Avoiding sticker shock when you open your cell phone bill

Consumers have long complained about going over their minutes on their cell phone bill and getting charged excessive overage fees. Unless you constantly check your minutes online or keep track on your phone, it’s easy to do especially if your limit is low.

Whether it’s overage minutes or roaming charges, these shocking bills are called “bill shock.” A survey by Consumers Union found 60% of wireless customers with traditional cell plans would support a government rule to prevent this financial nightmare.  The rule would require cell companies to alert you when you’re about to exceed your plan limit.

In late 2010, the FCC proposed rules that would require your carrier leave you a voice mail or text message when you are close to your text, voice, or data plan limit.  There are similar warnings in the European Union.

One in five customers in the Consumers Union study reported having an extra charge on their bill during the last year. For 38% of people the charge was more than $30.  The FCC estimates 30 million American have experienced bill shock, and they want to hear from victims and other consumers who want to comment on the proposed rules.

The survey also found 57% of consumers favored a government rule that would allow cell phone providers to disable accounts in danger of overage fees.

“It’s time to give wireless customers the tools they need to avoid these charges. The FCC needs to adopt its pending Bill Shock rule to ensure consumers are uniformly notified as they approach their usage limits and offer consumers a chance to adjust their plans,” Consumers Union policy counsel Parul P. Desai said.

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2 responses to “Avoiding sticker shock when you open your cell phone bill

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