Wireless Providers Agree To Send Alerts To Help Consumers Avoid Unexpected Overage Fees

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – An international organization representing the wireless communications industry announced new commitments by providers that represent more than 97 percent of wireless consumers in the U.S. to send free alerts to help consumers avoid unexpected overage charges.

The joint announcement was made by CTIA-The Wireless Association® President & CEO Steve Largent, Federal Communications Chairman Julius Genachowski, and Consumers Union’s Communications Policy Counsel Parul Desai. The plan – called the “Wireless Consumer Usage Notification Guidelines” – will provide free alerts both before and after subscribers reach monthly limits on voice, data and text. In addition, the plan includes a notification to inform consumers of international roaming charges when traveling abroad. Subscribers will be covered by this plan unless they opt-out.

The CTIA “Wireless Consumer Usage Notification Guidelines” will become part of the broader CTIA “Consumer Code for Wireless Service” that provides disclosures and practices for wireless service to individual consumers. By Oct. 17, 2012 participating carriers will provide customers with at least two out of the four notifications for data, voice, text and international roaming and all of the alerts by April 17, 2013.

“Far too many Americans know what it’s like to open up their cell-phone bill and be shocked by hundreds or even thousands of dollars in unexpected fees and charges,” said President Barack Obama said. “But we can put an end to that with a simple step: an alert warning consumers that they’re about to hit their limit before fees and charges add up. Our phones shouldn’t cost us more than the monthly rent or mortgage. So I appreciate the mobile phone companies’ willingness to work with my Administration and join us in our overall and ongoing efforts to protect American consumers by making sure financial transactions are fair, honest and transparent.”

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said, “Last year, the FCC identified a growing problem known as bill shock and took important steps toward a solution, which led to today’s victory for more than 97 percent of wireless consumers. These alerts will give consumers the information they need to save money on their monthly wireless bills. Consistent with the FCC’s ongoing efforts, these actions harness technology to empower consumers, and ensure consumers get a fair shake, not bill shock.”

“Verizon Wireless has a long-standing commitment to provide customers with the tools they need to manage and monitor their wireless lives,” said Kathleen Grillo, Verizon senior vice president for federal regulatory affairs. “The new CTIA usage-notification guidelines announced today are a win for consumers. For the first time, the industry has adopted a common standard for all wireless providers to expand usage-management tools for consumers. Verizon already offers customers a number of helpful free alerts and controls for usage-based data plans, and we’re pleased that the industry took the initiative to empower consumers with more information.”

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