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2nd Quarter Report of Inquiries and Complaints for 2011

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Released: January 18, 2012

NEWS
Federal Communications Commission

News Media Information 202 / 418-0500

445 12th Street, S.W.
Internet:
http://www.fcc.gov

Washington, D. C. 20554

TTY: 1-888-835-5322


This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action.
See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).


For Immediate Release:

News Media Contact:
January
18,
2012
Keyla.Hernandez-Ulloa
at
(202)
418-0965


e-mail: Keyla.Hernandez-Ulloa@fcc.gov




QUARTERLY REPORT OF INFORMAL CONSUMER INQUIRIES AND

COMPLAINTS FOR SECOND QUARTER OF CALENDAR YEAR 2011 RELEASED




Washington, DC – The Commission has released its Report of the top subject areas of
informal consumer inquiries and complaints received and processed by the Consumer &
Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB) during the second quarter of calendar year 2011.

2011 Second Quarter Inquiries. During the second quarter of 2011, the overall number
of inquiries for the top four reported inquiry categories decreased by more than 36% from the
number received and processed by CGB during the previous quarter, from 20,451 during the first
quarter, to 13,023, as described below. The number of Cable and Satellite Services inquiries
decreased by more than 30%, from 2,057 to 1,426, due to a decrease in inquiries regarding
billing and rates issues. Inquiries regarding Billing and Rates Issues constituted more than 41%
of the inquiries in this category during the second quarter. The number of Radio and Television
Broadcasting inquiries decreased by nearly 45%, from 6,381 to 3,495, primarily due to a
decrease in inquiries concerning broadcast programming issues. Wireless Telecommunications
inquiries notably decreased by more than 36%, from 3,477 to 2,194, with a substantial decrease
in the number of inquiries regarding service related issues. Wireline Telecommunications
inquiries decreased more by than 30%, from 8,536 to 5,908, with Telephone Consumer
Protection Act (TCPA) matters constituting more than 63% of the second quarter inquiries in this
category.

2011 Second Quarter Complaints. During the second quarter of 2011, the overall
number of complaints in the top four reported categories decreased by 4% from those received
and processed during the first quarter, from 61,603 to 59,080. Cable & Satellite Services
complaints decreased by 15%, from 1,651 to 1,389. The number of Radio and Television
Broadcasting complaints decreased by more than 27%, from 2,977 to 2,164. Wireless
Telecommunications complaints decreased by more than 4%, from 27,495 to 26,149, with Call
or Message to Wireless Device-related complaints comprising the bulk of the complaints in this
category. Wireline Telecommunications complaints decreased by nearly 1%, from 29,480 to
29,378, with TCPA-Other Issues, Do Not Call List and Unsolicited Faxes constituting the top
categories of Wireline complaints which, when combined, constituted over 89% of the Wireline
complaints in the reported subcategories during the second quarter.





The Commission receives many inquiries and complaints that do not involve violations of
the Communications Act, or a rule, policy or order of the Commission. The existence of a
complaint does not necessarily establish wrongdoing by the named company. The second
quarter Report, as well as previous reports on informal consumer inquiries and complaints, can
http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/quarter/welcome.html">be viewed at: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/quarter/welcome.html.


- FCC -



REPORT OF INFORMAL CONSUMER INQUIRIES AND COMPLAINTS

Second Quarter, Calendar Year 2011

Executive Summary




This Report tracks the top subject areas of consumer inquiries and complaints received
and processed during the second quarter of calendar year 2011 by the Consumer &
Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB).i A consumer inquiry is defined as correspondence or
communications received by the Commission from or on behalf of an individual seeking
information regarding a matter under the FCC’s jurisdiction. An informal consumer complaint is
defined as a communication received by a CGB Consumer Center, either via U.S. mail, fax, e-
mail, the Internet, or telephone from or on behalf of an individual that: (i) identifies a particular
entity under the FCC’s jurisdiction; (ii) alleges harm or injury; and (iii) seeks relief.

