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Today, Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA) introduced the “Truth-In-Billing, Remedies, and User Empowerment over Fees” (TRUE Fees) Act to ensure that pay TV, cellular service, and broadband providers include “below-the-line” fee items in their advertised price for service. The bill also mandates that telecommunications providers clearly explain these fees to consumers as well as notify subscribers 21 days before increasing any “below-the-line” fee. Furthermore, the bill prohibits service providers from charging consumers a “termination” fee should they decide to switch service providers upon learning of any “below-the-line” fee increase, unless the consumer requested additional service first.
The following can be attributed to Chris Lewis, Vice President at Public Knowledge:
“For far too long, consumers have been misled by telecommunications providers by offering service for one price and then charging another. Until now, consumers have had zero recourse for dealing with increasing ‘below-the-line’ and equipment fees other than ending service -- and paying an unfair termination fee for the privilege. Not anymore.
“We commend Rep. Eshoo for taking a significant step toward empowering consumers to switch providers -- without paying a termination fee -- upon learning of below-the-line or equipment fee increases. We’re especially pleased that the bill prohibits ‘forced arbitration’ for wrongful billing, enabling consumers to lodge billing complaints with the Federal Communications Commission or even file a lawsuit.
“Informed consumers can make clear market choices. This is why we welcome Rep. Eshoo’s efforts to provide consumers with plain-language, transparent billing information and actual remedies for responding to specific fee increases. When you sign up with a provider, you should know what you’re paying for and how much -- without getting hit with a bait-and-switch.”