Consumer Groups: Tell the Truth on Cell Phone, Internet Bills
What angers a cell phone or home Internet user more than just about anything else? Being lied to.
But that's just how many consumers feel about the billing practices of their cell phone and home Internet service providers, according to consumer and public interest groups in comments filed Wednesday to the Federal Communications Commission. Among other things, the groups have called for the agency to create a format across industries for service providers to clearly explain pricing schemes.They say the disclosures should prohibit wireless, cable television and Internet service providers from advertising base rates that don't include surcharges and fees that ultimately show up in the bill.
The comments were part of an FCC review of truth-in-billing practices. The problem of inaccurate advertising was highlighted during a recent report on the FCC's national broadband planning process, in which agency officials said more than half of the time, consumers were getting slower speeds than they paid for.
Joel Kelsey, a policy analyst at Consumers Union, a non-profit group associated with Consumer Reports magazine, said the biling frustrations for telecom customers begin at the point of sale and mushroom when the first bill arrives. Customers are offered a dizzying array of plans that are confusing for users. They may be sold a $99 plan for Internet, cable television and phone service but when the bill comes it may be around $115 after fees and surcharges are attached.
Kelsey complains that those fees and charges appear to be a company's way of recovering business expenses, such as number portability costs. These costs shouldn't be passed down to consumers, he says, but the practice is currently permitted by the FCC.
"It's very difficult for a consumer to make a wise decision in the marketplace because advertising is extremely misleading and there is so much noise with all the bundling packages and confusing options," Kelsey said.
October 15, 2009; 9:30 AM ET
Save & Share: Previous: Meet Telecoms Sans Frontieres, Using Tech for Disaster Relief
Next: Worth Reading: Report Says Net Neutrality Key to Broadband Success
Posted by: Max231 | October 15, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: squirma | October 15, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: LYang39204 | October 15, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: VirginiaGal2 | October 16, 2009 7:56 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: dontsendnofarkingspam | October 16, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: boboran | October 16, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.