New Legislation Will Help Consumers Fight Rising Cable Fees

Experts

Senior Policy Counsel
Associate Director, Strategic Communications

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Rep. Eshoo’s “TRUE Fees Act” Will Make Cable, Internet Pricing More Transparent

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports, today voiced its support for legislation that aims to ensure consumers aren’t surprised by fees in their cable and internet bills and provides protections for consumers who have been wrongfully charged.

The Truth-In-Billing, Remedies, and User Empowerment over Fees (‘TRUE Fees’) Act, sponsored by Rep. Anna Eshoo, would require service providers to advertise the total price of a service, including all fees. The bill would also allow customers to end their contract without early termination fees if the provider increases fees during the term of the contract, prevents arbitrary price hikes on equipment fees unless there is actually an improvement made to the equipment, and prohibits forced arbitration clauses for wrongful billing errors.

“This legislation is simple, straightforward, and effective. The TRUE Fees Act would address the out-of-control fee problem in the telecommunications marketplace and deliver much-needed transparency for cable and internet providers’ unnecessarily-complicated billing practices,” said Jonathan Schwantes, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union. “We’ve heard from more than 100,000 consumers who’ve had enough of cable and internet providers’ surprising, often misleadingly named fees. We thank Representative Eshoo for her leadership to address this growing fee problem, which continues to drive up consumer bills every month. This legislation has the potential to ensure consumer budgets aren’t busted by these unexpected fees, and we urge her colleagues in Congress to support and move this bill forward.”

Earlier this year, Consumer Reports launched its “What the Fee?!” campaign, an organization-wide effort to highlight surprising fees and charges across industries—and help consumers fight back. After asking consumers to share their experiences with add-on fees, the group received an overwhelming amount of complaints about the fees imposed by the cable industry, with Comcast’s Xfinity service receiving the most complaints. Additional add-on charges, such as “broadcast TV fees” and “regional sports fees,” are inflating consumers’ cable bills each month, with some of these fees increasing as much as 50 percent per year. More than 115,000 consumers have signed a petition calling on Comcast, and the entire cable industry,  to eliminate hidden fees and clearly advertise the full price of their service so that consumers can effectively comparison shop.

To learn more about the What the Fee?! campaign and share your own experience with fees, visit www.WhatTheFee.com.