The FCC wants to kill off hidden phone fees

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) wants to prevent the telecom industry from charging its customers with unauthorized or hidden fees on their monthly bills (also known as cramming). FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said the agency would consider a proposal to "explore new ways to empower consumers and protect Americans against cramming and mystery fees," according to The Wall Street Journal.

It's not yet clear what the FCC will outline as an option, but the rules will focus on "transparency and disclosure" for consumers. Last week, the agency fined four small phone companies $11.7 million for adding unauthorized long-distance-related fees to subscribers' phone bills.

It has long been a theory of mine that wireless and cable providers frequently add random extra fees to all their customers' bills. These fees are completely unwarranted, but of course the companies think of some lame reason for them, just so they can have a little ground to stand on. A small portion of affected customers call in to complain, and some of these get their money back (after wasting a lot of their own time, of course). The larger majority, however, can't be bothered to do so, and so the companies in question profit immensely.

Of course, I have no evidence of such practice, and it is possible that all these extra fees are actually being tacked on thanks to some computer and/or human error. Still, I don't see these companies making an effort to prevent these occurrences from happening again, so I'm happy to learn that the government is looking to step in, even if this should have been done ages ago.

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