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FCC to vote on rule that will charge consumers to hear grievances

By Cal Jeffrey · 40 replies
Jul 11, 2018
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  1. According to the proposed rule, informal complaints from consumers to the FCC will be forwarded to the company that is the subject of the grievance. The obvious problem with this is that by the time a consumer is fed up enough to bother contacting the FCC, they have already exhausted all avenues of resolution with the company in question. Sending them back to the offending firm defeats the whole purpose of contacting the agency in the first place.

    The only remaining option would be to file a formal complaint and pay a $225 fee to have the commission consider the claim. The FCC says that the proposed rule is being considered as a way to "streamline" the procedural processes involving formal complaints. Currently, the agency is required to hear all lodged complaints — informal and formal. Just last December commissioners and staffers had to go through more than 20 million comments (some of which were fraudulent) regarding the rollback of 2015’s Net Neutrality rules. Under the proposed plan those opinions would not have gone through the FCC at all.

    Some lawmakers find the rule outrageous. Greg Walden (D) of Oregon, Mike Doyle (D) of Pennsylvania, and Frank Pallone Jr. (D) of New Jersey penned a letter to FCC chairman Ajit Pai voicing their concerns.

    “We are deeply concerned that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is poised to adopt a rule that would eliminate the agency’s traditional and important role of helping consumers in the informal complaint process,” the letter states. “Creating a rule that directs FCC staff to simply pass customers’ informal complaints on to the company and then to advise consumers that they file a $225 formal complaint if not satisfied ignores the core mission of the FCC — working in the public interest.”

    The congressmen also point out that we are in a time where consumers are “highly dissatisfied” with the performance of their communications companies and that it is the FCC’s job to be sure that they are being treated fairly.

    “We worry that the proposed change signals that the FCC no longer intends to play [the role of consumer advocate], and will instead simply tell consumers with limited means and time that they need to start an expensive and complicated formal legal process,” the letter concludes. “We urge you to reconsider this rule revision before the vote on July 12, consistent with applicable law and regulation.”

    The commission is set to vote on this and a handful of other new regulations this Thursday. Just like with the Net Neutrality vote, you can probably expect it to pass.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Bubbajim

    Bubbajim TechSpot Staff Posts: 674   +655

    This is absolutely disgraceful. Does anyone on either side of the political divide think that this is a good thing?!
    SirChocula, SantistaUSA and Reehahs like this.
  3. RaXoR

    RaXoR TS Addict Posts: 146   +106

    Ashit Pie kills the internet by killing net neutrality and now he kills any chance of justice by killing people's ability to be heard by an agency created to regulate and advocate in favor of the consumer. This man needs to be removed from his position asap.
  4. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 2,192   +1,617

    Dear Ajit,

    You work for the citizens of the United States of America. Our taxes pay your salary.

  5. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,374   +3,770

    Absolutely outragious .... we already pay through our taxes and now they want to make us pay again just to issue our complaints. Pie should be put before a firing squad ... and be made to pay for the bullets!
  6. penn919

    penn919 TS Maniac Posts: 267   +151

    I too want to hear a defense of this, but lets be honest here. This is not a guy with widespread support across both sides of the aisle. You know whose guy this is.
    ForgottenLegion and SantistaUSA like this.
  7. paynetrain007

    paynetrain007 TS Enthusiast Posts: 92   +10

    Actually why should tax payer dollars go towards hearing thousands of illegitimate claims? A formal complaint isn't a big deal if your complaint is legitimate to warrant FCC action. If your complaint is legitimate and the FCC takes action you are going to get a lot more than $250 in return.

    This actually isn't a terrible idea.
    Misagt and Cal Jeffrey like this.
  8. If he killed the internet, how are you still using it?
    mls067, Misagt and Cal Jeffrey like this.
  9. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,949   +2,266

    I have no idea where you got this information, however, it does not work this way. If the FCC rules in a complainant's favor, there is absolutely no monetary gain in it for the complainant that is a direct result of the FCC's action.

    Further, no agency in the US Government that is charged with consumer protection, for example, the FTC, sues for any complainant or for any complainant's monetary compensation from any wrongs that may have been done to a complainant. Such agencies may, however, fine the offending entity in which case the fine goes to the US Government.

    If a complainant wants monetary compensation, then the complainant must take the case to civil court. If the court suit is won, then then chances are the lawyers will be the ones getting the majority of the compensation. This is the essence of the right to petition for redress.

    This is public knowledge and easy to research.

    Since the fine goes to the US Government, it is easy to make the argument that the fee Pai is proposing should come from the fine if the agency is successful in their action on the formal complaint, and you can bet that if the agency finds no merit in the case, they will not pursue action on it.

