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FIRST QUARTER 2010 REPORT ON INFORMAL CONSUMER INQUIRIES AND COMPLAINTS RELEASED

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Released: August 13, 2010

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:
August 13, 2010




Rosemary Kimball at (202) 418-0511


e-mail: rosemary.kimball@fcc.gov
Dan
Rumelt
at
(202)
418-7512
Email:
dan.rumelt@fcc.gov


FIRST QUARTER 2010 REPORT ON INFORMAL CONSUMER

INQUIRIES AND COMPLAINTS RELEASED




Washington, DC The Commission has released its report on the top subject areas for
inquiries and complaints processed by the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB)
during the first quarter of calendar year 2010.

2010 First Quarter Inquiries. During this quarter, the total number of inquiries for all
four reported categories increased more than 7%, from 24,496 in the 4th quarter of 2009 to
26,240 in the 1st quarter of 2010. Notably, the number of Radio and Television Broadcasting
inquiries decreased nearly 6% from 5,449 in the 4th quarter of 2009 to 5,135 in the 1st quarter of
2010. The bulk of the Radio and Television Broadcasting inquiries, i.e., more than 52%,
pertained to Broadcast Programming Issues. Wireline inquiries increased more than 10% from
10,979 in the 4th quarter of 2009 to 12,107 in the 1st quarter of 2010. Telephone Consumer
Protection Act (TCPA) inquiries constituted more than 52% of the inquiries in this category.
The number of Cable and Satellite Services inquiries decreased nearly 3%, as compared to the 4th
quarter from 3,981 to 3,868. Inquiries regarding Billing and Rates Issues constituted more than
44% of the inquiries in this category. Wireless inquiries increased more than 25% from 4,087 in
the 4th quarter of 2009 to 5,130 in the 1st quarter of 2010.

2010 First Quarter Complaints. During this quarter, complaints in the reported
categories increased more than 230%, from 53,661 in the 4th quarter of 2009 to 177,589 in the 1st
quarter of 2010. In this regard, there was a notable increase in the Radio and Television
Broadcasting category, where complaints increased from 9,740 in the 4th quarter of 2009 to
132,416 in the 1st quarter of 2010 an increase of more than 1259%. Cable & Satellite Services
complaints increased 9% from 1,851 in the 4th quarter of 2009 to 2,029 in the 1st quarter of 2010.
Further, Wireless Telecommunications complaints increased 3% from 16,145 in the 4th quarter of
2009 to 16,753 in the 1st quarter of 2010. TCPA issues comprised nearly 67% of the complaints
in this category. Wireline Telecommunications complaints increased by nearly 2% in the 1st
quarter of 2010 to 26,391 from 25,925 in the 4th quarter of 2009. Telephone Consumer
Protection Act - Other Issues, Telephone Consumer Protection Act - Do Not Call List and
Telephone Consumer Protection Act Unsolicited Fax ranked as the top categories of Wireline
Telecommunications complaints and when combined, totaled over 84% of the complaints in the
reported sub-categories.


The Commission receives many inquiries and complaints that do not involve violations of
the Communications Act, or a rule or order of the Commission. The existence of a complaint
does not necessarily indicate wrongdoing by the company at issue. The quarterly report on
informal consumer inquiries and complaints release can be viewed at:
http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/quarter/welcome.html.


- FCC -



REPORT ON INFORMAL CONSUMER INQUIRIES AND COMPLAINTS

1st Quarter Calendar Year 2010

Executive Summary




This report tracks the top subject areas for consumer inquiries and complaints received
during the 1st quarter of calendar year 2010 and processed by the Consumer & Governmental
Affairs Bureau (CGB).i Inquiries are defined as correspondence or communications received at
the Commission from individuals seeking information on matters under the FCC's jurisdiction.
An informal consumer complaint is defined as a communication received at CGB's Consumer
Centers either via postal mail, fax, electronic mail (e-mail), 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.

