More monitoring of billing practices sought after Verizon overcharge
Senate lawmakers urged the Federal Communications Commission to strengthen its oversight of billing practices by telecommunications firms, after Verizon Wireless announced that it erroneously charged $50 million in unwanted data fees.
The FCC will explore next week a “bill shock” policy that would require carriers to notify users of sudden increases in their bills.
In a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), John Kerry (Mass.) and Mark Begich (Alaska) said the agency needs to maintain “robust” oversight of billing practices in the wireless industry.
“As Verizon Wireless’ recent decision makes clear, wireless consumers are often faced with confusion over wireless charges and uncertainty about their bills,” they wrote.
Klobuchar has introduced a bill that clamps down on early-termination fees – the penalties imposed on consumers who leave cellphone, broadband and television subscription services before their contracts end. She has advocated for more transparent billing practices and rules that curb surprise fees.
The FCC released a survey earlier this year that showed 30 percent of users said they experience “bill shock,” from unexpected charges on their communications service bills. The survey showed 36 percent of respondents said their bills provided “very clear” information on early-termination fees.
| October 5, 2010; 12:15 PM ET
Categories: Consumers, Early Termination Fees, FCC, Verizon
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