Some interesting developments since my last post.
I was contacted yesterday by Roger Goldblatt of the FCC, who asked to take part in a press conference in Washington next Wednesday and speak about “Bill Shock.” (There’s more information about the FCC event at the bottom of this post.) I don’t think I’ll be able to go, but it’s fascinating—or scary?-- that my blog got into the hands of the FCC within days, don’t you think? I think it’s most likely because Andrew Sullivan linked it. I hope that I will be able to contribute to the FCC’s effort in some way. There should be laws against phone companies selling a few cents of data for thousands of dollars.
I haven’t been near my computer lately so I wasn’t able to approve a lot of comments about my first post. Apparently this was ALL MY FAULT. I could have found out all the info on the internet. The fact that AT&T lied to me on tape is fine. The fact that they only sell a maximum of 200MB of data in their international plan—nowhere near enough to have met my needs—that’s all fine. Granted, my needs were very specific and few people would have my specific data requirements. And if I had only been able to work in rooms that had wifi my bill would have been much lower. But it would still have been outrageous.
Apparently if a multi-billion dollar corporation wants to sell two cents of data for hundreds of dollars that is peachy. Let the buyer beware and do a lot of browsing. Or stay home.
That same day I received a phone call from AT&T just as I was sitting down to lunch with a client. The operator informed me that he was going to shut down my phone service that instant if I didn’t pay my bill immediately. I said that was impossible, as I wasn’t anywhere near my computer. He also said I had to pay the bill I hadn’t received yet in advance or he would turn off my phone service. I said I’d pay everything that night. He wanted to know what time and how I would pay and how long it would take for the transfer to kick in, etc. I thought to myself, okay, maybe I had forgotten the due date and, as I had to pay this bill anyway, I would do it tonight. When I got home I discovered that my bill was due on October 11th, five days away. Why was I being threatened with instantaneous loss of service for a bill that wasn’t due yet? Not to mention a bill I hadn’t even received yet?
AT&T confirmed that this call did come from them. They had the name of the operator who called me at that time. Of course his report on the call differed completely from mine.
Am I paranoid or did this threatening phone call come because of the way my blog post has been tearing through the internet?
Postscript: Here’s more information on the FCC Press Conference
Avoiding Cell Phone Bill Shock
October 13, 2010, 12:00pm – 1:00pm
Click here to watch the event live.
About This Event
Cell phones, smart phones, and other mobile devices are increasingly an essential part of Americans' everyday lives. But as minutes, messages, and megabytes quickly add up, avoiding "bill shock"—a sudden, unexpected increase in your monthly mobile bill—can be a challenge. According to a recent survey by the Federal Communications Commission, one in six mobile users—30 million Americans—have experienced bill shock. More than half those consumers saw an increase of $50 or more, but few were alerted by their mobile phone company—before or after the bill arrived.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski will join Sarah Rosen Wartell from the Center for American Progress to discuss his consumer agenda, including the proactive steps that the agency is taking to empower consumers with simple solutions for avoiding bill shock. At the event, the chairman will outline the findings of a new FCC paper on bill shock and hear directly from consumers who have experienced an unexpected increase in their mobile bills.
Julius Genachowski, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission
Sarah Rosen Wartell, Executive Vice President, Center for American Progress
A light lunch will be served at 11:30 a.m.
Click here to RSVP for this event
For more information, call 202-682-1611
Center for American Progress
1333 H St. NW, 10th Floor
Washington, DC 20005
Map & Directions
Nearest Metro: Blue/Orange Line to McPherson Square or Red Line to Metro Center