Those pesky hidden fees
It’s happened to the best of us — you sign up for an internet of mobile data plan, thinking you know how much you’ll pay, only be surprised with hidden fees that crop up on your bill unexpectedly.
Consumerist reports that The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which receives over 2000 complaints about surprise fees every year, has proposed a new solution to prevent hidden fees and provide consumers with more information when choosing an internet or mobile data plan.
The Consumer Broadband Label
Last year’s Open Internet Order outlined rules requiring broadband providers to be more transparent with information about the costs and performance of their services. To help make it easier for companies to be transparent, the FCC has created a new labeling system that strongly resembles the standard nutrition information labels printed on boxes and cans of food.
The “Consumer Broadband Label” was created by the FCC in collaboration with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The idea was to create a standardized label, using clear language, that would make it easy for consumers to make “apples to apples” comparisons of different services. Included in the labels are information about things like monthly charges, additional fees, taxes, average speeds, and data caps. There is one version for fixed services, such as cable or internet in the home, and another label for mobile services.
Giving fees no place to hide
Said Richard Cordray of the CFPB, “consumers deserve to know before they owe, with clear, upfront information about prices, risks, and terms of the deal.” He hopes that the the labels will “affect industry behavior” because hidden fees will “have no place to hide.”
Although the Consumer Broadband Label is optional for internet service providers, the FCC is strongly encouraging ISPs to use it because it is a simple way to ensure that they are following the new Open Internet rules that the FCC agreed upon last year. If companies do choose to use the label, they will be protected from litigation in the future by showing that they attempted to be transparent.