and why should consumers be concerned over it.

Well, here's a good illustration of bill shock from Cnet:
When Kerfye Pierre returned home to Maryland from a visit to Haiti in February after the devastating earthquake, she received yet another shock: a $30,000 phone bill from T-Mobile USA.

Pierre, who had gone to Haiti to visit her sister who was having a baby, was there when the earthquake struck in January. Before her trip, she had suspended her phone service to avoid expensive charges. But after the disaster struck, she was told by a T-Mobile representative that she could use a courtesy plan that allowed her to communicate with people back home.

What she didn't realize was that the plan only included voice minutes. But because the voice network was so unreliable after the quake, Kerfye used texts, e-mails, and Facebook posts from her phone to update loved ones.

Eventually, Pierre was able to get a $25,000 credit to her account, but she still owes T-Mobile $5,000.
Have you ever experienced this? Well, I sure hope not. Fortunately, the FCC has started making a way to counter bill shock. The agency has proposed new regulation that would require wireless operators to alert customers with a text or voice message when they are about to exceed a bundle of voice, text, or data.

The FCC also suggested that wireless operators notify customers when they are about to incur international or other roaming charges that are not covered by their monthly plans, and if they will be charged at higher than normal rates.

The agency proposed that all wireless carriers offer easy to find and use tools that help customers monitor usage and review usage balances.

Hopefully, these efforts will not go to waste and consumers will be able to avoid any incidences of bill shock.

That's it for this post. See you next week for more wireless contract news and related topics.

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