Cell Phone Regulation Has Become Necessary

Cell Phone Regulation Has Become Necessary
By RAY HANANIA • Friday, June 08, 2012 SW News-Herald
If an average $300 a month in cellular related charges is not enough reason to impose price controls on cell phone services, how about the fact that the cell phone companies are conspiring with fraudulent firms to “slam” customers with phony charges.

It happens all the time and we, the consumers complain — most of us anyway — but no one does anything about it. Most consumers don’t even realize they are being “slammed.” Yes, the industry has a term for it and we still can’t make it stop.

The added costs to consumers, by some estimates, is more than $1 billion a year in excess charges that the companies who “slam” you generate and then share with the cell companies.

Yes, the cell companies are in cahoots with the scammers, a system they tolerate because they know they will get half of those illicit profits.

You may have seen an unusual $9.99 charge on your phone bill, but chances are you don’t. That’s because more than 75 percent of cell users either don’t check their monthly statements carefully enough or don’t understand the charges and don’t question them. Yes, 75 percent of the people just pay the bill. That’s the genius of the cell phone company encouraged scam.

The cell phone companies simply take an unauthorized charge and add it to your bill. And this is where the government comes in and why government can stop it. The cell phone companies charge government taxes on the scam charge. The government makes money too!

The scams involve stupid services like: offering a horoscope by text to your phone. You didn’t ask for it but they just grabbed your cell number and add it on.

The cell companies explain you must have signed up or went to a Web site that offered it and didn’t read the fine print. But that’s not true. The company billing you simply told your cell phone service to add the monthly charge to your bill. And the cell phone companies do it. No questions asked.

The scammers should be required to show proof that a customer asked for a service. A signed authorization, or some other confirmation before the cell phone company can turn itself into the collection agency for the scammer. But they don’t. They want that extra money, too.

Maybe the cell phone companies should do what they do to customers when they get a phone, sign their lives away in paperwork.

If you call and complain, 50 percent of the time the cell phone company will remove the charge and block the service. But 50 percent of the time, they will make you pay that one month, or the number of months it was on before you caught it, and then stopped it.

There should be a law that prevents this kind of fraud. The U.S. Attorney’s office should file a lawsuit to stop this practice.

But everyone is getting something from this scam in terms of profits, except for the consumers.

Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, and all of the cell phone companies are involved collecting the scam fee everything month, adding a tax, and then giving the illicit profit to the scam company, keeping some for itself and paying the government its share.

You’re not even getting a service for the scam, just a bill. Because in most cases, the scam service does nothing more than bill you each month.

Thanks to an unregulated cell phone industry.

Cell phone companies have put the “phone” in phony and it’s time someone stopped it.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and Chicago radio talkshow host. http://www.RadioChicagoland.com)

Categories: US & National Politics

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