Two U.S. Senators Introduce Cell Phone Consumer Empowerment Act
In a press release, the Senators describe how the Cell Phone Consumer Empowerment Act of 2007 "will require wireless service providers to share simple, clear information on their services and charges with customers before they enter into long-term contracts; a thirty-day window in which to exit a contract without early termination fees; and greater flexibility to exit contracts with services that don’t meet their needs."
“Anyone who’s looked at a cell phone bill knows it’s a hodge-podge of fees and surcharges that supposedly cover regulatory or administrative costs,” said Rockefeller. “The reality is, often these are nothing more than operating costs that the companies are passing on to the consumer disguised as fees and taxes. It’s high time to protect cell phone users from these deceptive billing practices.”
Follow along for highlights of the Cell Phone Consumer Empowerment Act of 2007:
•EARLY TERMINATION FEES (ETF)
-The FCC shall set forth regulations to pro-rate ETFs. At a minimum, the ETF for a 2-year contract shall be reduced by ½ after 1 year.
•MAPPING AND SERVICE QUALITY
-Maps are to be detailed enough to identify whether or not a consumer shall be able to receive wireless service at the consumer’s home.
-Wireless providers shall provide the FCC with information on dropped calls and coverage gaps; and the FCC shall make this information publicly available.
•DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS FOR PLANS AND CONTRACTS
-Publication of the terms of a wireless plan shall include information on: contract terms; charges; minutes; information on taxes and surcharges; wireless E-911 service; and other information that the FCC considers appropriate.
-This information shall be given to a consumer prior to entering into any contract.
-Taxes and fees shall be set forth in a separate section of the bill; and roaming charges shall be separately itemized and sent to a subscriber not later than 60 days after such calls were placed.
-Carriers will not be able to list charges or fees other than fees for the wireless service and any charge expressly authorized by federal, state, or local regulation.
•CONTRACT EXTENSION, MODIFICATION, OR RESCISSION
-Extension: An extension of a contract shall not be valid unless the wireless provider provides point-of-sale notice of the extension to the customer and allows the customer to cancel the extension within 30 days after such notice.
-Modification: Wireless carriers must provide subscribers with written notices of changes in rates and terms at least 30 days before such changes are to take effect.
-Rescission: A contract for wireless service may be canceled upon the request of a subscriber for any reason up to 30 days after entering into the contract.
•REPORT ON HANDSET PORTABILITY AND HANDSET QUALITY
-The FCC shall submit a report to Congress that studies the practice of handset locking in the United States and the effect of handset locking on consumer behavior and competition.
•TERMINATION OF CONTRACTS FOR ARMED SERVICE PERSONNEL
-U.S. military personnel may terminate their cell phone contracts if, during the term of the contract, the member receives orders for deployment outside of the U.S. for a period of not less than 90 days.
-The FCC shall enforce the legislation’s provisions and the attorney general of a State, or the public utility commission of a State may bring a civil action in federal district court or establish or use existing administrative procedures to enforce the Act’s provisions.
-The Act preempts state law, except that the Act does not preempt state laws that provide additional protections to wireless subscribers.
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