FCC Deal Will Save Us from Cellphone Bill Shock The gradual addition of extra fees to your cellphone bill can be a bit like gaining weight -- you don't keep close enough track of your habits, until one day you open your bill (or step on the scale), see a discouragingly high number, and experience "bill shock."

While the government may not be able to prevent the expansion of our waistlines, it's stepping in to help consumers avoid what the Federal Communications Commission describes as a "sudden and unexpected increase in monthly bills that is not caused by a change in service plans."

Thanks to an agreement reached on Monday, within a year, wireless providers will begin providing consumers advanced warning that they are nearing their usage limits and will soon begin incurring extra fees. According to The New York Times, "Companies have the option to deliver alerts by text or voice, but they must be free and automatic. Consumers can opt out of the service if they choose. At least two of the four types of alerts must be started by carriers within 12 months, and all alerts must begin within 18 months."

"The companies also agreed to publicize tools for consumers to monitor their own usage. The F.C.C. has teamed with the nonprofit Consumers Union to track companies' compliance," the newspaper continued.

Most wireless contracts -- whether for your cellphone, your iPad or another tablet device -- charge a set monthly fee for limited usage -- a certain number of phone minutes, a maximum number of text messages, and (usually) a set number of gigabytes of Internet data access. Exceed those limits, and your provider charges a hefty fee for each extra minute, text or megabyte of data you use. Those charges can quickly add up, and though most providers offer consumers a way to track their usage, most people don't monitor it. Hence, the bill shock.

It's a common problem. According to a 2010 study by the FCC, one in six mobile device users have experienced surprisingly high bills, and of those, 23% reported extra charges of at least $100. In some instances, these unexpected fees exceeded a whopping $1,000. In one case, a 66-year-old Massachusetts retiree was hit was a ludicrous $18,000 bill after the promotional plan she'd signed up for -- which included unlimited Internet access -- expired without warning.

While an $18,000 bill is extreme, it's easy to understand how bills can creep upward. Tablets like the iPad are becoming more common, increasing overall wireless usage. At the same time, as consumers grow more comfortable with mobile devices, we are using them for more things, including downloading music and books, and streaming movies and television shows, which can quickly sap your monthly data plan. It's easy to forget to check whether or not you have the minutes left to finish The Departed when Leonardo DiCaprio is starting to figure out just what's happening with the police.

Soon you won't have to: Your provider will remind you instead. In this current political environment, when the airwaves are saturated with tales of everything the federal government is doing wrong, this FCC agreement stands out as an example of the government's ability to protect consumers, each and every one of us.

To learn more about bill shock, and what you can do to prevent it, click here. Loren Berlin is a reporter with the AOL Huffington Post Media Group. She can be reached at loren.berlin@teamaol.com, on Twitter at @LorenBerlin, and on Facebook.

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I did not know this…did you?

Propose this in 2012:



(This is worth reading. It is short and to the point.)

Perhaps we are asking the wrong questions during election years.

Our Senators and Congresswomen do not pay into Social Security and, of course, they do not collect from it.

You see, Social Security benefits were not suitable for persons of their rare elevation in society. They felt they should have a special plan for themselves So, many years ago they voted in their own benefit plan.

In more recent years, no congress person has felt the need to change it. After all, it is a great plan.

For all practical purposes their plan works like this:

When they retire, they continue to draw the same pay until they die.
Except it may increase from time to time for cost of living adjustments. .....

For example, Senator Byrd and Congressman White and their wives may expect to draw $7, 800,000.00 (that's Seven Million, Eight-Hundred Thousand Dollars), with their wives drawing $275, 000..00 during the last years of their lives.
This is calculated on an average life span for each of those Dignitaries.

Younger Dignitaries who retire at an early age, will receive much more during the rest of their lives.

Their cost for this excellent plan to them is $0.00. NADA!!! ZILCH!!!

This little perk they voted for themselves is free to them. You and I pick up the tab for this plan. The funds for this fine retirement plan come directly from the General Funds;


From our own Social Security Plan, which you and I pay (or have paid) into, every payday until we retire (which amount is matched by our employer), We can expect to get an average of
$1,000 per month after retirement.

Or, in other words, we would have to collect our average of $1,000 monthly benefits for 68 years and one (1) month to equal Senator Bill Bradley's benefits!

Social Security could be very good if only one small change were made.

