Senators call for greater oversight over wireless billing practicesU.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), John Kerry (D-MA), and Mark Begich (D-AK) sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski this week calling for greater oversight of billing practices in the wireless industry.
U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), John Kerry (D-MA), and Mark Begich (D-AK) sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski this week calling for greater oversight of billing practices in the wireless industry.
The letter follows Verizon Wireless’ recent announcement that it will reimburse 15 million of its customers for charges incurred when they inadvertently accessed the Internet.
“As Verizon Wireless’ recent decision makes clear, wireless consumers are often faced with confusion over wireless charges and uncertainty about their bills,” the senators wrote in the letter.
In a statement issued on October 3, Verizon notified about 15 million customers that it would apply credits to customer accounts due to mistaken data charges. Over the past several years, these customers were billed for data sessions on their phones that they did not initiate.
This incident exposes the confusion consumers often experience with wireless billing practices. A recent survey conducted by the FCC showed that only 36 percent of cell phone customers who are familiar with their bills said that they include “very clear” information on Early Termination Fees (ETFs). Additionally, 43 percent of wireless customers feel compelled to stay with their current carrier because of ETFs, and 1 in 6 customers suffer from “Bill Shock.”
In December 2009, Klobuchar, joined by Begich, introduced the Cell Phone Early Termination Fee, Transparency, and Fairness Act in response to consumer concerns over high ETFs. The bill would require wireless providers to pro-rate ETFs and clearly notify customers about the fee, not only at the time of purchase, but for the duration of their contracts.