Friday, October 8, 2010
NM Senator, FCC Looking Into Stopping 'Bill Shock'
MacWorld.com is reporting that New Mexico Senator, Tom Udall (D) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are looking at possible ways to use smartphone technology to alert consumers when they are about to reach their cellular plan's monthly cap.
According to MacWorld, "[t]he FCC began seeking public comment about bill shock in May, and the agency released a survey later in the month that found 17 percent of respondents had experienced sudden billing increases, even though they hadn’t changed their calling or texting plans."
“The texting and Internet capabilities that make today’s cell phones more useful than ever should be applied to help customers avoid bill shock,” Udall said when introducing the bill. “Sending an automatic text or e-mail notification to a person’s phone is a simple, cost-effective solution that should not place a burden on cell phone companies and will go a long way toward reducing the pain of bill shock by customers.”
Here in the United States, purchasing a smartphone is sort of a catch-22. We all like playing low prices for our new gadgets, but often those low prices are accompanied with a two year service contract, effectively locking you into the service agreement. You can exit the contract early, however, you can be subject to $300+ early termination fees (ETF). I think that I would like to see the phone companies being more proactive to let people know when they are about to reach their contracted usage limits. Too often I've heard from parents about teen texting bills and being caught off guard about how expensive the monthly bill was. (By the way, it costs less than 2-cents to process a text message, yet the average cost charged for a text message is anywhere from 15 to 25-cents, depending on your plan.)