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Shocking phone-bill horror stories motivate regulators
Yahoo ^ | 10/14/10 | Liz Goodwin

Posted on 10/14/2010 5:43:00 PM PDT by jerry557

Kerfye Pierre's thanks for helping out victims of Haiti's earthquake? A $35,000 bill from T-Mobile.

Pierre tells CNN that she racked up about $35,000 while texting family and friends from Haiti with the news that she had just survived the devastating earthquake. T-Mobile offered to waive voice plans for Americans who were volunteering there after the crippling disaster, but Pierre said she didn't realize that the waiver didn't include text messages.

The company has now reduced her bill to approximately $5,000, but Pierre says she still can't pay that.

"I would be OK to pay for it if everything was disclosed, and I knew upfront that, if I used this part of the service, I would be charged," she told CNN. "But I did not know."

The FCC voted today to explore the issue of cell-phone-bill sticker shock, and will decide whether cell-phone companies must do a better job of informing customers when they are about to be charged extra for text and data charges. The FCC may rule that companies must send text-message alerts to customers when they reach their plan's data limits or are incurring roaming charges.

According to the Washington Post, two Republican commissioners voiced concerns that the rules could raise costs for the cell-phone companies -- and that such costs would then translate into more expensive plans for customers.

An FCC survey found that millions of Americans have suffered some kind of "bill shock" from a cell-phone bill. Film publicist Reid Rosefelt, for instance, went to Canada for five days for a film festival and returned with a $1,723 bill from AT&T. He said he received no email or text telling him he was using excessive data on his phone, and that he didn't know how to turn off data services to avoid the charges.

(Excerpt) Read more at news.yahoo.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: law; phone; technology

1 posted on 10/14/2010 5:43:06 PM PDT by jerry557
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To: jerry557

They should do a better job, but the other question is why they are charging such insane rates in the first place. T Mobile is particularly bad, IMHO.

We need more competition in this market.


2 posted on 10/14/2010 5:48:03 PM PDT by livius
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To: livius
but the other question is why they are charging such insane rates in the first place. T Mobile is particularly bad, IMHO.

It's part of their business model: get people to buy the service for the cheap "base" rates, then massively escalate the charges for going beyond the "base" threshold. "Base" is used as a loss-leader.
3 posted on 10/14/2010 5:53:15 PM PDT by tanknetter
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To: jerry557

Text messaging is the biggest ripoff ever conceived. (Well, after Social Security and Global Warming.) Voice connections are one or two cents a minute, and you get several kHz of bandwidth, so you could transmit about a thousand bytes, times sixty seconds, or 60 kB, for one or two pennies. In contrast, a message comprising two dozen bytes, costs twenty five cents, or one cent per byte - 60,000 times more expensive.

Just say no to text messaging.


4 posted on 10/14/2010 5:54:21 PM PDT by coloradan (The US has become a banana republic, except without the bananas - or the republic.)
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To: livius

“We need more competition in this market.”

Only so many towers exist. And the current political (zoning and NIMBY) climate makes erecting new towers almost impossible.


5 posted on 10/14/2010 5:54:31 PM PDT by George from New England (Escaped CT in 2006, now living north of Tampa)
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To: jerry557

This is incredible.
When I was last in the USA, I was the first BellSouth agent in my county. I knew mobile service was expensive then, and all applicants had to pass a credit check just to get on the system, but I sold out and left to USA for good in 2004.

In central Europe, my first foreign home, people text all day long for very little money, and here in the Philippines, young girls spend their entire day texting each other, and these girls barely have 2 pesos (2 cents) to rub together.
It is rare to find anyone here between age 15 and 40 that does not have a hand held, pecking away all day.


6 posted on 10/14/2010 6:09:27 PM PDT by AlexW
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To: jerry557
Well; let's see....the Taxpayers are already funding free phones for the hip-hoppers in the inner-cities, so now we can pay for their cellphone/TM excesses to their crack dealers too?

Is this a great country, or what?

7 posted on 10/14/2010 6:10:24 PM PDT by traditional1 ("Don't gotsta worry 'bout no mo'gage, don't gotsta worry 'bout no gas; Obama go:nna take care o' me!)
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To: traditional1

Is this a great country, or what?”

I would suspect there are many of us around from the pre-cellphone, pre-texting era who are living, walking, breathing testimony to the fact that it is quite possible to survive quite well without being co-dependent on either or both.


8 posted on 10/14/2010 6:17:23 PM PDT by Grams A (The Sun will rise in the East in the morning and God is still on his throne.)
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To: jerry557

Doesn’t anyone read the fine print anymore?

Caveat emptor.


9 posted on 10/14/2010 6:21:09 PM PDT by Mears
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To: livius

That’s not how they operate. Any money even stealing money from pay per whatever phones which seems to contradict what their commercials say.


10 posted on 10/14/2010 6:22:54 PM PDT by freekitty (Give me back my conservative vote; then find me a real conservative to vote for)
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To: jerry557

At $1.00 per text message, she would have to send or receive an average of one text message every 1.24 minutes, every minute of every hour of every day for 30 days.


