The Federal Communications Commissionâs newest initiative doesnât involve making phone calls clearer; itâs about making phone bills themselves easier to understand.
FCC voted Thursday to move forward on its proposal to limit âbill shock,â a term for surprising, often hidden, or unknown charges customers discover on their monthly phone bills, The Washington Post reports.
The phenomenon is apparently widespread. PC magazine reports an FCC-commissioned study found that nearly 30 million cellphone users had experienced bill shock.
But wireless industry groups, who have not greeted FCCâs plans with âopen arms,â disputed that study, according to PC.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski told Politico one of the key solutions is providing customers more information about often-arcane billing practices.
Ways to increase customer awareness include: alerting customers when monthly limits of data use, calls or texts are nearing; being more upfront about international roaming charges; and making it easier for customers to check their monthly use amounts.
âItâs hard for me to see how anyone can oppose giving consumers what they need in a timely way,â Genachowski told Politico.
But Republican FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker said new FCC regulations might be unfair to smaller wireless companies.
âUpgrades to billing services may be expensive and burdensome for smaller carriers and prepaid providers,â she said, according to The Post.
FCCâs plans come as cellphone-billing practices have recently come under scrutiny. Verizon Wireless admitted earlier this month it had overcharged some 15 million customers for data use.