2010 First Quarter Inquiries. During this quarter, the total number of inquiries for all
four reported categories increased more than 7%, from 24,496 in the 4th quarter of 2009 to
26,240 in the 1st quarter of 2010. Notably, the number of Radio and Television Broadcasting
inquiries decreased nearly 6% from 5,449 in the 4th quarter of 2009 to 5,135 in the 1st quarter of
2010. The bulk of the Radio and Television Broadcasting inquiries, i.e., more than 52%,
pertained to Broadcast Programming Issues. Wireline inquiries increased more than 10% from
10,979 in the 4th quarter of 2009 to 12,107 in the 1st quarter of 2010. Telephone Consumer
Protection Act (TCPA) inquiries constituted more than 52% of the inquiries in this category.
The number of Cable and Satellite Services inquiries decreased nearly 3%, as compared to the 4th
quarter from 3,981 to 3,868. Inquiries regarding Billing and Rates Issues constituted more than
44% of the inquiries in this category. Wireless inquiries increased more than 25% from 4,087 in
the 4th quarter of 2009 to 5,130 in the 1st quarter of 2010.

2010 First Quarter Complaints. During this quarter, complaints in the reported
categories increased more than 230%, from 53,661 in the 4th quarter of 2009 to 177,589 in the 1st
quarter of 2010. In this regard, there was a notable increase in the Radio and Television
Broadcasting category, where complaints increased from 9,740 in the 4th quarter of 2009 to
132,416 in the 1st quarter of 2010 an increase of more than 1259%. Cable & Satellite Services
complaints increased 9% from 1,851 in the 4th quarter of 2009 to 2,029 in the 1st quarter of 2010.
Further, Wireless Telecommunications complaints increased 3% from 16,145 in the 4th quarter of
2009 to 16,753 in the 1st quarter of 2010. TCPA issues comprised nearly 67% of the complaints
in this category. Wireline Telecommunications complaints increased by nearly 2% in the 1st
quarter of 2010 to 26,391 from 25,925 in the 4th quarter of 2009. Telephone Consumer
Protection Act - Other Issues, Telephone Consumer Protection Act - Do Not Call List and
Telephone Consumer Protection Act Unsolicited Fax ranked as the top categories of Wireline
Telecommunications complaints and when combined, totaled over 84% of the complaints in the
reported sub-categories.






-1-


The Commission receives many inquiries and complaints that do not involve violations of
the Communications Act, or a rule or order of the Commission. The existence of a complaint
does not necessarily indicate wrongdoing by the company at issue. The quarterly report on
informal consumer inquiries and complaints release can 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 for
the period January 1, 2010 to March 31, 2010. The information generated for this specific report is information
entered into the tracking systems on or before a specific date. In addition, the data within 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 ON INFORMAL CONSUMER INQUIRIES AND COMPLAINTS

1st Quarter Calendar Year 2010

Top Consumer Issues Subject Category Reference Guide















CABLE & SATELLITE SERVICES

Billing & Rates Issues:
Complaints/inquiries concerning billing matters and the rates
charged for cable programming service (or expanded basic) tier on a cable system or
satellite services

Carrier Marketing & Advertising:

Complaints/inquiries regarding advertising and
marketing practices of carriers including alleged misrepresentations

Digital Television Issues:

Complaints/inquiries concerning digital TV service or the
transition to digital TV

Over-The-Air Reception Devices (OTARD) Issues:

Complaints/inquiries regarding
the installation, maintenance or use of antennas including direct-to-home satellite
dishes that are less than one meter (39.37") in diameter (or of any size in Alaska), TV
antennas, and wireless cable antennas to receive video programming.

Programming Issues:

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

Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act (SHVIA) Issues:

Complaints/inquiries
regarding SHVIA issues

Service Related Issues:

Complaints/inquiries about the quality of service provided by
cable operators or satellite programming distributors


RADIO & TELEVISION BROADCASTING

Broadcast Programming Issues:

Complaints/inquiries related to general over-the-air
programming issues

Carrier Marketing & Advertising:

Complaints/inquiries regarding advertising and
marketing practices of carriers including alleged misrepresentations

Digital Television Issues:

Complaints/inquiries concerning digital TV service or the
transition to digital TV

Disability & Access Related Issues:

Complaints/inquiries regarding video description,
closed captioning, and emergency access to video programming



-3-

Interference:

Complaints/Inquiries regarding unwanted signals from nearby transmitters
to home entertainment electronic equipment

Programming Issues


Indecency/Obscenity: Complaints/inquiries regarding programs that allegedly
contain obscene, indecent or profane material
General Criticism: Generalized concerns regarding the content of programs
Other Programming Issues: Miscellaneous programming issues


WIRELESS TELECOMMUNICATIONS

Billing & Rates Includes the Following Subcategories:


Billing/Rates Airtime Charges:

Complaints/inquiries regarding charges to
subscriber for actual time spent talking on a wireless phone

Billing/Rates Credit/Refunds/Adjustments:

Complaints/inquiries regarding
credits, refunds, or bill adjustments

Billing/Rates Line Items:

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

Billing/Rates Recurring Charges:

Complaints/inquiries over recurring
monthly charges that appear on a customer's bill

Billing/Rates Roaming Rates:

Complaints/inquiries about charges assessed to
the subscriber for wireless calls made while roaming in another carrier's territory

Billing/Rates Rounding:

Complaints/inquiries about the practice of rounding
calls to a full minute

Billing/Rates Service Plan Rate:

Complaints/inquiries about the terms and
conditions of service:
Activation Fee: usually a one-time charge to initiate service
Off-Peak: specified time where per-minute rate is lower
Optional Services: including caller-id, voice mail, road-rescue, etc.
Peak: specified time where per-minute rate is higher
Prepaid Service: subscriber pays for service in advance


-4-
Promo Plan: including minute allowances
Security Deposit: usually a one-time charge that is held by the carrier for a
specified timeframe in order for subscriber to acquire service

Carrier Marketing & Advertising:

Complaints/inquiries regarding advertising and
marketing practices of carriers including alleged misrepresentations

Contract Early Termination:
Complaints/inquiries regarding termination of a
subscriber's service prior to end of specified contract term
Termination of Service by subscriber: subscriber's liability for terminating
service prior to specified contract term
Termination of Service by carrier: carrier's right to disconnect a subscriber's
service prior to end of a specified contract term

Interference:

Inquiries regarding unwanted signals from nearby transmitters to wireless
communications equipment

License Information (General):

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

Service Related Issues:

Complaints/inquiries regarding quality of service or the lack of
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: involving calls that do not go through because of
overcrowding of the service frequencies

Roaming Availability: availability of service outside 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):

Complaints/inquiries regarding compliance
with the TCPA requirements applicable to wireless telecommunications

Tower Related Issues:

Complaints/inquiries involving light outages, paint, posting,
zoning and registration


WIRELINE TELECOMMUNICATIONS

Billing & Rates Includes the Following Subcategories:

Billing/Rates Credit/Refunds/Adjustments:

Complaints/inquiries about credits,


-5-
refunds, or adjustments allegedly owed to the subscriber

Billing/Rates Line Item:

Complaints/inquiries about the line items appearing
on telephone bills

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

Billing/Rates Rates:

Miscellaneous complaints/inquiries about the rates and charges
billed by telephone companies:

Casual Call Billing: rates billed for calls placed from non-public phones
through a carrier who is not the presubscribed carrier for the telephone (or
which does not recognize a telephone number as that of a subscriber)
Double Billing: dispute involving alleged double billing for calls or services
DSL Rate Problem: DSL promotion plan rates allegedly altered or unspecified
to consumer
International Internet Dial-up: international calls (routed to places like Chad,
Madagascar or other countries) that were billed to consumers 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.
International 809# Billing: 809 area code collect call and consumer dialing
scam
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 about
interstate rates and charges



-6-

Billing/Rates Recurring Charges

: Complaints/inquiries about recurring
charges that appear on a customer's bill

Cramming:
Complaints/inquiries about allegedly unauthorized, misleading or deceptive
charges appearing on a telephone bill

Service Quality:
Complaints/inquiries regarding the quality of service provided by telephone
companies:
DSL Service Inadequate: poor quality of service or service outage
Interstate Telecommunications: poor call reception, service outage, 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 carrier including, but not limited to, additional services being
added without the consumer's knowledge or approval, etc.

Slamming:

Complaints/inquiries regarding the practice of changing a subscriber's
telecommunications service provider (or a calling plan) without the subscriber's permission
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 format, such as
sweepstake

Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) Issues:

Complaints/inquiries regarding
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 Issues: Complaints/inquiries dealing with all other aspects of TCPA
except Do Not Call List and Junk Fax

Universal Service Issues:

Complaints/inquiries regarding 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 (CGB)

First Quarter - Calendar Year 2010

January

February

March

Quarter Totals

Cable & Satellite Services


Programming Issues
307
123
220
650
Service Related Issues
176
122
172
470
Over-the-Air Reception Device Issues
162
129
210
501
Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act Issues
224
170
148
542
Billing & Rates Issues
525
455
725
1,705
Totals
1,394
999
1,475
3,868