2011 Second Quarter Inquiries. During the second quarter of 2011, the overall number
of inquiries for the top four reported inquiry categories decreased by more than 36% from the
number received and processed by CGB during the previous quarter, from 20,451 during the first
quarter, to 13,023, as described below. The number of Cable and Satellite Services inquiries
decreased by more than 30%, from 2,057 to 1,426, due to a decrease in inquiries regarding
billing and rates issues. Inquiries regarding Billing and Rates Issues constituted more than 41%
of the inquiries in this category during the second quarter. The number of Radio and Television
Broadcasting inquiries decreased by nearly 45%, from 6,381 to 3,495, primarily due to a
decrease in inquiries concerning broadcast programming issues. Wireless Telecommunications
inquiries notably decreased by more than 36%, from 3,477 to 2,194, with a substantial decrease
in the number of inquiries regarding service related issues. Wireline Telecommunications
inquiries decreased more by than 30%, from 8,536 to 5,908, with Telephone Consumer
Protection Act (TCPA) matters constituting more than 63% of the second quarter inquiries in this
category.

2011 Second Quarter Complaints. During the second quarter of 2011, the overall
number of complaints in the top four reported categories decreased by 4% from those received
and processed during the first quarter, from 61,603 to 59,080. Cable & Satellite Services
complaints decreased by 15%, from 1,651 to 1,389. The number of Radio and Television
Broadcasting complaints decreased by more than 27%, from 2,977 to 2,164. Wireless
Telecommunications complaints decreased by more than 4%, from 27,495 to 26,149, with Call
or Message to Wireless Device-related complaints comprising the bulk of the complaints in this
category. Wireline Telecommunications complaints decreased by nearly 1%, from 29,480 to
29,378, with TCPA-Other Issues, Do Not Call List and Unsolicited Faxes constituting the top
categories of Wireline complaints which, when combined, constituted over 89% of the Wireline
complaints in the reported subcategories during the second quarter.









The Commission receives many inquiries and complaints that do not involve violations of
the Communications Act, or a rule, policy or order of the Commission. The existence of a
complaint does not necessarily establish wrongdoing by the named company. The second
quarter Report, as well as previous reports on informal consumer inquiries and complaints, can
http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/quarter/welcome.html">be viewed at: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/quarter/welcome.html.











i
The data reported reflects the complaints and inquiries recorded in CGB’s automated tracking systems
during the period from April 1 to June 30, 2011. The information generated for this Report is that entered into the
tracking systems on or before those specific dates. In addition, the data referenced in this Report account for
statistics at the national level as reported by the Commission and, therefore, are not necessarily indicative of
corresponding state or local trends.































-2-



REPORT OF INFORMAL CONSUMER INQUIRIES AND COMPLAINTS

Second Quarter, Calendar Year 2011

Top Consumer Issues – Subject Category Reference Guide















CABLE & SATELLITE SERVICES

Billing & Rates:
billing and rates charged for program service

Digital Television:

digital TV service or the transition to digital TV

Disability & Access:

video description, closed captioning, and emergency access to
video programming

Over-The-Air Reception Devices (OTARD):

installation, maintenance or use of
antennas (including direct-to-home satellite dishes, TV antennas, and wireless cable
antennas) used to receive video programming

Programming:

program content or the choice of channels/programs available to subscribers

Provider Marketing & Advertising:

provider advertising and marketing practices,
including alleged misrepresentations

Satellite Television Extension & Localism Act (STELA):

The Satellite Home Viewer
Improvement Act of 1999 (SHVIA) and Satellite Home Viewer Extension and
Reauthorization Act of 2004 (SHVERA) and was further updated under the Satellite
Television Extension & Localism Act or 2010 (STELA).

