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Comments on news posted 2010-06-03 16:13:16: The FCC recently launched in inquiry into "bill shock," and specifically into the endless number of absurd 3G bills users seem to run into on an annual basis. ..



Radio Active
My pappy's a pistol
Premium
join:2003-01-31
Fullerton, CA

1 edit

Maybe it's time...

to make the handoff to the FTC.

The FCC seems to be losing its teeth, or has lost the political will to protect consumers from price gouging and "all that."

I know, I know... "Caveat Emptor..."

This issue has gone too far, so bring on the FTC. Deregulation is good for competition, but when consumers have to microscope their bill each month in order to keep their carriers honest, something stinks.

"I'm not saying... I'm just saying."

Disclaimer: I use Boost, so my bill is the same every month.
--
Melius est habitare in terra deserta quam cum muliere rixosa et iracunda.



SLD
Premium
join:2002-04-17
San Francisco, CA

2 edits

said by Radio Active:

I know, I know... "Caveat Emptor..."
In this day of legal mumbo-jumbo fine-print, arbitation clauses and technological services that outwit the knowledge of the average consumer, "Caveat Emptor" isn't even applicable... unless you are one to deem that just avoiding all communication services is a viable option.

How can one expect to be reasonably educated if the documentation to educate thyself exceeds the buyer's education?

cghh

join:2001-01-15
Milpitas, CA

Those additional charges

"The carriers are clearly identifying these impositions as a cost imposed upon the carrier that is being recovered from the consumer,"
Barf. Most of those "un-fees" are clearly just part of the cost of doing business and should be factored into the advertised price. It should be considered false advertising if anything is added to advertised price other than explicit taxes such as sales tax.


88615298
Premium
join:2004-07-28
West Tenness

Well of course

84 percent of those surveyed said their mobile carrier did not contact them when they were about to exceed their allowed minutes, text messages, or data downloads.

Now how can you reasonably expect these companies to make their billions from overage fees if you suddenly require them to do something as ridiculous as notifying their customers BEFORE they reach their caps?



FFH
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5
reply to cghh

Re: Those additional charges

said by cghh:

"The carriers are clearly identifying these impositions as a cost imposed upon the carrier that is being recovered from the consumer,"
Barf. Most of those "un-fees" are clearly just part of the cost of doing business and should be factored into the advertised price. It should be considered false advertising if anything is added to advertised price other than explicit taxes such as sales tax.
A "final price" billing total before signing up would be good. But I have no problem with providers showing just how much gov't fees, taxes, regulatory costs, etc are included. Federal, state, and local gov'ts would love to order providers hide those fees in a single advertised price - that way they can raise fees & taxes at will and the poor schmucks will never know the gov't is robbing them blind.
--
Are you happy with your rep in Washington, DC?


RARPSL

join:1999-12-08
Suffern, NY

Fair EFTs

There are two things wrong with EFTs (and their levels) in my opinion.

First is that they are supposed to be set at a cost that recovers the subsidy by the cell phone company for giving you the phone at a price lower than what they will sell it to you if you want to buy outright. The actual EFT is MORE than the difference in cost however. I can see this difference IF they want to treat it as if it were a loan that is being paid back over the term of the contract and the difference is interest on the loan (but see point 2 below).

Second, the EFT does not get reduced over the term of the contract on a prorated basis (or an amortized basis if you consider this as a loan). If you have only one month left on a 24 month contract why is much more than 1/24th of the EFT still due? Even when there is a claim of the EFT being reduced on a prorated basis, the monthly reduction is much less then 1/24 of the full EFT. Attempting to use loan formulas to determine the implied interest rate does not yield pay-off figures like the cell companies charge.



FFH
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

1 edit
reply to SLD

Re: Maybe it's time...

said by SLD:

How can one expect to be reasonably educated if the documentation to educate thyself exceeds the buyer's education?
Anyone can figure this out, unless you are illiterate.


But you have to get off your duff and actually look. The data is always up to date within about an hour of use.
--
Are you happy with your rep in Washington, DC?


