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Report of Consumer Inquiries and Complaints for Q3 2010

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Released: August 15, 2011

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 15, 2011




Rosemary Kimball at (202) 418-0511


e-mail: rosemary.kimball@fcc.gov


QUARTERLY REPORT OF INFORMAL CONSUMER INQUIRIES AND

COMPLAINTS FOR THIRD QUARTER OF CALENDAR YEAR 2010 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 third quarter of calendar year 2010.

2010 Third Quarter Inquiries. During the third quarter of 2010, the overall number of
inquiries for the top four reported inquiry categories decreased by more than 28% from the
number received and processed by CGB during the previous quarter, from 24,871 during the
second quarter of 2010, to 17,782. The number of Cable and Satellite Services inquiries
decreased by nearly 32%, from 3,184 to 2,614. Inquiries regarding Billing and Rates Issues
constituted more than 48% of the inquiries in this category during the third quarter. The number
of Radio and Television Broadcasting inquiries decreased by nearly 29%, from 4,883 to 3,490.
The bulk of these inquiries (more than 56%), pertained to broadcast programming issues.
Wireless Telecommunications inquiries decreased by more than 27%, from 4,527 to 3,282.
Wireline Telecommunications inquiries decreased more by than 31%, from 12,277 to 8,396, with
Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) matters constituting more than 61% of the third
quarter inquiries in this category.

2010 Third Quarter Complaints. During the third quarter of 2010, the overall number of
complaints in the top four reported categories decreased by more than 30% from those received
and processed during the second quarter of 2010, from 69,064 to 47,947. Cable & Satellite
Services complaints decreased by nearly 3%, from 1,624 to 1,581. There was a notable decrease
in the Radio and Television Broadcasting category, in which complaints decreased from 25,162
to 2,611, a drop of more than 89%. This decrease appears to be attributable to a substantial
volume of complaints received during the second quarter that were a product of campaigns
against particular programs. Wireless Telecommunications complaints increased by nearly 10%,
from 16,441 to 18,064, with TCPA issues comprising nearly 73% of the third quarter complaints
in this category. Wireline Telecommunications complaints decreased by nearly 1%, from 25,837
to 25,691, with TCPA-Other Issues, Do Not Call List and Unsolicited Faxes constituting the top
categories of Wireline complaints which, when combined, constituted over 85% of the Wireline
complaints in the reported subcategories during the third 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 third quarter
Report, as well as previous reports on informal consumer inquiries and complaints, can be
http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/quarter/welcome.html">viewed at: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/quarter/welcome.html.


- FCC -



REPORT OF INFORMAL CONSUMER INQUIRIES AND COMPLAINTS

Third Quarter, Calendar Year 2010

Executive Summary




This Report tracks the top subject areas of consumer inquiries and complaints received
and processed during the third quarter of calendar year 2010 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.

2010 Third Quarter Inquiries. During the third quarter of 2010, the overall number of
inquiries for the top four reported inquiry categories decreased by more than 28% from the
number received and processed by CGB during the previous quarter, from 24,871 during the
second quarter of 2010, to 17,782. The number of Cable and Satellite Services inquiries
decreased by nearly 32%, from 3,184 to 2,614. Inquiries regarding Billing and Rates Issues
constituted more than 48% of the inquiries in this category during the third quarter. The number
of Radio and Television Broadcasting inquiries decreased by nearly 29%, from 4,883 to 3,490.
The bulk of these inquiries (more than 56%), pertained to broadcast programming issues.
Wireless Telecommunications inquiries decreased by more than 27%, from 4,527 to 3,282.
Wireline Telecommunications inquiries decreased more by than 31%, from 12,277 to 8,396, with
Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) matters constituting more than 61% of the third
quarter inquiries in this category.

2010 Third Quarter Complaints. During the third quarter of 2010, the overall number of
complaints in the top four reported categories decreased by more than 30% from those received
and processed during the second quarter of 2010, from 69,064 to 47,947. Cable & Satellite
Services complaints decreased by nearly 3%, from 1,624 to 1,581. There was a notable decrease
in the Radio and Television Broadcasting category, in which complaints decreased from 25,162
to 2,611, a drop of more than 89%. This decrease appears to be attributable to a substantial
volume of complaints received during the second quarter that were a product of campaigns
against particular programs. Wireless Telecommunications complaints increased by nearly 10%,
from 16,441 to 18,064, with TCPA issues comprising nearly 73% of the third quarter complaints
in this category. Wireline Telecommunications complaints decreased by nearly 1%, from 25,837
to 25,691, with TCPA-Other Issues, Do Not Call List and Unsolicited Faxes constituting the top
categories of Wireline complaints which, when combined, constituted over 85% of the Wireline
complaints in the reported subcategories during the third 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 third quarter
Report, as well as previous reports on informal consumer inquiries and complaints, 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
during the period from July 1 to September 30, 2010. 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

