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FOURTH QUARTER 2009 REPORT ON INFORMAL CONSUMER INQUIRIES AND COMPLAINTS RELEASED

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Released: August 12, 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 12, 2010




Rosemary Kimball at (202) 418-0511


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


FOURTH QUARTER 2009 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 fourth quarter of calendar year 2009.

2009 Fourth Quarter Inquiries. During this quarter, the total number of inquiries for all
four reported categories decreased more than 7%, from 26,605 in the 3rd quarter of 2009 to
24,496 in the 4th quarter of 2009. Notably, the number of Radio and Television Broadcasting
inquiries decreased nearly 14% from 6,307 in the 3rd quarter of 2009 to 5,449 in the 4th quarter of
2009. The bulk of the Radio and Television Broadcasting inquiries, i.e., more than 53%,
pertained to Broadcast Programming Issues. Wireline inquiries decreased more than 13% from
12,754 in the 3rd quarter of 2009 to 10,979 in the 4th quarter of 2009. Telephone Consumer
Protection Act (TCPA) inquiries constituted more than 54% of the inquiries in this category.
The number of Cable and Satellite Services inquiries increased nearly 8%, as compared to the 3rd
quarter from 3,669 to 3,981. Inquiries regarding Billing and Rates Issues constituted more than
47% of the inquiries in this category. Wireless inquiries increased more than 5% from 3,875 in
the 3rd quarter of 2009 to 4,087 in the 4th quarter of 2009.

2009 Fourth Quarter Complaints. During this quarter, complaints in the reported
categories decreased more than 14%, from 62,660 in the 3rd quarter of 2009 to 53,661 in the 4th
quarter of 2009. In this regard, there was a notable increase in the Radio and Television
Broadcasting category, where complaints increased from 6,700 in the 3rd quarter of 2009 to
9,740 in the 4th quarter of 2009 an increase of more than 45%. Cable & Satellite Services
complaints decreased 36% from 2,910 in the 3rd quarter of 2009 to 1,851 in the 4th quarter of
2009. Further, Wireless Telecommunications complaints decreased 10% from 18,125 in the 3rd
quarter of 2009 to 16,145 in the 4th quarter of 2009. TCPA issues comprised nearly 71% of the
complaints in this category. Wireline Telecommunications complaints decreased by over 25% in
the 4th quarter of 2009 to 25,925 from 34,925 in the 3rd 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 85% 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

4th Quarter Calendar Year 2009

Executive Summary




This report tracks the top subject areas for consumer inquiries and complaints received
during the 4th quarter of calendar year 2009 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.

2009 Fourth Quarter Inquiries. During this quarter, the total number of inquiries for all
four reported categories decreased more than 7%, from 26,605 in the 3rd quarter of 2009 to
24,496 in the 4th quarter of 2009. Notably, the number of Radio and Television Broadcasting
inquiries decreased nearly 14% from 6,307 in the 3rd quarter of 2009 to 5,449 in the 4th quarter of
2009. The bulk of the Radio and Television Broadcasting inquiries, i.e., more than 53%,
pertained to Broadcast Programming Issues. Wireline inquiries decreased more than 13% from
12,754 in the 3rd quarter of 2009 to 10,979 in the 4th quarter of 2009. Telephone Consumer
Protection Act (TCPA) inquiries constituted more than 54% of the inquiries in this category.
The number of Cable and Satellite Services inquiries increased nearly 8%, as compared to the 3rd
quarter from 3,669 to 3,981. Inquiries regarding Billing and Rates Issues constituted more than
47% of the inquiries in this category. Wireless inquiries increased more than 5% from 3,875 in
the 3rd quarter of 2009 to 4,087 in the 4th quarter of 2009.

