Unless it’s a winning lottery ticket or a birthday party, people usually don’t like surprises. And that’s especially true for cell phone users, who are often surprised these days by unexpected charges on their cell phone bill. The industry refers to this uh-oh experience as "bill shock."
Fortunately, here at Consumer Cellular, we’ve taken steps to ensure our customers are neither surprised nor shocked by the invoice they receive. But first a little more background before I tell you about those steps.
Why am I talking about bill shock? Well, I just read an article in The Washington Post about customers paying too much in international roaming charges when compared with domestic roaming rates.
You might recall the case of one cell phone user, whose unfortunate situation was big news in 2009. While vacationing in Mexico, the man, with the best of intentions, used his wireless phone and a mobile broadband card to download the movie "Wall-E" for his nephew. Upon returning home from the trip he was surprised – one imagines not pleasantly so — to receive a bill for $62,000 from his wireless service provider for the download. Ouch!
That story is, of course, the exception. But it points to bill shock as a serious problem in the wireless phone industry. In a compelling statistic cited by the FCC chairman, 30 million Americans have faced bill shock; in other words, one out of every six mobile phone users. And for many the largest single cause of bill shock is international roaming.
Simply put, our customers don’t have a bill shock problem. Our free Usage Alerts system automatically notifies each customer when they get close to exceeding their plan’s limits. We allow them to upgrade their plan, as needed, to avoid unnecessary overage charges. Plus, they can check their usage online at any time of day or night.
Our customers also don’t have a roaming problem. They are never charged a roaming fee for domestic U.S. usage, and that includes Alaska and Hawaii. And their Consumer Cellular phone will not work beyond the U.S. borders, thus protecting them from any outrageous international roaming fees, which are mostly unregulated and can vary widely.
An old expression tells us, "All roads lead to Rome." For Consumer Cellular customers, no matter which road they take…they never have to worry about roaming fees. We want our customers to enjoy their travels.