Third Quarter, Calendar Year 2010

Top Consumer Issues Subject Category Reference Guide















CABLE & SATELLITE SERVICES

Billing & Rates:
billing and rates charged for program service

Provider Marketing & Advertising:

provider advertising and marketing practices,
including alleged misrepresentations

Digital Television:

digital TV service or the transition to digital TV

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

Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act (SHVIA):

SHVIA matters

Service:

quality of service provided

RADIO & TELEVISION BROADCASTING

Station Marketing & Advertising:

station advertising and marketing practices,
including alleged misrepresentations

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)
General Criticisms: non-specific concerns regarding programming content





- 3 -

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

Bill Shock:
sudden unexpected increase in the monthly wireless bill, even when the
subscriber has not changed service plans

Carrier Marketing & 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

- 4 -

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

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
- 5 -

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

Recurring Charges

: recurring charges that appear on a subscriber's bill

Cramming:
unauthorized, misleading or deceptive charges appearing 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)
- 6 -

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 Topics

Processed by the FCC's Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau

Third Quarter - Calendar Year 2010

July

August

September Quarter Totals

Cable & Satellite Services


Programming 63
107
80
250
Service 91
100
79
270
Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act
104
122
134
360
Over-the-Air Reception Devices
140
171
154
465
Billing & Rates
470
426
373
1,269
Totals
868
926
820
2,614

July

August

September Quarter Totals

Radio and Television Broadcasting

Disability & Access
61
83
46
190
Station Marketing & Advertising
81
91
86
258
Digital Television
118
119
102
339
Interference
229
277
215
721
Programming 703
631
648
1,982
Totals
1,192
1,201
1,097
3,490

July

August

September Quarter Totals

Wireless Telecommunications

Tower
69
74
63
206
Interference
98
101
147
346
Billing & Rates
197
215
223
635
License Information (General)
288
271
317
876
Service 406
429
384
1,219
Totals
1,058
1,090
1,134
3,282

July

August

September Quarter Totals

Wireline Telecommunications

Slamming 140
138
123
401
Cramming 237
289
263
789
Access-Universal Service
252
320
368
940
Billing & Rates
369
371
333
1,073
Telephone Consumer Protection Act
1,650
1,756
1,787
5,193
Totals
2,648
2,874
2,874
8,396

Notes:
* A consumer inquiry is defined as any correspondence or communication received at a Consumer and Governmental
Affairs Bureau Consumer Center via U.S. mail, fax, e-mail, the Internet or telephone from or on behalf of an individual
seeking information regarding a matter under the FCC's jurisdiction.

**See attachment for a 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 and local trends.
****The inquiry figures in this Report represent volume only for the categories and sub-categories listed and are not
inclusive of all inquiries for all categories handled by the FCC.


Summary of Top Consumer Complaint Topics

Processed by the FCC's Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau

Third Quarter - Calendar Year 2010

July

August

September Quarter Totals

Cable & Satellite Services

Digital Television
18
20
15
53
Provider Marketing & Advertising
80
70
47
197
Service
128
157
127
412
Billing & Rates
178
144
137
459
Programming 190
146
124
460
Totals
594
537
450
1,581

July

August

September Quarter Totals

Radio and Television Broadcasting

Interference
47
35
45
127
Digital Television
111
95
82
288
Programming - General Criticisms
114
79
95
288
Other Programming
411
268
271
950
Programming - Indecency/Obscenity
302
271
385
958
Totals
985
748
878
2,611

July

August

September Quarter Totals

Wireless Telecommunications

Contract - Early Termination of Service
150
124
145
419
Equipment
182
144
179
505
Service
296
334
294
924
Billing & Rates
979
1,025
957
2,961
Telephone Consumer Protection Act
4,208
4,667
4,380
13,255
Totals
5,815
6,294
5,955
18,064

July

August

September Quarter Totals

Wireline Telecommunications

Service Quality
278
333
312
923
Billing & Rates
965
1,034
866
2,865
Telephone Consumer Protection Act-Unsolicited Fax
1,489
1,878
1,774
5,141
Telephone Consumer Protection Act - Do Not Call List
2,473
2,718
2,568
7,759
Telephone Consumer Protection Act -Other
2,844
3,201
2,958
9,003
Totals
8,049
9,164
8,478
25,691

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 broadcasting 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.


Document Outline

  • 3rd Qtr 2010 Exec sum 4-13-11
  • Top Consumer Issues 3rd Qtr 2010(3-2-11)
  • public report inquiries - 3rd qtr 2010 3-2-11 draft
  • public report complaints - 3rd qtr 2010 4-13-11

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