Carriers move to eliminate bill shock

Posted by Emma Woollacott

The CTIA wireless association is today expected to announce new billing practices designed to help consumers avoid 'bill shock'.

New guidelines call on companies to send alerts to customers as they get close to monthly limits for voice, texts and data, and to warn them of international roaming charges.

The Federal Communications Commission has been considering imposing  very similar rules. In a survey last year, it found that as many as one in six cellphone subscribers in the US have found unexpected charges on their bills. In nealry a quarter of cases, these amounted to $100 or more.

The new initiative is similar to that adopted in the EU last year. This sees customers alerted when their bill reaches 80 percent of a pre-set rate.

The CTIA had been fighting the FCC proposals, claiming that the extra bureaucracy could lead to higher bills. Preswumably, it's seen the writing on the wall.

According to Reuters, the FCC will now stop working on its own plans to eliminate bill shock, but will leave proceedings open in case carriers fail to deliver.

The new guidelines call on them to provide at least two of the four alerts within 12 months and the whole caboodle - voice, text, data and roaming - within the next 18 months.