Service:
quality of service provided


RADIO & TELEVISION BROADCASTING



Digital Television:

digital TV service or the transition to digital TV

Disability & Access:

video description, closed captioning, and emergency access to
video programming

Interference:
reception of unwanted signals from nearby transmitters to home electronic
equipment

Programming:


• Indecency/Obscenity: obscene, indecent or profane programming
• Other: miscellaneous programming issues (e.g., contests and lotteries,
freedom of speech, how to start a station, journalism, false information, lists
of stations)
- 3 -

• General Criticisms: non-specific concerns regarding programming content

Station Marketing & Advertising:
station advertising and marketing practices,
including alleged misrepresentations


WIRELESS TELECOMMUNICATIONS


Billing & Rates:


Airtime Charges:

charges to subscribers for actual time spent using a wireless
phone

Credit/Refunds/Adjustments:

credits, refunds, or bill adjustments

Line Items:

surcharges and taxes appearing on a wireless bill:
o Access Charge: miscellaneous line item charges
o E-911: provision of automatic location information and automatic number
identification via a wireless phone used to contact a 911 call center
o Taxes: taxes appearing on wireless bill
o Universal Service: availability and affordability of phone service for low
income consumers in geographic areas in which the cost of providing
telephone service is high

Recurring Charges:

recurring monthly charges that appear on a subscriber’s bill

Roaming Rates:

charges assessed to the subscriber for wireless calls made while
roaming in another carrier’s territory

Rounding:

practice of rounding calls to a full minute

Service Plan Rates:

terms and conditions of service:
o Activation Fee: usually a one-time charge to initiate service
o Off-Peak: specified period during which per-minute rate is lower
o Optional Services: including caller-ID, voice mail, road-rescue
o Peak: specified time during which per-minute rate is higher
o Prepaid Service: subscriber pays for service in advance
o Promo Plan: including minute allowances
o Security Deposit: usually a one-time charge that is held by the carrier for a
specified period required for subscriber to acquire service


Carrier Marketing & Advertising:

carrier advertising and marketing practices,
including alleged misrepresentations




- 4 -

Contract – Early Termination of Service:

termination of a subscriber’s service prior to
end of specified contract term:
• By Subscriber: subscriber’s liability for terminating service prior to end of
specified contract term
• By Carrier: carrier’s right to terminate a subscriber’s service prior to end of
specified contract term

Equipment (EQUI)

• Equipment Unauthorized Charges (EQUC)- subscriber charged for wireless
phone without agreeing to purchasing phone
• Faulty Equipment (EFAU) - technical or malfunctioning equipment
• Stolen Equipment (ESTO) - misuse or reporting problems associated with
stolen equipment

Interference:
reception of unwanted signals from nearby transmitters to electronic
equipment

License Information (General):

General Mobile Radio Services (GMRS) license
acquisition, requirements, eligibility, cancellation, frequency coordination, replacement
and other related issues

Service:

quality of service or the lack of signal coverage within a geographic area served
by a wireless provider


Dead Spots: inability to receive service within certain areas

Dropped Calls: premature termination of calls

Home Area Service: overall quality of service within the subscriber’s local
calling
area

Network Busy Signal: calls that do not go through because of
overcrowding of the service frequencies

Roaming Availability: availability of service outside of the subscriber’s
local calling area

Roaming Service: overall quality of service while roaming

Service Interruption: inability to use wireless phone because service was
interrupted by service provider

Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA):

compliance with TCPA wireless requirements

Tower:

light outages, paint, posting, zoning and registration


WIRELINE TELECOMMUNICATIONS


Billing & Rates:

Credit/Refunds/Adjustments:

account credits, refunds or adjustments

- 5 -

Line Items:

charges and taxes appearing on a telephone bill:

