Anybody who has opened up their cell phone bill to read about a litany of confusing new charges, fees and restrictions can relate to the term “bill shock.” It’s not just frustrating, but also costly and potentially fraudulent—Verizon just settled a complaint with the FCC for charging 15 million of its users “mystery” fees for data use on their mobile phones, something Sprint got caught doing a few years back. While Verizon remains under investigation by the FCC, consumer advocacy groups say there’s a quick and practical fix that could help cell phone customers: simplifying maddeningly opaque bills. This week the FCC will release a proposal that would require cell carriers to notify users of overcharges and sudden increases in their bills. Consumer protection groups want the FCC to go even farther and there’s pending legislation in Congress that would require cell phone companies to notify customers when they have used 80% of their monthly limits. Will that be enough to eliminate bill shock?
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