Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Just another way to not be responsible

I saw the headline yesterday on the Drudge Report and just had to shake my head:

FCC Wants Alerts on Wireless Overages

It was a link to a Wall Street Journal article (subscription may be required) detailing a proposal being considered under the 'truth in billing' rules so consumers know what they're paying for in their phone bills.

Now, I'm all for simplified statements - but Congress has obviously missed the point that all their rules and regulations are a prime reason why the billing is so complicated in the first place!

The actual proposal, according to the article:

Federal regulators are proposing new regulations on the wireless phone industry, which would require carriers to alert consumers if they've gone over their monthly data or text message allotments.

Joe White has details of a new FCC proposal which would require wireless carriers to alert consumers if they've gone over their monthly data or text message allotments.

The proposal is similar to rules recently enacted in the European Union on wireless companies, which require carriers to send a text message to subscribers who are racking up roaming charges or getting close to their plan's roaming limit.

The Federal Communications Commission proposal also considers whether carriers should send real-time alerts to subscribers who are exceeding their monthly voice, data or text messaging limits.

Wow - our Congress wanting to adopt the socialistic tendencies of the EU - what a concept!

And the reason why Congress is meddling in the customer service relationship between a consumer and a provider?

"We've gotten hundreds of complaints about bill shock," said Joel Gurin, head of the FCC's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, in a statement.

Um - let me get this straight. People sign up for cell phone service and they select a particular plan for minutes and access. At the time they make these decisions, they are notified how much it will cost them if they go over their planned usage. They then exceed what they've contracted for and get charged accordingly. And their reaction is to call the government and complain when their bills are so high?????

And government then thinks it needs to force companies to be even more responsible for their customers' stupidity???

I know - I know...asking questions that have no real answers.

What is wrong with these people who cannot take responsibility for themselves? Are we really building a nation of people completely dependent upon the government for such simple tasks as using a cell phone? I think it's even scarier that these same people who cannot keep track of their cell phone usage probably have children ... and vote!

My husband and I just recently upgraded our phones. Yes, we've entered the world of apps and cameras and texting and all kinds of extras that we've never had before on a phone. As part of the process, the clerk reviewed our prior usage and suggested a plan for minutes that was just a bit higher than what we'd had previously. This was a good suggestion that made sense to us, so we upgraded our plan. He also recommended that since we'd never had texting before, we should go with a mid-range number and then monitor the usage on line.

Oh - did you read that correctly? We can monitor our usage on line!!!! We could even use our phones to connect to the Internet and upgrade our text limit if we get close to our maximum number.

But that would require us to be responsible for ourselves and our own usage and actually do it.

But some people didn't pay attention so along comes a bunch of bureaucrats and politicians who think that's just too much to ask of individuals so they want to create a LAW to force companies to perform this task for us. They call it a regulation, but it is enforced like a law with penalties for non-conformance.

Now, would this be a good customer relations tool for a company to offer? Absolutely! Would I like it if my cell phone provider did this for me? Probably. Would I even pay for such a service? Maybe - I might not at first, but if I got a bill much higher than expected because I wasn't paying attention, I might decide it was worth a small amount of money every month to help me from facing sticker shock...

But should Congress or the federal government require it? NO!!!!

Government needs to just stop. Stop trying to solve every individual's problem with one-size-fits-all rules and regulations that do nothing but add to everyone's costs. Stop trying to create enough rules that people are 'saved' from the consequences of bad decisions. Stop making people dependent upon Washington for basic life skills. Stop creating ways to absolve people of personal responsibility.

If they don't we will end up like the people in Idiocracy. Unless we're already there....

2 comments:

Mad Jack said...

I don't agree. It's past time for the FCC to regulate cell service providers. Consider that cell phone providers operate like any other company in the US (or anywhere) in that their primary motivating is maximizing profits. The reason your bill is difficult to decipher is not the government regulations; it's because the company has found multiple loopholes and is using them.

From Maggie Thurber: But some people didn't pay attention so along comes a bunch of bureaucrats and politicians who think that's just too much to ask of individuals so they want to create a LAW to force companies to perform this task for us. They call it a regulation, but it is enforced like a law with penalties for non-conformance.

Yeah, imagine that? Elected officials actually paying attention to the complaints of their constituents. What is the world coming to?

It's true enough that this is called a regulation but is enforced as a law, but if it were not enforced as a law the company would ignore the regulation as having no teeth.

Maggie Thurber said...

MadJack - no matter what your beef with a cell provider, government has no business telling them that they must (under force of penalty) notify you if you're close to exceeding your usage limits.

This is not government 'listening' to constituents. This is government being used so constituents don't have to be responsible for themselves. No person should need a government rule or law to keep them from going over their cell phone minutes.

And I did say that bills could be simplified. But the rules Congress created in the effort to "help" have made the process far more complicated and now they're making more rules because they couldn't predict how the myriad of individual activities in the marketplace would respond. No government can do that - which is why a 'free' market is so much better and wiser than any group of politicians and/or bureaucrats.

Of course a business wants to maximize its profits. Part of the problem is that ALL businesses look at what Congress does and still find ways to make a profit. That's not a bad thing.

In a truly 'free' market, the market would respond to bad business practices (like gouging or providing bad service) and the company would be out of business very shortly if it didn't change. (or get bailed out by those same clueless politicians...)

But instead of that being allowed to happen, people turn to government to 'force' their own personal preferences outside the market system. And politicians, eager to use such issues as campaign fodder, are only too eager to comply.

The best thing a politician can tell a constituent is "I understand your problem, but that doesn't mean that government must act."

I had to do that numerous times when an elected official and all the people I told that to were more empowered as a result.

That's the core issue here - whether government is going to 'represent' the people .... or turn them into mindless idiots who cannot act on their own without government telling them what to do or protecting them from the consequences of their own stupid mistakes.

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