The FCC does not want to be responsible for Americans having heart attacks over their (exorbitant) wireless phone bills.
And that is why in October 2011–not long before an unfortunate U.S. airman stationed in Guam amassed $16,000 in phone charges–the FCC enacted “Wireless Consumer Usage Notification Guidelines,” which will send alerts both before and after subscribers reach their monthly limits on minutes, data, text and international roaming.
The goal is to prevent so-called “bill shock,” which affects some 30 million Americans, according to an FCC report. The FCC also found in a 2010 paper that out of 764 bill-shock complaints during the first six months of 2010, 67 percent of were for $100 or more; 20 percent were for $1,000 or more; and one was for a whopping $68,505 (ET, phoning home, perhaps?)
As it happens, April 17 was when all the telecom company alerts were supposed to be in place. Did they comply?
It seems they have.
As an FCC chart notes, each of the Big Ten (including AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile), say they now have proper alerts in places. The exceptions are providers like Clearwire and Plateau, which don’t offer the service or only offer unlimited plans.
This is a big deal, because as of October 17, 2012, when at least two out of the four notifications were supposed to be in place, AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile hadn’t complied.
“This milestone is a clear win for consumers,” outgoing FCC chair Julius Genachowski said in a statement. “These text alerts will allow consumers to enjoy the benefits of mobile without unexpected hits to their wallets.”
According to the FCC, about 97 percent of wireless customers across the nation will now be protected from bill shock.
As for the airman? The telecom company settled with him for $4,829. Now that’s something to call home about.