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4th Quarter 2011 Inquiry and Complaint Report

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Released: February 14, 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:
February
14,
2012
Keyla
Hernandez-Ulloa at (202) 418-0965


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



QUARTERLY REPORT OF CONSUMER INQUIRIES AND INFORMAL

COMPLAINTS FOR FOURTH QUARTER OF CALENDAR YEAR 2011 RELEASED




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

2011 Fourth Quarter Inquiries. During the fourth quarter of 2011, the overall number of
inquiries for the top four reported inquiry categories decreased by more than 4% from the
number received and processed by CGB during the previous quarter, from 14,419 during the
third quarter, to 13,782, as described below. The number of Cable and Satellite Services
inquiries decreased by more than 18%, from 1,650 to 1,347, due to a decrease in inquiries
regarding Billing and Rates, Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act issues, and Over-
the-Air Reception Device issues. Inquiries regarding Billing and Rates issues constituted more
than 36% of the inquiries in this category during the fourth quarter. The number of Radio and
Television Broadcasting inquiries increased by more than 18%, from 3,664 to 4,326, primarily
due to an increase in inquiries concerning Programming issues. Wireless Telecommunications
inquiries decreased by more than 2%, from 2,094 to 2,037, with a decrease in the number of
inquiries regarding Billing and Rates, Tower-related, and License Information issues. Wireline
Telecommunications inquiries decreased by more than 13%, from 7,011 to 6,072, with
Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) matters constituting more than 58% of the fourth
quarter inquiries in this category.

2011 Fourth Quarter Informal Complaints. During the fourth quarter of 2011, the
overall number of informal complaints in the top five reported categories increased by nearly 1%
from those received and processed during the third quarter, from 66,847 to 67,476. Bundled and
VoIP Service-related complaints increased by more than 11% this quarter, from 1,661 to 1,847.
Cable and Satellite Services complaints decreased by more than 12%, from 1,663 to 1,461. The
number of Radio and Television Broadcasting complaints increased by more than 15%, from
2,083 to 2,406. Wireless Telecommunications complaints increased by more than 9%, from
29,390 to 32,124, with Call or Message to Wireless Device-related complaints comprising the
bulk of the complaints in this category. Wireline Telecommunications complaints decreased by
more than 7%, from 32,050 to 29,638, with TCPA-Other Issues, Do Not Call List and
Unsolicited Faxes constituting the top categories of such complaints. These subcategories,
combined, constituted over 90% of the Wireline complaints in the reported subcategories during
the fourth quarter.


The Commission receives many inquiries and informal 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
fourth quarter Report, as well as previous reports on consumer inquiries and informal
complaints, can be viewhttp://www.fcc.gov/cgb/quarter/welcome.html">ed at: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/quarter/welcome.html.


- FCC -



REPORT OF CONSUMER INQUIRIES AND INFORMAL COMPLAINTS

Fourth Quarter, Calendar Year 2011

Executive Summary




This Report tracks the top subject areas of consumer inquiries and informal complaints
received and processed during the fourth 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 Fourth Quarter Inquiries. During the fourth quarter of 2011, the overall number of
inquiries for the top four reported inquiry categories decreased by more than 4% from the
number received and processed by CGB during the previous quarter, from 14,419 during the
third quarter, to 13,782, as described below. The number of Cable and Satellite Services
inquiries decreased by more than 18%, from 1,650 to 1,347, due to a decrease in inquiries
regarding Billing and Rates, Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act issues, and Over-
the-Air Reception Device issues. Inquiries regarding Billing and Rates issues constituted more
than 36% of the inquiries in this category during the fourth quarter. The number of Radio and
Television Broadcasting inquiries increased by more than 18%, from 3,664 to 4,326, primarily
due to an increase in inquiries concerning Programming issues. Wireless Telecommunications
inquiries decreased by more than 2%, from 2,094 to 2,037, with a decrease in the number of
inquiries regarding Billing and Rates, Tower-related, and License Information issues. Wireline
Telecommunications inquiries decreased by more than 13%, from 7,011 to 6,072, with
Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) matters constituting more than 58% of the fourth
quarter inquiries in this category.

