FCC launches 'bill shock' website to educate wireless consumers

By on April 20, 2012, 5:00 PM

The Federal Communications Commission has launched a website designed to educate consumers regarding unexpected mobile phone charges collectively referred to as bill shock. The website keeps track of which major US carriers alert their customers as they approach thresholds that will introduce additional charges if exceeded.

The FCC and major wireless service providers inked a voluntary deal late last year known as the Consumer Code for Wireless Service. The guidelines dictate that consumers must be made aware of any pending overages in real-time for voice, data, SMS / text messages and international roaming.

Under the provisions, carriers will send two text message alerts: one when they are approaching a limit and a second when that limit has been breached. Wireless providers have until October 17, 2012 to provide at least two of the four alert types and comply with all alerts by April 17, 2013.

As of writing, T-Mobile USA is the most compliant of the 10 telecoms listed as they provide alerts for all categories. Verizon is second with alerts sent out for data and international roaming while AT&T provides data alerts and Sprint currently only offers notifications regarding international charges. AT&T and T-Mobile both receive an N/A in the text category as they offer unlimited plans. Of the six regional carriers, none have yet to comply with a single alert type.

The FCC notes that the list will be updated at least once a month as new information on compliance is provided by the CTIA.

Bill shock photo from Shutterstock.

User Comments: 5

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psycros psycros said:

What we really need is a site that shows how much North Americans pay for wireless vs the rest of the world. You talk about sticker shock..

HalfHuman said:

americans pay a lot less for gas and electronics, compared to europeans so stop complaining.

Guest said:

Don't blame America if your prices are higher, blame your government!

Guest said:

With this being a voluntary deal, I have to wonder if it won't slowly fade away again in the future. Should have just made it a FCC rule/law to start with. I reckon the only way to ensure no bill shock, is to go the prepaid route-you know when you buy your minutes how much you are spending, and some, like Tracfone, actually tell you on screen how many minutes/texts you have remaining, so you always know where you stand. Oh, and for those still not convinced, prepaid is a darn side cheaper than contract services and without the 2 year confinement!

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