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Denying Bill Shock by Distorting the Facts

by: Joel Gurin and John Horrigan, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau

July 15, 2010 - 03:17 PM

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:78:height=98,width=70]]The FCC receives thousands of complaints a year about cell-phone bill shock — what happens when consumers get sudden, unexpected increases in their bills from one month to the next. In May, we released a national survey, done with two major research firms, showing that 17 percent of Americans — 30 million people — have experienced this problem. Click here for the whitepaper on the FCC survey.

Now, rather than focusing on ways to address consumers' concerns, the wireless trade association (CTIA — The Wireless Association) has been hard at work finding unfounded ways to criticize the FCC's data.   The association's latest attack on the FCC's study is based on an astounding misstatement: that as many as 70 percent of the people we interviewed were teenagers. This is simply untrue — in fact, we made it clear that we interviewed only adults.

Ironically enough, this whopper of an error stemmed from CTIA's misunderstanding of how research organizations interview cell-phone users, who are an increasingly important part of any survey sample. Click here for a more detailed rebuttal of this and other errors in CTIA's argument.

It's unfortunate that CTIA, which represents one of the country's most innovative and productive industries, has decided that ignoring or distorting the facts is a better strategy than simply addressing wireless customers' concerns. This trade association apparently believes there's nothing to worry about if 30 million Americans have gotten sudden increases on their cell-phone bills.

At the FCC, where we handle thousands of complaints a year on exactly this subject, we do believe that it's a problem, and one that consumers shouldn't have to experience. Moving forward, we hope that CTIA can work with us on simple solutions to help their customers avoid these costly surprises.

Please read or post comments here.

Cross-posted from Blogband.

Updated: April 18, 2012 - 12:15 PM
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