2011 Fourth Quarter Informal Complaints. During the fourth quarter of 2011, the
overall number of informal complaints in the top five reported categories increased by nearly 1%
from those received and processed during the third quarter, from 66,847 to 67,476. Bundled and
VoIP Service-related complaints increased by more than 11% this quarter, from 1,661 to 1,847.
Cable and Satellite Services complaints decreased by more than 12%, from 1,663 to 1,461. The
number of Radio and Television Broadcasting complaints increased by more than 15%, from
2,083 to 2,406. Wireless Telecommunications complaints increased by more than 9%, from
29,390 to 32,124, with Call or Message to Wireless Device-related complaints comprising the
bulk of the complaints in this category. Wireline Telecommunications complaints decreased by
more than 7%, from 32,050 to 29,638, with TCPA-Other Issues, Do Not Call List and
Unsolicited Faxes constituting the top categories of such complaints. These subcategories,
combined, constituted over 90% of the Wireline complaints in the reported subcategories during
the fourth quarter.

The Commission receives many inquiries and informal 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

fourth quarter Report, as well as previous reports on consumer inquiries and informal
complaints, can be viewhttp://www.fcc.gov/cgb/quarter/welcome.html">ed at: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/quarter/welcome.html.










i The data reported reflect the informal complaints and inquiries recorded in CGB’s automated tracking systems
during the period from October 1 to December 31, 2011. The information generated for this Report is that entered
into the tracking systems during that period. 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 CONSUMER INQUIRIES AND INFORMAL COMPLAINTS

Fourth Quarter, Calendar Year 2011

Top Consumer Issues – Subject Category Reference Guide















BUNDLED AND VoIP SERVICES

Billing and Rates:
billing and rates charged for bundled or VoIP services

Broadband Services:

high-speed broadband access that is always on and faster than
traditional dial-up access. Broadband can be provided over different platforms: Digital
Subscriber Line (DSL); Cable Modem; Fiber-Optic Cable (Fiber); Wireless; Satellite; and
Broadband over Power Line (BPL)

Carrier Marketing and Advertising:
carrier advertising and marketing practices,
including alleged misrepresentations

Number Portability:
ability to port a telephone number from one service provider to
another

Service:
quality of service provided


CABLE AND SATELLITE SERVICES

Billing and Rates:
billing and rates charged for program service

Broadband Services:

quality of high-speed broadband access provided

Digital Television:
digital TV service or the transition from analog to digital TV

Disability and 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 and Advertising:

provider advertising and marketing practices,
including alleged misrepresentations

Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA):

includes the Satellite
Home Viewer Improvement Act of 1999 (SHVIA) and Satellite Home Viewer Extension
and Reauthorization Act of 2004 (SHVERA), which was further updated under the
Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act of 2010
- 3 -


Service:
quality of service provided


RADIO AND TELEVISION BROADCASTING



Digital Television:

digital TV service or the transition from analog to digital TV

Disability and 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)
• General Criticisms: non-specific concerns regarding programming content

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

Service:

signal quality


WIRELESS TELECOMMUNICATIONS


Billing and 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 Charges: 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 Fund: 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

- 4 -

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 and Advertising:

carrier advertising and marketing practices,
including alleged misrepresentations

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
- 5 -


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 and Rates:

Credit/Refunds/Adjustments:

account credits, refunds or adjustments

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 distinguish 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
- 6 -

• 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

Number Portability:

ability to port a telephone number from one service provider to
another

Recurring Charges:

recurring charges that appear on a subscriber’s bill

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 slammed: 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

- 7 -

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
and 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 Fund:

contribution methodology, general information, rural health
care and calculation increases
- 8 -

Summary of Top Consumer Inquiry Subjects

Processed by the FCC's Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau

Fourth Quarter - Calendar Year 2011

October

November December

Quarter Totals

Cable and Satellite Services


Service
59
43
34
136
Programming
50
42
51
143
Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act
73
87
79
239
Over-the-Air Reception Devices
120
110
108
338
Billing and Rates
181
151
159
491
Totals
483
433
431
1,347