That change would be to

Jerk the Golden Fleece Retirement Plan from under the Senators and Congressmen. Put them into the Social Security plan with the rest of us
Then sit back....

And see how fast they would fix it!

If enough people receive this, maybe a seed of awareness will be planted and maybe good changes will evolve.

How many people can YOU send this to?

Better yet......
How many people WILL you send this to ?

2 012 is an election year for 1/3 of the senate and 1/2 of the house of representatives. It would be nice if congress got the message; the voting taxpayers are in charge now.
Social Security



October 18 2011 at 10:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Why not just get a Track Phone and buy time cards has you need them.

October 18 2011 at 9:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Cell Phone Companies, just like Cable TV providers, "too big to fail" Banks, Oil Companies, Electric power providers, etc, etc, etc, will continue to financially "rape" the general public on charges and fees becasue they have proven, time and time again, that they are incapable of "policing" themselves yet have been deregulated and given free reign over what they want to d and, consequently, CAN do. The good news is, there ARE options. I have a prepaid cell phone that I pay for as I use...I control the bill...not anybody else. There are NO surprises. It may not have all the bells and whistles of an IPhone. but I don't need to be in 24/7 contact with ANYONE!

October 18 2011 at 9:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The FCC should also stop any all contracts with phone service.. This is not right.. If I want to change carriers no matter the phone, I should be able to.. They charge you to get out of contract and the chip in the phone to change...

October 18 2011 at 8:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

When oh when will individuals be responsible for their expenditures. Another big brother intrusion into our private lives


October 18 2011 at 7:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to lo2hi's comment

Exactly, if you're too stupid to stay on top of things yourself then shut up and pay up. Ye God this is the dumbest generation of Americans yet. We're doomed.

October 18 2011 at 8:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

big brother wants you to have all these ""devices"" right on your "person" and they're tooooooo stupid to understand this -

October 18 2011 at 8:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

what gives the majot companies to have a contact for 2 years ? , they are not giving you anything for it the smaller companies give you a great price with not contract

October 18 2011 at 6:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to doublexxpoker's comment

morons should dump these bs phones and contracts and get those trak phones WITH NO CONTRACTS,no ""devices"" and waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay cheaper--but these so

October 18 2011 at 8:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Last year the Supreme Court ruled that corporations have the same free speech rights to use their money to elect a candidate as an individual.

As one OWSer said: "I will believe that a corporation is a person when Texas executes one."

October 17 2011 at 9:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to freeetob's comment

so HOW DO THE UNIONS dump funding directly to the DNC ? are these UNIONS CLAIMING THESE multimillion ""donations"" ARE VOLUNTARILY SENT BY THE MEMBERS ? BS.

October 18 2011 at 8:30 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Why are they surprised? Their phone already keeps track of their minutes for them. Are they .....eeeerrrr.... Mentally challenged or just CLYDE's?

October 17 2011 at 7:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Garrett Burke

I think this is a good thing. As much as I am an advocate of personal responsibility, and I agree that in most cases "bill shock" is the customers own fault... it just doesn't make any sense for a carrier to charge two people who have the exact same usage two different rates. What I am talking about is say, for example, one person is on a $99.99 unlimited plan and talks 1,000 minutes. Another person is on a 450 minute plan for $39.99 and talks 1000 minutes. At .40 per minute overage that comes out to $39.99 + $549.60 ...

The same thing applies for data and text plans... the overages are ridiculous. If someone goes over their limit then the carrier should allow them to either a) pay the overages or b) switch to the next plan up ... people just can't afford to pay hundreds of dollars unexpectedly and not everyone is smart enough to understand the ins and outs of cell plans to avoid these types of things from happening.

Not to mention cell phone reps can be very shady when trying to sell customers things because they are almost all on commissions or get some kind of bonus if certain sales goals are reached, so you could very well end up being confused or even straight out lied to by a rep that is just out to get commission money at your expense... ending in overages. Always check your plan out online after visiting any cell phone store to make sure it's the way it should be.

I know this because I used to work for Sprint and shady stuff went on all the time. I have friends who work for other carriers and it doesn't matter where you go, as long as the commissions are there some dishonest sales people will follow the money.

October 17 2011 at 6:53 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

A couple of years ago we switched to Consumer Cellular and I cut my cell phone bills in less than half. I was using US Cellular. I don't have any interest in the company, but I do like to see people save money. Good luck.

October 17 2011 at 3:43 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply