Hexbyte – Tech News – Ars Technica | Hidden fees that raise price of broadband would be banned by proposed law

Hexbyte – Tech News – Ars Technica |

Truth in advertised prices —

Advertised telco prices would have to include all fees if Democrat’s bill passes.


Hexbyte - Tech News - Ars Technica | Young woman expressing shock at the price of a bill.
Enlarge /

Bill shock.

Getty Images | Biddiboo

US Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) today introduced legislation that would require telecom companies to include all charges in their advertised prices, potentially ending the practice of advertising low prices and then socking customers with loads of extra fees.

The bill would also force telecom companies to justify price increases that occur during a contract term, and it would let consumers opt out of contracts without paying termination fees when prices are increased. The bill would also prohibit providers from requiring arbitration in the case of billing errors, thus preserving consumers’ rights to sue the providers over price disputes.

Eshoo’s TRUE Fees Act (Truth-In-Billing, Remedies, and User Empowerment over Fees) would apply to phone, TV, and home or mobile Internet providers. The bill isn’t likely to get much support from Republicans in Congress, who have generally protected Internet providers from new requirements.

Hexbyte – Tech News – Ars Technica | Customers “blindsided by higher bills”

Customers today are being “sold a service for one price, only to be blindsided by higher bills at the end of the month from tacked-on ‘service’ or ‘administrative’ fees,” Eshoo said in her announcement. “These ‘below-the-line’ fees add up to hundreds of millions of dollars each year for cable and Internet service providers at the expense of consumers who have little to no option than to pay up.”

Here’s Eshoo’s summary of what the legislation requires:

Specifically, the True Fees Act requires cable and Internet providers to include all charges in the prices they advertise for service; allows customers to end their contract without early termination fees if the provider increases fees during the term of the contract; prevents arbitrary price hikes on equipment fees unless there is actually an improvement made to the equipment; and prohibits forced arbitration clauses for wrongful billing errors.

The bill would let customers seek enforcement actions from the Federal Communications Commission or Federal Trade Commission, a spokesperson for Eshoo told Ars. FCC jurisdiction would apply for common carrier services (i.e. mobile phone service and non-VoIP landline phone service), and the FTC would have jurisdiction for non-common carrier services (i.e. TV, broadband, and VoIP phone services), Eshoo’s office said.

Hexbyte – Tech News – Ars Technica | FCC ditched similar rules

Eshoo’s proposal is similar to rules that were enforced by the FCC starting in 2015. But th

Read More