Down With Fees: FCC Investigates Verizon Wireless, Proposes New System

Down With Fees: FCC Investigates Verizon Wireless, Proposes New System

There’s no room for fees in our carefully-calculated budget. But we always seem to incur them anyway, with no warning (but many muttered expletives). And it seems that enough of us are muttering: the Federal Communications Committee (FCC) is investigating Verizon Wireless due to complaints about unexpected fees from its customers, and intends to make their investigation industry-wide.

First Verizon, Now The Industry

According to The Washington Post,  the investigation’s expansion comes after Verizon’s admission that 15 million customers were in fact charged over $50 million in fees for unrequested and unused data services. The charges were blamed on a software problem, and the company intends to refund all of the wrongful charges. But the FCC still isn’t satisfied.

It’s The Future That’s Interesting

This caught our eye not because of what’s happening now (big regulatory organization investigates big mobile providers), but because of what might happen next. The Chairman of the FCC is proposing that wireless providers warn customers who are near their text, voice, and data limits or about to rack up data or roaming charges. Interestingly, providers in the European Union are already required to make these alerts. Another proposal pushes for wireless providers to automatically discontinue service once a user has reached his or her limit—unless the user officially opts to pay more.

Is The FCC Helping The Little Guy?

Of course, the providers aren’t thrilled with these developments. The lack of clarity in charges bemoaned by users often works to a provider’s advantage, and carriers would rather develop new systems for users to check their usage status on their own initiative than cater to them with customized alerts. We users, on the other hand, are pleasantly surprised by the FCC proposals. Call us cautiously optimistic.

Tell us in the comments: Would reaching-your-limit alerts help you avoid fees? Leave your Twitter handle for further conversation!

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