11 posted on 10/14/2010 6:25:45 PM PDT by Labyrinthos
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To: jerry557

I’m on dial-up right now and I own no cell phone. Upstairs is a rotary phone from the 1940’s.

Color me plugged in, aware, and fiscally solvent.


12 posted on 10/14/2010 6:28:20 PM PDT by WorkingClassFilth
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To: Grams A
"many of us around from the pre-cellphone, pre-texting era who are living, walking, breathing testimony to the fact that it is quite possible to survive quite well without being co-dependent on either or both."

Yeah; I'm one of THOSE, but I like the cellphone that I PAY FOR; but I refuse TM's and don't care for that. Email works good, though.

13 posted on 10/14/2010 6:29:57 PM PDT by traditional1 ("Don't gotsta worry 'bout no mo'gage, don't gotsta worry 'bout no gas; Obama go:nna take care o' me!)
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To: jerry557

Verizon sends me a free text message whenever I’m about to hit my free limits and start getting charged for overages. In my more than 12 years with Verizon, I’ve never had a billing problem they didn’t correct, and I’ve only had a handful of those.


14 posted on 10/14/2010 6:32:44 PM PDT by IYAS9YAS (Liberalism can be summed up thusly: someone craps their pants and we all have to wear diapers)
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To: jerry557

Prepaid unlimited talk and text is widely available for under $45/mo. The same idiots that experience cell-bill shock are the same ones that brought on the foreclosure crisis.

Folks really should read the fine print.


15 posted on 10/14/2010 6:49:17 PM PDT by wrench
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To: jerry557

Network overhead between your phone and the tower is way more than the 160 characters you are allowed per text message. Unless you’re attaching large media files which only certain phones allow, text-only messages should be free. It’s really just noise on the carrier’s capacity and free money for the carrier.


16 posted on 10/14/2010 6:57:14 PM PDT by mikey_hates_everything
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To: Mears

There is LOTS of fine print. Everything you touch these days has some corporate lawyer posted pages and pages of fine print on it.

Screw all the fine print, just tell us the deal is in plain English. Fine print is no more that “depends on what the meaning of IS is”.


17 posted on 10/14/2010 7:03:36 PM PDT by dusttoyou (Let the other side get all wee-wee'd up, Remember come November)
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To: All

The real issue here is international calling. Phone calls that initiate from outside the U.S. are charged and regulated by that country, not American phone companies. Ever tried to make a phone call from Mexico while on vacation? The cost is outrageous but it isn’t the American phone company that came up with the rates. It’s the Mexican phone company that chose them. Wouldn’t shock me at all if Haiti’s are just as bad.

I really don’t know what texting rates are because I’m all thumbs and can speak a lot faster than I can type. But I don’t doubt that those rates are excessive too, and probably even worse when they originate from Haiti or Mexico or anywhere outside the U.S.


18 posted on 10/14/2010 7:23:28 PM PDT by OrangeHoof (Washington, we Texans want a divorce!)
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To: WorkingClassFilth

Ha !

Count me in too. I do have high speed internet so my landline phone is included. I do not own a cell phone. My husband’s company offered unlimited long distance, unlimited text for everyone in the family for $40 a month.

I didn’t get it. I can’t justify spending money on something I don’t need. I don’t know anyone here anyway.


19 posted on 10/14/2010 7:27:28 PM PDT by Jacktown
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To: IYAS9YAS

I use Verizon pre-paid because I only really have it for travel. I have used it twice when I had car trouble on the road. I also have AAA and with the two, I have never been more than 30 minutes late on a 200 mile trip. LOL!...but true.


20 posted on 10/14/2010 7:36:49 PM PDT by lonestar
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To: Jacktown

People are sheep. If you pushed putting a carrot in your ear through the media propaganda long enough, ‘cutting edge’ sheep would eventually walk around with a carrot shoved in their ears. After awhile (~14%) most people would begin to do the same.

In my 50’s and still with carrot-free hearing.


21 posted on 10/14/2010 7:43:05 PM PDT by WorkingClassFilth
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To: WorkingClassFilth

Just turned 50 and doing the same. I love the freedom.


22 posted on 10/14/2010 8:49:24 PM PDT by Jacktown
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To: OrangeHoof

I never attempt to contact home from another country except by email. Have had too many $urpri$es$!

I look forward to the day where cell phone rates are low and consistent. Anyone else remember the days when long distance calls (yes, on rotary landline phones to all you sanctimonious old goats) were outrageously expensive and times had to be monitored to avoid a bank-breaking bill?

Every few years I get hit with a bank-breaking cell phone bill for one reason or another. As a general business model, infuriating your customers every few years is a poor plan, but will monopoly regulations ever break up the cell phone companies to increase competition as was done with the old long-distance services?


23 posted on 10/15/2010 1:58:13 AM PDT by rusty millet
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