• Access – Subscriber Line Charge: subscriber local-loop line charges for
maintaining residential and business and telephone access to the network
• Access – Universal Service: FCC’s universal service fund-affordable access to
basic telephone service for low-income consumers and consumers in high-cost
areas, and provision of communications services to schools, libraries and
health care facilities
• Interstate Directory Assistance: charges assessed for access to directory
assistance information
• Taxes on Telephone Bill: local, state, or federal taxes appearing on a
telephone bill
• Truth in Billing - No Service Provider ID: the name of the service provider
and/or contact information for the service provider is not easily identifiable on
the bill
• Truth in Billing - Bundled Charges: bill fails to contain plain language
description and breakdown of charges for each carrier where multiple carriers
appear on the bill
• Truth in Billing - No Payment Solution: bill fails to clearly distinguishe
charges for which nonpayment will result in disconnection from those that
will not result in disconnection

Rates:

rates and charges billed by telephone companies:

• Casual Call Billing: rates billed for calls placed from non-public phones
through a carrier that is not the presubscribed carrier for the telephone (or
does not recognize a telephone number as that of a subscriber)
• Double Billing: disputes concerning double billing for calls or services
• DSL Rate Problem: DSL promotional plan rates altered or unspecified to
consumer
• International Internet Dial-up: international calls billed to subscriber as a
result of using local (domestic) Internet service providers to access websites
• International Calls – Rates: international calls, rates and/or service that either
originate or terminate in the U.S.
• 809 International Billing: 809 area code collect call and consumer dialing
scams
• 900 Pay-Per-Call Billing: commercially provided interstate 900 number
information or entertainment services
• OSP Rates: rates charged for interstate calls placed from public phones
• Rates for Interstate Telecommunications Services – Billing: disputes
concerning interstate rates and charges

Cramming:
unauthorized, misleading or deceptive charges appearing on a subscriber’s
bill

Recurring Charges

: recurring charges that appear on a subscriber’s bill

- 6 -


Service Quality:
quality of service provided by carrier:
• DSL Service Inadequate: poor quality of service or service outages
• Interstate Telecommunications: poor call reception, service outages, service
disconnects, or carrier’s failure to release telephone line (and no charges are
associated)
• Long Distance Service Treatment: inadequate customer service treatment by
long distance carriers including, but not limited to, additional services being
added without the consumer’s knowledge or approval

Slamming:

practice of changing a subscriber’s telecommunications service provider (or a
calling plan) without the subscriber’s consent
• International slam: changing a subscriber’s international long distance service
without permission
• Local Service slammed: changing a subscriber’s local or regional intrastate
long distance service without permission
• Local and Long Distance slammed: changing a subscriber’s local and long
distance service without permission
• Long Distance slammed: changing a subscriber’s interstate telephone
company service without permission
• Slamming w/Problem LOA: changing a subscriber’s interstate telephone
company based on fraudulent signed documents or illegal formats, such as
sweepstakes

Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA):

compliance with TCPA:
• Do Not Call List: any telephone solicitation to a residential telephone
subscriber who has requested not to receive telephone solicitations
• Unsolicited Fax: unsolicited (“junk”) faxes or the use of a computer or other
device to send any messages via a telephone facsimile
• Other: other aspects of TCPA (e.g., prerecorded messages, abandoned calls &
war dialing, business telephone complaints, emergency telephone complaints,
call or message to wireless device, and/or call or message to toll free numbers)

Universal Service Issues:

contribution methodology, general information, rural health
care and calculation increases.








- 7 -

Summary of Top Consumer Inquiry Subjects

Processed by the FCC's Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau

Second Quarter - Calendar Year 2011

April

May

June

Quarter Totals

Cable & Satellite Services


Service Related Issues
41
47
47
135
Programming Issues
37
56
56
149
Satellite Television Extension & Localism Act Issues
55
67
50
172
Over-the-Air Reception Device Issues
103
136
146
385
Billing & Rates Issues
192
212
181
585
Totals
428
518
480
1,426

April

May

June

Quarter Totals

Radio and Television Broadcasting

Disability Issues
34
39
51
124
Station Marketing & Advertising
56
58
44
158
Interference
132
139
184
455
Digital Television Issues
258
417
427
1,102
Broadcast Programming Issues
572
551
533
1,656
Totals
1,052
1,204
1,239
3,495

