Dave Stancliff Telecommunication companies takes your bill and ‘crams” it blogarama.com

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Telecommunication companies takes your bill and ‘crams” it

Senator's probe slams phone firms for murky 'cramming' fees

Mysterious fees and services crammed onto phone bills are a “nationwide epidemic” for U.S. consumers, but a reliable source of revenue for some of America's biggest telecommunications companies, a year-long congressional investigation has found.

A report issued Wednesday by Sen. John Rockefeller, D-W.Va., says that three firms -- Verizon, AT&T and CenturyLink/Quest -- earned $650 million as their cut of cramming charges levied by third-parties since 2006.

Cramming charges -- such as unwanted $10-per-month voicemail or Web design services -- have been frustrating phone customers for more than 15 years, thanks in part to ill-considered rules designed to enhance competition in local phone markets. Consumers often don't spot the small monthly fees, but even when they do getting refunds can be a nightmare: The telephone provider that sends the bills often refuses to issue refunds, instead referring consumers to the third-party firms, which are often unresponsive.  The Federal Communications Commission estimates that 15 million to 20 million consumers are crammed every year.  Rockefeller’s report says cramming could cost U.S. consumers $2 billion annually.

Congress has been unable to fix the problem for more than a decade.

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