Steps Taken to Protect Against Bill Shock

Guidelines expanding usage alerts now fully in place.

By Tom Pica on April 16, 2013

In late 2011, the wireless industry announced a plan to provide free alerts on consumers’ voice, messaging, data and global roaming usage by April 17, 2013. Today, those alerts are a reality. They allow consumers to enjoy the applications; social networking, and messaging that enrich so many lives, while allaying fears of unexpected overage charges on their bills.

The Consumer Usage Notification Guidelines are part of the CTIA Consumer Code for Wireless Service. CTIA, the national wireless industry association, represents companies serving 97 percent of US wireless users.

The CTIA guidelines call for:

  • Alerts to consumers on domestic plans with limited data allowances when they approach and exceed their allowance and will incur overage charges. This includes family plans, such as the Verizon Wireless Share Everything Plans.
  • Alerts to consumers on domestic plans with limited voice and messaging allowances when they approach and exceed their allowances and will incur overage charges.
  • Notification to consumers without an international roaming plan/package whose devices have registered abroad and who may incur charges for international usage.

Verizon Wireless today meets all and exceeds many of the requirements. Customers on domestic plans with limited allowances for voice calls, messaging or data receive free alerts at multiple usage levels, exceeding the CTIA guidelines. They can manage the frequency of the alerts, add additional recipients and monitor usage.  At the same time, customers traveling internationally – not just those without an international roaming plan or package – receive a welcome text message when their phone registers on a roaming partner’s network, informing them of voice, text and data rates. Customers using data internationally also receive free alerts at multiple levels informing them of estimated unbilled global data usage.

The Federal Communications Commission encouraged and welcomed the wireless industry initiative to help consumers avoid “bill shock.” The FCC announced a website to track wireless companies’ compliance and progress.