Cell Phone Minutes
Wireless companies are going to be required to notify users when they reach their monthly limit.
The term "bill shock" is exactly what Reba Rosenaur got.
"My mouth was gaping. I'm like, what," questioned Rosenaur.
A $3,100 cell phone bill, much of that international roaming charges from a three day Canadian vacation.
Rosenaur's bill is an extreme example, but the FCC is hoping soon, a less frequent one.
That's after wireless carriers pledged today to give text message warnings to consumers before they go over monthly limits for calls, roaming, text messages and data usage.
"This solution will give consumers the information they need to save money on their monthly wireless bills," explained FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.
Two surveys in the past year by consumers union, the non-profit publisher of consumer reports, found an average of 1 in 5 customers have suffered some form of cell phone bill shock.
“Consumers just didn't know they were hitting their caps or their limits on their phones ,” said Consumers Union Parul Desai.
The pledge for a limit alert comes as the threat of government imposed mandates loomed for wireless carriers.
"They would much rather regulate themselves and be in charge of their own destiny than have Congress or the FCC impose some regulation," said CNET.com’s Maggie Reardon.
The companies pledge to have alerts in place within 12 months for at least 2 of their services.
All of them within 18 months but as data use starts to outweigh minutes used on smart phones, there's still a learning curve for consumers.
How much is emailing or checking facebook or even streaming a few minutes of video? How much is that gonna eat up my data plan either on my smartphone or my iPad," questioned Reardon.
That knowledge, along with the alerts, could help avoid some unexpected bills.