SLD
Premium
join:2002-04-17
San Francisco, CA

You carrier's information system does not represent the entire spectrum.


Skippy25

join:2000-09-13
Hazelwood, MO
reply to FFH

Re: Those additional charges

He was clearly referring to the "unfees" and not government mandated taxes and fees as you are referring to.

In addition, he is 100% correct. The advertised prices should be 100% the price before those government mandated taxes and fees otherwise they are falsely advertising the price of their service.

Before you even start.... there is not a single person in this country that does not know the price being shown is before taxes in virtually every case. There are very very few places, that give you the price with taxes. If the couriers chose to do that then so be it, but they won't because that makes the advertised price higher going against their goal and it would be very inconsistent throughout their servicing area.


Skippy25

join:2000-09-13
Hazelwood, MO
reply to RARPSL

Re: Fair EFTs

Quite simply because recovery of the cost of equipment has very little to nothing to do with the ETF and more to do with locking in a "unit" of profit for the next X amount of time.

I have said and will continue to say that phones being tied to a carrier and them "subsidizing" them needs to end. They should implement a system that requires you to purchase the phone outright through either a cash price or a finance plan. In addition, a phone should be able to be used on any courier that it is compatible with at any time a customer decides to take it there.

However, there are 2 things that work against this and thus against the consumer. 1.) Carriers wont be able to lock in customers and they will be free to leave if unhappy and actually have an option 2.) The inflated cost of phones will not be as profitable to the carriers or the manufacturers.



brian1234567

@infoave.net

Hmm

A lot of great opinions out there for sure. he only problem I have with my cell phone company (AT&T) in how they rip you off is you can only get extra features per person on family plan unless you want to pay astronomical fees to get a "family-all-in-one".

Also, why are all the broadband services capped at 5GB usage? If I uploaded a power point and some video I made for it, oopps there goes my 5GB for the month the 3rd day. Shouldn't unlimited like homes but have tiers of speed like homes. For instance $40.00 a month for 1mb/s $50.00 for 2mb/s and so on?

And as one user put it, it's not the the buyer isn't educated enough to understand the print, either is the sales person nor half the company. Just the lawyers who are saving their arses!!!!



Dagda1175

join:2001-06-17
Goleta, CA

Personal responsibility

...surrenders again!


rradina

join:2000-08-08
Chesterfield, MO
reply to FFH

Re: Maybe it's time...

And if my smart-phone's e-mail client gets caught in a loop and suddenly starts chewing through megabytes of data????

This hasn't happened to me but wouldn't it be nice if my carrier stopped my service rather than hit me for a $500 (or more) overage fee before my battery drained...

I have an iPhone and I do have periodic problems with having to delete and recreate all my e-mail accounts (I have three, Exchange, Yahoo! and G-Mail) because the e-mail client gets caught in a loop and drains the battery. I'm waiting for the day when it not only drains the battery but chews through gigabytes of data too.

This type of fine-print-deception is the same thing banks are facing. I think Karl hit the nail on the head when he used the term amoral.

Last summer I had about $8,000 in legal fees (I hate lawyers) on a bank credit line at 9% interest. My bank sent me a flier that said I could transfer balance to my credit card and get 0% for 12 months. I thought it was a good deal to use free bank money for a year. Unfortunately I didn't read the micro-print. They hit me with a 3% balance transfer fee. I still saved money but I was pretty upset about the transfer fee. I thought it was misleading to bury the fee in the micro-print. And lets face it, often these "contracts" have pages of fine print and why is it necessary for a consumer to read all of it to find out what kind of deal they are getting? Why can't they be up front and clearly identify the 3% transfer fee? I still would have transferred it because it did save me interest charges, but I would have a much higher opinion of my bank. As it is, I think it's full of a bunch of "amoral" theifs!.


rradina

join:2000-08-08
Chesterfield, MO
reply to Skippy25

Re: Those additional charges

And let's throw the cable companies into this mix. They advertise $29.99/month for 12 months unlimited long distance residential phone service that lures folks into switching. Then you get your first bill and discover that it's really $39.99 after taxes, fees and whatever else they line-item into the total price.

