Shouldn't Bogus Fees Be Part Of FCC's 'Transparency' Push?
As long as we're looking at truth in advertising...
If nothing else, it's pretty clear that both the FCC's national broadband plan and their network neutrality rules are going to focus heavily on transparency -- as in, making sure the consumer knows precisely what kind of connection they're buying. One of the agency's workshops this week focused specifically on this issue
, and the FCC's "sixth network neutrality principle" is transparency. At the moment, "transparency" to the FCC means the consumer getting accurate speed and network management information about their connection:
Commissioner Mignon Clyburn asked whether service providers are providing consumers with services and plans most beneficial to them. She was not convinced that consumers as well as content and application developers receive the information they need. She brought up concerns of actual speeds being a fraction of advertised speeds and service providers not disclosing when they block IT traffic.
But what remains untouched by the FCC so far is the ISPs' use of "unfees" or various other below the line charges that used to covertly glean additional revenue from customers. Via the use of these fees, bills are jacked up and rate hikes are imposed while the advertised price remains the same
. By using "official" sounding names (like regulatory recovery fees), carriers also get the luxury of pretending it's all Uncle Sam's fault. It's false advertising. It's in every industry
In the better part of a decade
that our users have been complaining about such practices, we've seen a number of politicians
pick up on the fee issue as a pet project. However, those efforts are quickly forgotten. While Attorneys General have cracked down on wireless carriers for everything from pretending that capped service is unlimited
to sneaky contract extensions and ETFs, the use of bogus fees to jack up the advertised price continues to be perfectly acceptable.
If the FCC's going to talk so much about transparency, shouldn't the litany of billing tricks used by wireless and terrestrial (VoIP included
) carriers at least be part of the conversation?
Re: Without a doubt
said by jjoshua:Sprint does supply these estimates of fees added on to the advertised rates:
You can't even get this information if you ask. You have to wait for your bill to arrive until you see what you're really paying.
Rates & Fees: Monthly charges exclude taxes, Sprint Surcharges [incl. USF charge of up to 14.10% (varies quarterly), Administrative Charge (up to $1.99/line/mo.), Regulatory Charge ($0.40/line/mo.) & state/local fees by area]. Sprint Surcharges are not taxes or gov't-required charges and are subject to change. Sprint chooses to collect Washington State B&O Fee of 0.471% of your monthly billed charges to recover its costs. Details: sprint.com/taxesandfees.This gets you in the ballpark and when I signed up for Sprint this past summer, they gave me the fees Added on when I asked them.
USF fees constantly change and state & local sales taxes and excise taxes vary by location.
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Re: Without a doubt
said by sholling:The better question is....why do we need to get in their face to have this be the #1 priority?
Putting a stop to blatant false advertising and fraud should be job-1 at the FTC.
Why in god's name has this not already been taken care of?
It is mind-boggling to me
Adertising practices is the FTC's responsibility Why would the FCC get involved in the regulation of advertisements and billing practices? They can barely manage the technical aspects under their legislatively mandated responsibilities. They should leave advertising issues in the FTC where they belong and who has the legal authority to haul abusers in to court.
Yarmouth Port, MA
Re: Adertising practices is the FTC's responsibility
said by FFH:That position could be part of an either/or recommendation. The FCC is absolutely interested in transparency and delivery of the broadband offering.
They should leave advertising issues in the FTC where they belong and who has the legal authority to haul abusers in to court.
I can't imagine the FTC getting involved in wireline telephone service billing issues. So why treat broadband differently? (Except that the FCC has had no great luck with either.)
Robb Topolski -= funchords.com =- District of Columbia -- KJ7RL
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Re: Adertising practices is the FTC's responsibility
That position could be part of an either/or recommendation. The FCC is absolutely interested in transparency and delivery of the broadband offering.If they're so concerned with accuracy is speed and connection quality, extending that desire for transparency and truth in advertising to billing only makes sense...Since we're talking about billions in junk charges and lost revenue, it won't happen. Would be too disruptive to the people in charge (If I recall correctly, their names are "AT&T" and "Verizon").
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Re: FCC = Facade for Company Control
said by jb50 :Says Mr. Anon from Exxon Mobile.
I bet you are right, they will never do anything to hurt their booty buddies.
While I would like to see unfees tackled, Ms. Clyburn has pleasantly surprised me. So far, she is willing to ask, what up until now, should have been routine questions. If she can spearhead at least getting providers to correct "up-to" and "best effort" advertising while simultaneously disclosing how they manage and shape traffic, that's a damn good start.
Next up? Promoting a competitive infrastructure. (Yeah, right.)
Re: Absolutely agreed
said by iansltx:I do agree with you that it's bogus. A while back I had called Atlantic Broadband for my Grandparents because they were sick of Verizon and the rate hikes.
MetroPCS and some prepaid providers (Boost Mobile) are using this as a competitive differentiation but really all taxes and fees for internet and cellular service should be noted up front.
For example, my current cellular plan has about $6 in taxes and fees on top of the $30 that I pay plus $7 for insurance. Logically, my plan should then be $36 per month, not $30 plus taxes and fees.
On my internet things are more clear-cut. The only fee is for my modem, $5 per month at this point, and the only tax is sales tax on modem rental, about 40 cents per month. I'm still not terribly enthused about the rental fee, but at least it's straightforwarad.
What do you guys see on your cable or DSL bills for internet other than the advertised price of the service?
Atlantic Broadband advertised a plan at $29.95 a month. After calling they informed me they would have to get a different modem to use the service. I had no problem with this and asked what the price was for the modem. This modem couldn't be bought only rented for $5 per month. I even asked how could you advertise it at $29.95 a month when requiring a $5 modem fee without any option to purchase the modem. I could see advertising it at $29.95 a month if you could buy the modem but when you can't it makes absolutely no sense to advertise a price that isn't achievable before taxes.