New Poll Shows Consumer Support Building for “Bill Shock” Protection

Experts

Policy Counsel
Senior Director of Federal Policy and the Washington Office

Campaigns

We empower consumers through education and action about communication and media issues involving telephone, cable, Internet and wireless services and equipment.

New Poll Shows Consumer Support Building for “Bill Shock” Protection

NEWS RELEASE

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Contact:  David Butler (dbutler@consumer.org), Kara Kelber (kkelber@consumer.org): 202-462-6262

WASHINGTON, DC – Over 60% of wireless customers with traditional cellular plans would support a government rule to avoid cell phone “bill shock”, according to a new poll released today by Consumers Union, nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports. Such a rule would require mobile network providers to notify customers when they are about to exceed their plan’s allowance in order to avoid overage charges.

The poll also found wide support – 57 percent – for a government rule requiring that wireless providers give their customers the option to have features disabled when they are in danger of exceeding their plan’s allowance. The survey also found that 1 in 5 respondents had received an unexpected charge on a cell phone bill during the past year, with 38% reporting being hit with a charge of $30 or more.

Parul P. Desai, policy counsel for Consumers Union, said, “This new survey makes it clear that the public would back an FCC effort to help fight ‘bill shock.’   Every year, millions of cell phone owners are being caught off guard by overage charges. It’s time to give wireless customers the tools they need to avoid these charges. The FCC needs to adopt its pending Bill Shock rule to ensure consumers are uniformly notified as they approach their usage limits and offer consumers a chance to adjust their plans.”

The results of the survey were filed with the FCC on Wednesday in support of the FCC’s proposed rules.

The Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted a telephone survey using two nationally representative probability samples: landline telephone households and cell phones. 994 interviews were completed among adults aged 18+ who own a cell phone. Interviewing took place over April 28-May 1, 2011. The sampling error is +/- 3.2 percentage points at a 95% confidence level.

For a copy of the survey, please contact David Butler or Kara Kelber at Consumers Union.