It's ridiculous. Any business that thinks it's "fair" is full of it. They know darn well that they are trying to pull a fast one. This is no different than a car salesman who only wants to tell you the final price for your new car and doesn't want to talk about how much you are getting for your old car. He's trying to point out that you are getting a $25,000 car for $20,000 and doesn't want you to know that you are getting $3,000 trade-in value for your car and most of the cost reduction is rebate money. He wants your old car because they make MASSIVE profits off used vehicles.

Of course this is why all great nations eventually fall. They become so corrupt, dishonest and "amoral" that they fail to notice the storm brewing on their border until it's too late.


openbox9
Premium
join:2004-01-26
Germany
kudos:2
reply to Skippy25

Re: Fair EFTs

said by Skippy25:

I have said and will continue to say that phones being tied to a carrier and them "subsidizing" them needs to end. They should implement a system that requires you to purchase the phone outright through either a cash price or a finance plan.
No thank you. I like my "no additional cost" phone.

elray

join:2000-12-16
Santa Monica, CA

How to avoid Bill Shock

One word: Prepaid.

No government intervention required.



wm2943

@geetel.net
reply to FFH

Re: Maybe it's time...

Click for full size
Click for full size
AT&T's page.

BTW, I sell for 3 major carriers and most people (85-95%) don't read a thing or ask a question. They just sign, and yes I do tell them what they just signed.

Sammer

join:2005-12-22
Canonsburg, PA
reply to RARPSL

Re: Fair EFTs

The only fair ETF is no ETF!


TBZRSS

join:2010-06-03
Friendswood, TX
reply to wm2943

Sometimes it won't help to read your contract...

You don't have to be a rocket scientist or a professional researcher to dig up TONS of historical data on how telcos have been screwing us for years. For Christ's sake, there are companies that will offer a service to dig through all of your phone bills (typically corporate) to find the inconsistencies in billing. They offer this service FREE OF CHARGE. They then make a request for a refund for all of the inappropriate charges and take a "cut" of those monies. Can you imagine, companies that could base their entire income stream on something like this? Believe it.

I was representing some independent resellers of telephone service during the deregulation of local phone service (see Telco Act of 1996) and saw some unbelievable stuff... For instance, we moved 300 phone lines from SWBT to Quest and SWBT took out 40% of Houston's ability to call these lines!!! This was later proven by multiple testimonies of SWBT techs. That my friend is the definition of Anti-Competitive behavior.

AT&T pulled a nasty on my wife and I. In 2003, we purchased 2 AT&T phones on a family plan. We shared our minutes from the same "minute bucket". They weren't supposed to bill us for talking with one another on these phones. However, they proceeded to bill us 2 minutes for every 1 minute of conversation between our phones. We sent in a request (via phone and email) for refunds of these instances EVERY MONTH! Guess what they told us....."Sorry about that. That shouldn't be happening. However, we don't have the ability to refund you the minutes that you all used while receiving these calls from each other. However, we'd be happy to refund you the minutes used from the phone originating the calls." So they could only refund the calling phone, not the receiving phone. We even have this in writing.....

We went to court and presented our case to the judge and won. We then sued them under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act which provides treble damages to the consumer if you were screwed.....we won...

So, I don't care how many times you read a contract, nothing can protect you from a giant that wants to screw you. It's like being in prison...only you don't have the option to NOT pick up the soap because living without a mobile phone is NOT an option.


Skippy25

join:2000-09-13
Hazelwood, MO
reply to openbox9

Re: Fair EFTs

Glad you put that in quotes because you and I both know that the phone cost you as you pay for it outright or through the inflated price of the service.

You may feel better about buying things that you have no idea how much you are paying for, but I prefer to know what exactly I am paying for the item I am buying.


openbox9
Premium
join:2004-01-26
Germany
kudos:2

The difference is that I look at it like I'm paying for a service that includes a device for the service. I don't need it separated, nor do I really care how much the device costs.