Punters want to be shocked by their mobile phone bills

The US wireless industry has a novel answer to the millions of cases of bill shock.

The Wireless Association told the Federal Communications Commission this week that punters really want to get bill shock.

Punters apparently have multiple opportunities in a year to change their plans, yet choose not to act. Those who consistently go over their limits and get hit by large bills often make ‘a conscious choice.’

In other words it was not a bill shock as they knew they were going to get hit by a big bill.

This is a bit of a change from last year when AT&T said that bill shock only happened in a “very very very low percentage of cases”

According to Ars Technica,  that was challenged by the watchdog Consumer Reports which suggests that shocking cell phone bills happened frequently. The January 2011 issue of the magazine contains a story based on Consumer Reports’ own research which shows that “one in five survey respondents reported receiving an unexpectedly high bill in the previous year, often for exceeding the plan’s voice, text, or data limits, an experience called ‘bill shock.’ Half of them were hit for at least $50, and one in five for more than $100.”

The FCC backed Consumer Reports and decided bill shock was common. All it would take was a few basic alerting requirements to fix. In other words,  you start to get near the point where you are going to get hammered for extra charges and the telcos send you an SMS.

But CTIA claims that even sending out SMS alerts would impose huge burdens on its members. It claims it will cost them “hundreds” of millions of dollars and some of the older billing systems can’t handle it. So it is either their bill shock, or yours.