    It is far more likely that Pai's proposed fee will affect those with a legitimate complaint who cannot afford to pay the fee to file a formal complaint. In other words, this will affect the little guy, and Pai's fee amounts, IMO, to extortion for those unable to afford to pay it.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
  10. gusticles41

    gusticles41 TS Guru Posts: 401   +464

    Wow. This agency just found a way to suck more.
  11. eafshar

    eafshar TS Enthusiast Posts: 81   +18

    What if your complaint is about some small fee recently added to your bill? $225 is a fairly large fee that would force only a fraction of complaints to be submitted. Fee's are revenue. Gov't that gives tax cuts to big Corp, finds new ways of making money off the vulnerable. That's rich.
  12. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,949   +2,266

    I hate to point this out in this thread since it is essentially off-topic, but does follow-on to your comment:

    All these tariffs being thrown around all over the world will ultimately come out of the pockets of the consumers around the world and that money will go into the hands the the governments imposing the tariffs. To me, it amounts to yet another tax on consumers.
  13. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,949   +2,266

    LOL - seemed pretty unlikely a while back that Pai could make it much worse; however, I would expect that Pai will find ways to improve on the agency's sucking in the time that he remains commissioner.
  14. OutlawCecil

    OutlawCecil TS Guru Posts: 674   +485

    If you are following these things at all, you'd know the effects JUST took affect June 11th. No cable company is going to immediately start ripping money from their customers in a hugely different way, but monopolies like Comcast and Time Warner aren't stupid. Now that they CAN rip people off, they will make gradual changes that will be less obvious so people aren't outraged and force change.

    It's the whole 'frog in boiling water' metaphor.

    Net Neutrality was put into place when cable companies started trying this. So lets not learn from history and allow it all over again. right? Let's also ignore what 83% of "the people" want. *sigh*
    SirChocula, RaXoR and gusticles41 like this.
  15. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,766   +1,160

    When you think that they can't get worse... they say "Here, hold my beer".
  16. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing - click on the rock below.. Posts: 4,058   +1,186

    How is this handled on other planets?
    ForgottenLegion and wiyosaya like this.
  17. gamerk2

    gamerk2 TS Maniac Posts: 253   +159

    1: It costs nothing to hear illegitimate claims.

    2: The $250, besides being too much for the majority of people to cough up, just gets you into court to contest the ISPs, which again, most people can't attend due to real life issues.

    This is nothing more then trying to protect ISPs; simple as that.
    wiyosaya likes this.
  18. Misagt

    Misagt TS Maniac Posts: 285   +203

    I think
    That isn't true it requires a large amount of man power to hear all these complaints . Even if you have each staff member handling 10000 claims a year which would amount to 50 claims per day. It means you need 2000 staff. Plus the building and support staff for all those people.

    I do think the $225 is a bit high I think something in the $50-80 range would still address this issue without restricting access.
  19. treetops

    treetops TS Evangelist Posts: 2,551   +544

    So when ISP charge us more to use Netflix and other streaming service due to the end of net neutrality we will now have to pay to complain about it....
    ForgottenLegion likes this.
  20. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,949   +2,266

    Here's another way of thinking about this issue:

    So instead of implementing sensible regulation that cuts down on consumer complaints - and we all know that cable providers are well-known for their exceptionally lacking customer service for instance - Pai wants to place the burden of proof on the consumer.

    And yet another way of looking at it: This sounds to me to be very similar to the pay for protection rackets run by (insert your favorite mob name here). In that case, it would be clearly illegal. What Pai is proposing doesn't sound too much different from a protection racket to me.

    Assuming the dust settles, I.e., all the court cases that have and are being filed, and the Pai NN rule remains standing, if the ISP posts exactly what they are doing on a page that is accessible on their web site, we are all F'd anyway since Pai's NN ruling specifically states that an ISP can pretty much do anything they want, assuming it is not blatantly illegal, as long as they post it on their web site.
    eafshar likes this.
  21. MonsterZero

    MonsterZero TS Evangelist Posts: 565   +322

    Well since he wants out of a job so quickly, let's just dismantle the FCC and remove his ***.
    ForgottenLegion likes this.
  22. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing - click on the rock below.. Posts: 4,058   +1,186

    You can complain to your Representative in the House for free.
  23. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,914   +3,977

    It does precipitate the question, if all these women, as individuals, can cause studio moguls, new casters, comedians, and hoards of less high profile men can have their jobs taken away, at the mere whisper of essentially unsubstantiated charges of "sexual harassment", why can't a whole country full of people sick of getting d!cked by Pai, get rid of him?

    It would seem a barrage of tweets to Trump himself would get the ball rolling.

    After all, it seems he buckled on the separation of children at the border, by popular demand.
    agb81, wiyosaya and Godel like this.
  24. Darth Shiv

    Darth Shiv TS Evangelist Posts: 1,962   +577

    I for one think this is a great idea. This will make our communications industry stronger and increase quality of service. *insert other statements that are the complete opposite of logic*</ComcastShill>
    RaXoR likes this.
  25. Oh, I get it. This works like global warming. It’s not that the internet is dead, it’s that it will be dead in 10 years if we don’t act immediately with Tough Regulations(TM).

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