We've got this insanely-high bill thing all under control, thanks...
Reading the same endless stories about users facing 3G data bills that requires second mortgages to pay off -- the FCC recently started a proceeding to take a closer look at overbilling for mobile data
. In the European Union, regulators recently took action by capping roaming costs and allowing users to impose a hard cap on how much they can spend each month before service is suspended.
Here in the States, where the very idea of a regulator regulating to protect consumers is akin to devil worship, it's not clear the FCC's willing to upset AT&T and Verizon by imposing similar rules. On the slim chance they are -- the industry's unsurprisingly campaigning to ensure such rules are never made
. Their reason? Forcing them to offer better consumer billing tools would, uh -- prevent them from providing better consumer billing tools?:
CTIA, the wireless trade group, and the Rural Cellular Association (RCA) said in filings this week that such rules are "unnecessary." Instead of regulating, "the Commission should work with wireless carriers to educate wireless consumers of their available [billing and service] options, and should not prescribe - and ultimately limit - carriers' ability to provide effective consumer account management tools," CTIA said.
RCA argued the companies have the issue under control. "Members have adopted internal practices and procedures to remediate billing concerns directly with their customers," the trade group wrote.
One of those procedures is apparently only backing off ridiculous overbilling after
a news organization draws attention to what you're doing. Were the industry's internal practices and procedures adequate, you wouldn't see people facing $15,000 bills once a week for services that at most
should cost them a hundred or two. Despite industry protestations, there's clearly room for improvement on this front. It seems likely that with a nudge, the FCC might be able to get carriers to impose EU-style user tools voluntarily, making almost everybody happy.