FCC Launches New, User-Friendly Help And Complaints Site For Consumers

A screenshot from the FCC's new and improved help center.

A screenshot from the FCC’s new and improved help center.

Despite being the go-to agency for internet issues, the FCC’s website has not exactly got a reputation for user-friendliness. Quite the opposite, in fact. But this week the commission behind the broadband is hoping to change all that with a major site revamp that makes it easier for consumers where to go when they need help.

The FCC announced the new Consumer Help Center today. The new site is intended vastly to improve the ability for regular consumers to find answers to their “is this allowed” questions and to make it easier to lodge complaints.

The new site uses big, clear, friendly icons to help users navigate to a problem to their solution, first guiding users to choose the tech they’re having trouble with: — phone, TV, radio, internet, access, or emergency services. From there, consumers can access FAQ guides about common problems or new, streamlined complaint forms for reporting a problem to the FCC.

The FCC’s web presence has not previously been known for its user-friendliness or reliability. Their web services basically work the same now as they did in the 90s, kind of the internet version of buying a house in 2015 that still has its original electric wiring from 1930. IT’s easy to overload and, since federal bureaucracies aren’t always intuitively organized, has been arcane to try to navigate from the outside.

The FCC blog explains that the new complaint system isn’t just meant to be easier to use and to navigatae, but also will be more integrated with the commission’s other processes. The data collected by the complaint system will be “smoothly integrated with [the FCC’s] policymaking and enforcement processes,” which should ideally make those processes themselves go more smoothly, and ensure that the FCC spends its time and money on fixing the problems that consumers identify.

Consumer advocates from Consumers Union (the advocacy arm of Consumerist’s parent company, Consumer Reports), who helped provide input for the new design, applauded the move. Delara Derakhashani, policy counsel for Consumers Union, said, “This site will make it easier for people to file and track complaints about problems like annoying robocalls and fraudulent charges, and it will help the FCC spot emerging trends in the marketplace. This is a one-stop shop for consumers, and it’s a real improvement over the old system where forms and information were spread out and hard to find. We’re pleased that more of this complaint data is going to be available to the public, which will help root out problems and raise the bar for companies.”