“Wireless carriers agree to end bill shock” declared the CNNMoney headlines, “those surprise overage charges on your wireless bill will soon be a thing of the past.” Oh really! The story was either written by an extreme optimist or someone who knows very little about the machinations of carrier billing or customer behavior.
Despite the fact that the FCC, America’s excuse for a regulator and perpetrator of ‘net neutrality’ rules, took its sweet time to bring about the latest ruling on bill shock, CNN Money stated wireless operators had ‘agreed’ to alert consumers when they approach their monthly limits for voice, data and text messages, or when they are about to incur international roaming charges. They were more likely forced – kicking and screaming all the way.
Working with the speed of a drugged tortoise, the FCC took two years to investigate ‘bill shock.’ Quite strange when all it had to do was read the sensationalist news stories of massive bills created by customers not understanding the vagaries of data plans and roaming charges.
The study found that 84 per cent of Americans who experienced bill shock said they were not tipped off by their wireless company when they were about to exceed their limits, and 88 per cent said they heard nothing from their provider after they went over. Naughty operators, I hear you scream. Naughty, or dumb? After all, how difficult is it to monitor bills that exceed normal usage patterns by a percentage before sending them out to customers?
At least those American post-paid customers can rest easy now. Well, almost. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said that ‘bill shock’ was a “real problem that needed to be fixed…..a victory for more than 200 million wireless consumers,” then proceeded to give operators until October 17, 2012 to implement two of the four notifications for data, voice, texting and international roaming, and the rest by April 17, 2013. All this time even after stating it was “an easy technological solution.”
It must be comforting for the USA to have a regulator that acts so quickly to implement ‘net neutrality’, which means very little to the majority of Internet users, yet takes three years plus to put into effect safeguards for over-charging that the Europeans achieved in less than half the time.
Surely it would have been quicker, and easier, to make everyone switch to pre-paid accounts? No chance of ‘bill shock’ there, right?