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McDowell on Wireless Carrier Usage Alerts to Prevent Bill Shock

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Released: October 17, 2012

STATEMENT OF

COMMISSIONER ROBERT M. McDOWELL

Re:

Wireless Carrier Usage Alerts to Prevent Bill Shock

(October 17, 2012)
I congratulate Chairman Genachowski, the staff of the Consumer and
Governmental Affairs Bureau, and the folks at CTIA and their members and
Consumers Union on your important effort to help to protect consumers
from unexpected charges on wireless bills. This success story is the result of
an ongoing effort between the Commission and the private sector. I have
long held that cooperative efforts, rather than forced mandates, yield the best
results. Today we see that this approach ensures that the government will
not inadvertently interfere with, or add unnecessary costs to, the
development of innovative and useful tools that help consumers manage
their wireless usage.
An October 2010 white paper released by the Consumer and
Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB) staff states that the Commission had
received 764 “bill shock” complaints in the first six months of 2010. The
CGB’s records, available on the Commission’s website, indicate that the
agency received 416 such complaints in the fourth quarter of 2010.
According to the website, this was the only quarter in which “bill shock”
complaints were reported. It is also worth noting that both prior to and since
2010, “bill shock” complaints apparently did not amount to a level that CGB
felt it should list and none are listed on the website.

I am pleased that, as of today, approximately 96 percent of America’s
wireless consumers, or about 312 million people, are protected by a private
sector solution from receiving unexpected charges on their bills. This result
was produced without a government mandate, which provides us with a
model for future non-governmental solutions to the challenges faced by
American consumers. Again, thank you to everyone here at the
Commission, and to the wireless service providers and consumer groups that
worked to make this project a success.

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