FCC wants your feedback on deceptive cellular billing

Have you ever logged onto your cell phone’s account to discover a massive amount of charges you had no idea you were ringing up?

The average American consumer may often struggle to understand the manner in which certain services are billed, and if I’m being overly courteous to those who design the billing, deciphering when where and how you may incur such charges is… not the clearest process in the world. The FCC is calling it “bill shock,” the feeling you get when opening a cell phone bill kicks you in the nuts. And they’re initiating a public dialog about how exactly to notify consumers before a billing cycle’s worth of exorbitant charges has been incurred.

The FCC’s Consumer Task Force Chair Joel Gurin addressed the issue in a statement posted on the FCC’s website:

“We are hearing from consumers about unpleasant surprises on their bills,” said Gurin. “We’ve gotten hundreds of complaints about bill shock. But this is an avoidable problem. Avoiding bill shock is good for consumers and ultimately good business for wireless carriers as well.”

Gurin referred to similar protections afforded to wireless customers in the European Union:

“We’re issuing a public notice to see if there’s any reason that American carriers can’t use similar automatic alerts to inform consumers when they are at risk of running up a high bill.”

If you’ve got something to say about high cell phone bills or you’ve been hit with a much higher than expected cell phone bill, you can comment to the FCC for the next 45 days on the issue. It’s not exactly clear that the FCC will actually change anything regarding dubious cell phone billing practices, but hopefully this is a step in the right direction on that front.

[FCC.gov, Image]