New Report Says FCC Fails At Tracking Customer Complaints

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a new report yesterday that says that while the FCC processes about 95% of the complaints that come in, it takes some sort of enforcement action in only about 9% of them. “The GAO said it was unable to determine why the [other] investigations were closed without action because ‘FCC does not systematically collect these data.'” The FCC uses five separate databases and “about 46,000 paper files” to track complaints, and the GAO said “made it difficult to get answers to basic questions like how long it takes the agency to close an investigation and the total dollar amount it assesses in fines.”

Other interesting findings from the study:

  • Complaints rose by 40% from 2003 to 2006
  • “Telemarketers generated the most, 178,079 out of 454,373 complaints.
  • Billing rates for both wireline and wireless telephone providers were second, accounting for 117,875 complaints.

“Report Faults FCC on Complaint Tracking” [Associated Press]
(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. SVreader says:

    Sounds suspect. On the other hand, I once talked to a guy who said he was reporting a popular search engine (not an internet service provider) to the FCC because his internet connection had been down.

  2. homerjay says:

    Incompetency in the federal government?? Say it ain’t so!

  3. Orv says:

    I think they only track complaints when people are complaining about “wardrobe malfunctions.”

  4. trujunglist says:

    I’m sure that a crapload of these complaints are invalid. Then again, I’m sure a crapload of the complaints are totally valid. Then again, I’m sure that a crapload of the totally valid complaints are completely ignored by the FCC because it conflicts with whatever is in their best interest (i.e. how much money will whatever company give to us now?). Government is total and absolute corruption. I really lost the perhaps tiny amount of faith I maybe had left at a recent meeting with some government douchebags. You would be absolutely amazed at the incompetence and general douchebaggery, or probably not actually, because we for some reason expect it yet do nothing.

  5. SacredByte says:

    Or about someone saying “cunt” on morning television.

  6. At least they admit such complaints exist. I’m actually kinda impressed by that.

  7. lonewolf333 says:

    The only way to get your complaints listened to by the FCC is to say you saw a nipple.

  8. tz says:

    The FBI probably uses the same system to track terrorists. Where is the NSA when Japanese auto executives are discussing warranty problems?

  9. RustysNailed says:

    But really, the FCC sucks, so eff them

  10. RustysNailed says:

    @RustysNailed: yeah, who doesnt like boobs on national television? Communists, thats who!

  11. theblackdog says:

    The easiest way to make sure your FCC complaint is read is to throw in the words “Howard Stern”, “Baba Booey”, or “Bubba the Love Sponge”. I guarantee it will be read, even if you’re bitching about Comcast and their packet shaping.

  12. ezacharyk says:

    This actually makes sense. Considering the vast majority of FCC complaints originate from the PTC. I am pretty sure that they account for about 91% of all the complaints sent to the FCC.

  13. ageshin says:

    The FCC is not interested in doing its job, but it is interested in encourageing those who it is required to regulate to do their thing, and that is to ignore the public.

  14. mac-phisto says:

    listen everybody, let’s cut them a little slack here. they have some serious business they’re attending to now – auctioning off our airwaves to private companies. they don’t have time to listen to joe blow to complain that he’s repeatedly being overcharged on his cell phone bill.

  15. Swervo says:

    After reading a whole series of FCC complaints at a site that collects government docs via the FOIA on shows like The Daily Show, Family Guy, The Simpsons, etc, I’m rather happy to hear that they ignore most of ’em.

  16. backbroken says:

    9% isn’t that bad considering the FCC is extremely busy trying to raise everyone’s kids.

  17. noquarter says:

    I don’t want to imply that anecdotal evidence trumps statistics, but:

    When Cingular tried to screw me (long story, not relevant), my complaint to the BBB went ignored, my complaint to the Attorney General of MD didn’t get a response for 4 months, and my complaint to the FCC got someone from the office of the president at Cingular to call, apologize, and refund my money within 10 days.

  18. mac-phisto says:

    @noquarter: well, that accounts for 0.05%…where’s the other 8.95%?

  19. ToddGR says:

    Here’s a link to the GAO Report: []

    And to a Ars Technica post the subject: []

    Basically, the incompetence of the FCC knows no bound.

  20. toobadsprint says:

    I totally agree. This is my response from the fcc after reporting telemarketing calls.

    The National Do-Not-Call Registry is maintained by the Federal Trade
    Commission and not by the Federal Communications Commission. If your
    name has been on the list for at least 31 days, telemarketing calls should

    Based on the information which you submitted, you are a Sprint/Nextel
    customer. An established business relationship exists if you have made
    an inquiry, application, purchase, or transaction regarding products or
    services offered by the person or company making calls.

    The business relationship is only in effect for 18 months after your
    last business transaction or 3 months after your last inquiry or
    application. After that, any calls placed by that person or company are
    considered telephone solicitations and will be subject to the Do-Not-Call

    You have the right to ask Sprint not to contact you but they are not
    violating Do-Not-Call rules if you are their customer.