One Year After Promising To Set Up Bill Shock Alerts, Some Wireless Companies Still Dragging Feet

Status as of Oct. 17, 2012

Exactly one year ago, telecom companies representing 97% of wireless customers in the U.S. all swore a blood oath (okay, maybe “agreed” is more accurate) to institute overage alerts for everything from voice to data to international roaming. While some carriers have made significant progress toward this goal, some appear to be waiting until its closer to the deadline.

The above chart breaks down where each of the carriers is at with each of the four alerts — voice, data, text, international roaming — that are to be in place by April 17, 2013.

None of the four major carriers — AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile — have created all the required alerts.

Verizon is the closest, only lacking in alerts for international roaming, though it does say it has alerts for data overages in all countries, and alerts for too many texts everywhere except Canada.

AT&T claims to have three of the four categories checked off, though it still hasn’t managed to alert customers to that most basic of overages: voice minutes.

For all T-Mobile customers, there are currently only alerts for data and international roaming. However, T-Mo subscribers with the oddly titles Even More Plus plan apparently have the privilege of receiving alerts for voice overages.

Sprint similarly only has alerts for data and international roaming, with no note of the other two alerts being available to a particular class of customer.

While we believe that these carriers could have done more in a year to set up these alerts, FCC Chair Julius “Pronounce it however you want to” Genachowski says he’s pleased with the progress thus far and believes that everything will be in place by the April 2013 deadline.

“Wireless customers have been getting hit left and right with unexpected charges,” says Ellen Bloom, Director of Federal Policy for Consumers Union. “These free notifications help consumers keep tabs on plan limits so that they can avoid costly surprises in their bills. We’re glad to hear that companies are living up to this agreement, and we’re going to keep monitoring them to make sure consumers get the alerts they need.”