Government Wants Companies To Warn Consumers When They Approach Overage Minutes Or Are Texting Too Much


cell-phoneDid you hear the one about the family that got the $62,000 cell phone bill for downloading a film  Or how about the guy who paid $27,000 to watch a football game while on vacation?

It could all be a thing of the past. The government may just protect us from cell phone bill shock.

We talk, text and download on our phones all day, but those cool functions can ring up a big bill at month’s end.

“It’s about $220, but we have four lines. We have kids on the line,” said Cindy Sanchez of Harlem.

“It was around $800. I knew, but I had to communicate,” added Josette Wiggan of the Upper West Side.

Now the Federal Communications Commission may force cell phone companies to notify you before you’re forced to face cell phone bill shock.

“We want them to send an alert to say ‘Be careful. You’re about to head into overage territory,'” said Joel Gurin of the FCC.

The FCC is asking consumers to use an online form to file complaints and comments. And that feedback could result in forcing cell phone companies to text or call you when minutes are about to expire, you’re texting too much or any other out of pattern charges are piling onto your bill.

“In most cases the cell phone companies are trying to collect some if not all of the charges,” said Kelli Grant of Smart Money magazine.

Any new rules protecting consumers could roll out as early as December, but in the interim you can still fight back with a pre-paid cell phone.

“When you’re out of minutes, you’re out and the cell phone turns off until you pay more again,” Grant said.

And if you do get caught with a big bill for unexpected usage, try fighting back.

With customer service, be prepared with your bill and be polite. Set aside 30 minutes to an hour to do battle, and ask for a manager since they are usually the only ones authorized to negotiate a bill.

If all else fails with customer service reps on the phone, go ahead and write a letter — a good one pager that states your case and asks for a refund.

There are currently no rules governing how a cell phone company has to deal with “out of pattern” charges, so consumers are on their own when fighting back.

{WCBSTV/Noam Newscenter}


  1. Why should the Government be trying to protect everyone from every mistake? Let a person mess up once or twice and – it won’t happen again!