FCC must hold industry accountable to ensure bill shock protections – National Consumers League

October 19, 2011

Washington, DC– Voluntary industry guidelines designed to protect hundreds of millions of American consumers from cell phone “bill shock” will only work if the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is committed to holding the wireless industry accountable, according to the National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s pioneering consumer organization.

The voluntary guidelines announced this week by the FCC, CTIA and Consumers Union reflect the fact that tens of millions of consumers are victims of wireless “bill shock” every year.  The combination of rapidly growing wireless data usage by consumers and the embrace of data caps by many carriers underscore the urgent need for greater consumer protections in this area. The public record is replete with horror stories of consumer bills in the thousands of dollars.  Independent data from the FCC and General Accountability Office and consumer groups indicate that millions more experience smaller “bill shocks.”

“The new ’bill shock’ guidelines will only protect consumers if the FCC holds the cell phone companies’ feet to the fire,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “We are pleased that the Commission has left its ‘bill shock’ proceeding open as a stick to ensure industry compliance.”

The new guidelines reflect many of the common-sense solutions that NCL and other consumer and public interest groups called for in comments at the FCC.  In particular, we are encouraged that the new alerts will be provided free of charge and without the need for consumes to opt–in to receive the notifications.  It remains to be seen how the new guidelines will be implemented and how consumers will be able to respond to the new notifications.

NCL’s comments on “bill shock” are available here.

NCL’s reply comments on “bill shock” are available here.


About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.