The FCC wants to kill off hidden phone fees

By on June 21, 2011, 1:00 PM

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.




User Comments: 9

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KG363 KG363 said:

I have never received such fees. Emil, if you get random fees either you are doing something wrong or you need to find a new phone company

techfiend4 said:

i have seen lots of random fees posted on my bill over the last couple years. not an error on my part either. in this last year one i can remember i was charged for the app Where and att navigator. i own a modded samsung captivate that had all crapware removed and i use google maps for everything, yet i was charged for using these apps.

Mr772 said:

kg363 said:

I have never received such fees. Emil, if you get random fees either you are doing something wrong or you need to find a new phone company

"Your exactly the type of customer we love, enjoy your service. Thanks for the regulatory capture fees you paid for us over the past 20 years, we owe you one!"

~Ma' Bell

Guest said:

Some of these fees sound like something from Office Space.

I used to work at a large international company and we had a service come in (no out of pocket cost for us) that would review are telecomm bills and find and fix the billing errors. They would take a percentage of whatever savings we got. We actually ended up saving money (getting credited for the errors) and the service made out as well. We would have never reviewed these bills as there were far too many small bills from all our sites that accounting just paid.

war59312 said:

TWC put over $90 in hidden fees on my last month bill.

I called and they said it was no mistake but because they had to repair damaged lines. My cable (Internet, Phone, & TV) was out. They came out and repaired it. No mentions of a single fee by anyone!

Thankfully I'm not really paying for it. Well I am but..

So they charge me the $90 last month and I paid it and then next month I get a $90 credit. So not really paying for it.

WTF! Then why even charge me at all? But yeah most people probably never would have even noticed it.

Guest said:

Hmm only small phone companies were targetted, maybe this is the doing of large phone companies with politicians in there pockets?

BrianUMR said:

Guest said:

Hmm only small phone companies were targetted, maybe this is the doing of large phone companies with politicians in there pockets?

A few of the large companies have been hit by this before. Cox had someone like this with a line repair fee.

Problem is if someone is making $30 an hour and they have to spend half an hour on the phone to remove a $5 fee every month is it worth there time?

Scshadow said:

"It's not yet clear what the FCC will outline as an option, but the rules will focus on "transparency and disclosure" for consumers."

Do what makes ****ing sense. Any fees charged are built into the price of the service. We don't give a damn what fees have to be paid, we just want to know what the service will actually cost us.

pjamme said:

AT&T charged me for an APP that I had never heard of on my BB. Accounts Payable called and AT&T said I probably accidentally downloaded something. I only use it for Email and telephone. never browse and text. Wrong AT&T!

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