FCC launches US inquiry to tackle mobile "bill shock"

The Federal Communications Commission is set to tackle unexpected mobile phone charges as it launches a new inquiry today.

The FCC has set up a new Consumer Task Force, which wants to know why the US is not following the EU model of texting warnings to consumers who are running up extra data usage and roaming charges.

The FCC labels the unexpected charges as “bill shock” and Consumer Task Force leader Joel Gurin revealed that his squad is hearing from many consumers about unpleasant surprises on their bills. “We’ve gotten hundreds of complaints about bill shock, but this is an avoidable problem,” he said.

The new inquiry will address how easy or difficult it is for consumers to monitor their own data usage and know when they are nearing or exceeding pre-assigned limitations according to their contracts. It is also wondered if a text or voice should be used to alert people, particularly since accessibility to those with disabilities will be essential.

It’s not really understood why the FCC needs a full inquiry for this, as it has been a successful operation in the EU for quite some time. Indeed, EU laws require mobile network providers to provide the relevant alerts to make sure that consumers are well aware of what they are getting themselves into. Afterall, it’s not a nice surprise to find you’ve run up a substantial bill on top of your monthly contract.

The public can give their opinions and comments on the proposals within one and a half months of the notice being published on the Federal Register. A vote will then be taken on how to proceed.