January

February

March

Quarter Totals

Radio and Television Broadcasting

Disability Issues
58
62
108
228
Carrier Marketing & Advertising
125
82
121
328
Digital Television Issues
213
170
168
551
Interference
449
382
484
1,315
Broadcast Programming Issues
966
744
1,003
2,713
Totals
1,811
1,440
1,884
5,135

January

February

March

Quarter Totals

Wireless Telecommunications

Tower Related Issues
120
101
115
336
Interference
222
171
262
655
Billing & Rates
335
207
348
890
Service Related Issues
428
360
508
1,296
License Information (General)
628
571
754
1,953
Totals
1,733
1,410
1,987
5,130

January

February

March

Quarter Totals

Wireline Telecommunications

Slamming 230
193
239
662
Universal Service Issues
507
388
411
1,306
Billing & Rates
534
481
585
1,600
Cramming 711
631
800
2,142
Telephone Consumer Protection Act Issues
2,067
1,949
2,381
6,397
Totals
4,049
3,642
4,416
12,107

Notes:
* An inquiry is defined as any correspondence or communication received at CGB's Consumer Centers from
individuals seeking information on matters under the FCC's jurisdiction.
(1) See attachment for brief description of subject categories.

(2) The data within this report account for statistics at the national level as reported to the Commission, and therefore
are not necessarily indicative of corresponding state and local trends.
** The inquiries figures in this report represent volume for the categories and sub-categories listed in this report only
and are not inclusive of all inquiries for all categories handled by the FCC.


Summary of Top Complaint * Subjects

Processed by the FCC's Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB)

First Quarter - Calendar Year 2010

January

February

March

Quarter Totals

Cable & Satellite Services

Digital Television Issues
33
25
20
78
Carrier Marketing & Advertising
84
90
94
268
Service Related Issues
127
128
141
396
Billing & Rates Issues
168
173
206
547
Programming Issues
254
188
298
740
Totals
666
604
759
2,029

January

February

March

Quarter Totals

Radio and Television Broadcasting

Carrier Marketing & Advertising
40
43
23
106
Programming - General Criticism
188
100
234
522
Digital Television Issues
235
154
146
535
Other Programming Issues
183
162
257
602
Programming - Indecency/Obscenity**
127,655
1,916
1,080
130,651
Totals
128,301
2,375
1,740
132,416

January

February

March

Quarter Totals

Wireless Telecommunications

Carrier Marketing & Advertising
168
117
105
390
Contract - Early Termination
159
145
143
447
Service Related Issues
285
249
277
811
Billing & Rates
1,242
1,175
1,376
3,793
Telephone Consumer Protection Act
3,873
3,441
3,998
11,312
Totals
5,727
5,127
5,899
16,753

January

February

March

Quarter Totals

Wireline Telecommunications

Service Quality
288
237
321
846
Billing & Rates
1,029
926
1,192
3,147
Telephone Consumer Protection Act-Unsolicited Fax
1,738
1,780
2,113
5,631
Telephone Consumer Protection Act - Do Not Call List
2,639
2,532
2,870
8,041
Telephone Consumer Protection Act -Other Issues
2,773
2,754
3,199
8,726
Totals
8,467
8,229
9,695
26,391

Notes:
* An informal consumer complaint is defined as any correspondence or communication received at CGB's Consumer Centers
either via postal mail, fax, electronic mail (e-mail) 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 -- namely, the top complaint subjects -- and are not inclusive of all complaints handled
by the FCC.
** The number of programming complaints assigned to each of the programming sub-categories is based on 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 reported here reflects complaints received by CGB, complaints received
separately by EB, and complaints e-mailed directly to the offices of the FCC Chairman and the respective offices of the
Commissioners. The reported counts may include duplicate complaints or contacts that subsequently are determined
insufficient to constitute actionable complaints.
(1) See attachment for brief description of subject categories.

(2) The data within this report account for statistics at the national level as reported to the Commission, and therefore are not
necessarily indicative of corresponding state or local trends.


Document Outline

  • 1st Qtr 2010 Exec sum 5-21-10
  • Top Consumer Issues 1st Qtr 2010 5-21-10
  • public report inquiries - 1st qtr 2010 5-21-10 draft
  • public report complaints - 1st qtr 2010 5-21-10

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