2009 Fourth Quarter Complaints. During this quarter, complaints in the reported
categories decreased more than 14%, from 62,660 in the 3rd quarter of 2009 to 53,661 in the 4th
quarter of 2009. In this regard, there was a notable increase in the Radio and Television
Broadcasting category, where complaints increased from 6,700 in the 3rd quarter of 2009 to
9,740 in the 4th quarter of 2009 an increase of more than 45%. Cable & Satellite Services
complaints decreased 36% from 2,910 in the 3rd quarter of 2009 to 1,851 in the 4th quarter of
2009. Further, Wireless Telecommunications complaints decreased 10% from 18,125 in the 3rd
quarter of 2009 to 16,145 in the 4th quarter of 2009. TCPA issues comprised nearly 71% of the
complaints in this category. Wireline Telecommunications complaints decreased by over 25% in
the 4th quarter of 2009 to 25,925 from 34,925 in the 3rd 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 85% 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


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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 October 1, 2009 to December 31, 2009. 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

4th Quarter Calendar Year 2009

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)

Fourth Quarter - Calendar Year 2009

October

November December

Quarter Totals

Cable & Satellite Services


Programming Issues
162
134
119
415
Service Related Issues
189
147
153
489
Over-the-Air Reception Device Issues
183
189
157
529
Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act Issues
247
230
199
676
Billing & Rates Issues
735
560
577
1,872
Totals
1,516
1,260
1,205
3,981

October

November December

Quarter Totals

Radio and Television Broadcasting

Disability Issues
121
83
71
275
Carrier Marketing & Advertising
97
110
143
350
Digital Television Issues
291
260
190
741
Interference
352
490
339
1,181
Broadcast Programming Issues
1,098
950
854
2,902
Totals
1,959
1,893
1,597
5,449

October

November December

Quarter Totals

Wireless Telecommunications

Tower Related Issues
115
94
89
298
Interference
227
73
175
475
Billing & Rates
235
231
253
719
Service Related Issues
425
355
339
1,119
License Information (General)
551
447
478
1,476
Totals
1,553
1,200
1,334
4,087

October

November December

Quarter Totals

Wireline Telecommunications

Slamming 203
156
180
539
Universal Service Issues
483
381
369
1,233
Billing & Rates
555
424
444
1,423
Cramming 663
575
578
1,816
Telephone Consumer Protection Act Issues
2,274
1,944
1,750
5,968
Totals
4,178
3,480
3,321
10,979

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)

Fourth Quarter - Calendar Year 2009

October

November December

Quarter Totals

Cable & Satellite Services

Digital Television Issues
42
39
15
96
Carrier Marketing & Advertising
90
72
55
217
Service Related Issues
139
112
149
400
Billing & Rates Issues
151
157
139
447
Programming Issues
243
231
217
691
Totals
665
611
575
1,851

October

November December

Quarter Totals

Radio and Television Broadcasting

Carrier Marketing & Advertising
51
58
51
160
Programming - General Criticism
121
345
97
563
Other Programming Issues
283
650
221
1,154
Digital Television Issues
782
359
247
1,388
Programming - Indecency/Obscenity**
516
5,215
744
6,475
Totals
1,753
6,627
1,360
9,740

October

November December

Quarter Totals

Wireless Telecommunications

Contract - Early Termination
136
119
128
383
Carrier Marketing & Advertising
127
130
150
407
Service Related Issues
320
254
271
845
Billing & Rates
1,004
967
1,097
3,068
Telephone Consumer Protection Act
4,214
3,503
3,725
11,442
Totals
5,801
4,973
5,371
16,145

October

November December

Quarter Totals

Wireline Telecommunications

Service Quality
234
218
261
713
Billing & Rates
1,133
953
970
3,056
Telephone Consumer Protection Act-Unsolicited Fax
2,182
1,816
1,655
5,653
Telephone Consumer Protection Act - Do Not Call List
2,934
2,328
2,427
7,689
Telephone Consumer Protection Act -Other Issues
3,318
2,845
2,651
8,814
Totals
9,801
8,160
7,964
25,925

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

  • 4th Qtr 2009 Exec sum 2-18-10
  • Top Consumer Issues 4th Qtr 2009 2-23-10
  • public report inquiries - 4th qtr 2009 2-18-10 draft
  • public report complaints - 4th qtr 2009 2-18-10 draft

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