NHMC Statement on Wireless Industry Bill Shock Guidelines

 NHMC Hoped that Enforceable Rules Would Be Created Rather than Voluntary Guidelines

PASADENA-(NHMC - Oct. 18, 2011)-On Monday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski announced that the four major wireless industry companies, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile, have agreed to implement a series of voluntary guidelines to combat Bill Shock. Bill Shock refers to the common occurrence of wireless subscribers being surprised by a higher than average monthly bill, usually due to unexpected overage or roaming charges.

Under the voluntary guidelines, these wireless providers will send consumers free alerts when they approach and meet their monthly limit on voice, text, and data services. The guidelines will also ask providers to alert consumers when they are about to incur international roaming charges and clearly disclose to customers any tools available to monitor and limit usage. The wireless industry has agreed to fully implement these guidelines by April 2013. However, while the final text of the guidelines is not yet available, the guidelines do not seem to reflect a number of recommendations made by the National Hispanic Media Coalition, NHMC, and other consumer groups, notably to require that any alerts be standardized, in plain language that is easy to understand, and available in other languages besides English. The FCC has decided to keep its Bill Shock proceeding open and has promised to resume the rulemaking process if the industry players fail to comply with the guidelines that they create. "We have long advocated for enforceable, common sense rules that would protect consumers from unexpected charges on their monthly bills. While we are glad that the FCC has chosen not to close the door on the Bill Shock proceeding, we had hoped that enforceable rules would be created, rather than voluntary, industry guidelines. We look forward to reviewing more information on the practical implementation of the guidelines and will closely monitor the situation to determine whether or not we have truly achieved the victory for consumers that we have been promised," said Jessica Gonzalez, Vice President of Policy & Legal Affairs for the National Hispanic Media Coalition.]]>

National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) is a woman-led 501(c)(3) non-profit civil and human rights organization that was founded to eliminate hate, discrimination, and racism toward the Latino communities.
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