April

May

June

Quarter Totals

Wireless Telecommunications

Tower Related Issues
45
58
55
158
Billing & Rates
98
99
104
301
Interference
107
112
107
326
Service Related Issues
199
264
237
700
License Information (General)
200
223
286
709
Totals
649
756
789
2,194

April

May

June

Quarter Totals

Wireline Telecommunications

Cramming 80
119
152
351
Number Portability
95
152
173
420
Billing & Rates
116
191
258
565
Universal Service Issues
227
301
285
813
Telephone Consumer Protection Act Issues
1,150
1,323
1,286
3,759
Totals
1,668
2,086
2,154
5,908

Notes:


Summary of Top Consumer Complaint Subjects

Processed by the FCC's Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau

Second Quarter - Calendar Year 2011

April

May

June

Quarter Totals

Cable & Satellite Services

Disability & Access Issues
33
27
41
101
Provider Marketing & Advertising
59
44
55
158
Service Related Issues
89
100
103
292
Billing & Rates Issues
120
156
162
438
Programming Issues
119
154
127
400
Totals
420
481
488
1,389

April

May

June

Quarter Totals

Radio and Television Broadcasting

Interference
34
41
27
102
Digital Television Issues
33
57
57
147
Programming - General Criticism
76
81
115
272
Programming - Indecency/Obscenity**
119
298
200
617
Other Programming Issues
273
428
325
1,026
Totals
535
905
724
2,164

April

May

June

Quarter Totals

Wireless Telecommunications

Contract - Early Termination
104
130
127
361
Equipment Related Issues
183
192
181
556
Service Related Issues
320
351
360
1,031
Billing & Rates
1,042
955
1,109
3,106
Telephone Consumer Protection Act
6,523
6,930
7,642
21,095
Totals
8,172
8,558
9,419
26,149

April

May

June

Quarter Totals

Wireline Telecommunications

Service Quality
265
209
254
728
Billing & Rates
754
781
796
2,331
Telephone Consumer Protection Act-Unsolicited Fax
1,861
2,000
1,986
5,847
Telephone Consumer Protection Act -Other Issues
2,868
3,169
3,835
9,872
Telephone Consumer Protection Act - Do Not Call List
3,025
3,594
3,981
10,600
Totals
8,773
9,753
10,852
29,378

Notes:
* An informal consumer complaint is defined as any correspondence or communication received at a Consumer and Governmental
Affairs Bureau (CGB) Consumer Center via U.S. mail, fax, e-mail, the Internet or telephone from or on behalf of an individual that : (i)
identifies a particular entity under the FCC’s jurisdiction; (ii) alleges harm or injury; and (iii) requests relief. The complaint figures in
this Report reflect selected categories of complaints -- specifically, the top complaint categories listed above-- and are not inclusive
of all complaints handled by the FCC.

** The number of broadcast programming complaints assigned to each of the programming sub-categories is based upon initial
processing. The distribution of programming complaints among the sub-categories may change upon further review. Complaints
regarding alleged indecency/obscenity/profanity during specific programs are forwarded to the Enforcement Bureau (EB) for
appropriate handling. The number of programming complaints noted in this Report reflects complaints received by CGB, EB, and
those e-mailed directly to the respective offices of the FCC Chairman and the Commissioners. The reported counts may include
duplicate complaints or contacts that subsequently are determined insufficient to be actionable.

*** See attachment for a brief description of each subject category.
****The data noted in this Report reflect statistics at the national level as reported to the Commission, and therefore are not
necessarily indicative of corresponding state or local trends.
*****The complaint figures in this Report represent volume only for the categories and subcategories listed and are not inclusive of al
complaints for all categories handled by the FCC.


Document Outline

  • 2nd Qtr 2011 Exec sum
  • Top Consumer Issues 2nd Qtr 2011
  • public report inquiries - 2nd qtr 2011
  • public report complaints - 2nd qtr 2011

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