October

November December

Quarter Totals

Radio and Television Broadcasting

Disability and Access
46
47
46
139
Station Marketing and Advertising
54
63
60
177
Interference
134
150
131
415
Digital Television
323
295
242
860
Programming 431
1,884
420
2,735
Totals
988
2,439
899
4,326

October

November December

Quarter Totals

Wireless Telecommunications

Tower
48
45
44
137
Billing and Rates
34
67
70
171
Interference
100
98
96
294
License Information (General)
227
247
242
716
Service
264
229
226
719
Totals
673
686
678
2,037

October

November December

Quarter Totals

Wireline Telecommunications

Cramming 91
92
75
258
Number Portability
133
127
131
391
Billing and Rates
253
252
215
720
Universal Service Fund
375
418
358
1,151
Telephone Consumer Protection Act
1,312
1,118
1,122
3,552
Totals
2,164
2,007
1,901
6,072

Notes:
→A consumer inquiry is defined as any correspondence or communication received at a Consumer & Governmental
Affairs Bureau (CGB) Consumer Center from individuals seeking information on matters under the FCC’s jurisdiction.
A Report containing a brief description of each subject category is attached to this Summary.

→The data within this Summary account for statistics at the national level as reported to the Commission, and
therefore are not necessarily indicative of corresponding state and local trends. In addition, the inquiries figures in
this Summary represent volume for the categories and subcategories listed in this Summary only and are not inclusive
of all inquiries for all categories handled by the FCC.


Summary of Top Consumer Informal Complaint Subjects

Processed by the FCC's Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau

Fourth Quarter - Calendar Year 2011

October

November December

Quarter Totals

Bundled and VoIP Services

Number Portability
36
36
47
119
Carrier Marketing and Advertising
30
51
55
136
Broadband Services
54
78
58
190
Billing and Rates
211
187
226
624
Service
277
245
256
778
Totals
608
597
642
1,847

October

November December

Quarter Totals

Cable and Satellite Services

Broadband Services
44
32
26
102
Disability and Access
39
31
39
109
Programming 115
103
118
336
Billing and Rates
144
114
110
368
Service
200
185
161
546
Totals
198
166
183
1,461

October

November December

Quarter Totals

Radio and Television Broadcasting

Service
34
37
26
97
Interference
75
68
90
233
Programming - General Criticisms
169
209
224
602
Programming - Indecency/Obscenity
268
259
196
723
Other Programming
205
276
270
751
Totals
751
849
806
2,406

October

November December

Quarter Totals

Wireless Telecommunications

Contract - Early Termination of Service
197
165
142
504
Equipment
248
241
206
695
Service
884
803
826
2,513
Billing and Rates
910
902
950
2,762
Telephone Consumer Protection Act
8,474
7,890
9,286
25,650
Totals
10,713
10,001
11,410
32,124

October

November December

Quarter Totals

Wireline Telecommunications

Billing and Rates
477
436
400
1,313
Service Quality
535
443
454
1,432
Telephone Consumer Protection Act-Unsolicited Fax
1,356
1,112
885
3,353
Telephone Consumer Protection Act -Other
3,800
3,688
3,591
11,079
Telephone Consumer Protection Act - Do Not Call List
4,092
4,128
4,241
12,461
Totals
10,260
9,807
9,571
29,638

Notes:
→An informal consumer complaint is defined as any correspondence or communication received at a Consumer & 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. A summary containing a brief description of each subject category is attached to this Report.

→The number of broadcast programming complaints assigned to each of the programming subcategories is based upon initial
processing. The distribution of programming complaints among the subcategories 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 Summary 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.

→The data noted in this Summary reflect statistics at the national level as reported to the Commission, and therefore are not
necessarily indicative of corresponding state or local trends.


Document Outline

  • 4t Qtr 2011 Exec sum
  • Top Consumer Issues 4th Qtr 2011
  • public report inquiries 4th qrt 2011
  • public report complaints 4th qrt 2011

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