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« Oil for reconstruction | Main | What was Cheney Thinking »
Wednesday
Feb022005

Telecoms get the ok to steal your money

Those of you that know me know that the only technology I am phobic about is Cell Phones.

However I have recently fond myself having to bite the bullet and get a cell phone. And of course I did my homework and found a great deal on a phone.

During the course of my research I found something going on in California that may soon have implication to cellular users all over the country

Over the past eight months Californians been allowed to cancel cell phone service within 30 days if it wasn't up to snuff, with no penalties. They've demanded and received up-front contract information (no more hiding fees and restrictions in 3-point type, yea right), and they've slowly tried to force carriers to be honest about the nickel-and-dime fees that end up on their bills. When these restrictions passed, they were hailed as action that would put a stop to abusive practices by cell phone carriers.

In practice these regulations say that it is not ok to try to make a profit by lying to the consumer it addressed privacy concerns, consumer choice, accurate billing, decent customer service, dishonest marketing, and basic notifications about changes to your service--and it wasn't just for cell phones. It also regulated local and long-distance service and even prepaid calling cards, but the Neo-Cons at the California public utilities commission feel that it is unfair to ask businesses to treat the customer honestly so they intend to drop the regulation on those grounds.

The Bill of Rights applies to the telecommunications industry in California and would assure that consumers have the right to:

  • Disclosure: Consumers have a right to receive clear and complete information about rates, terms and conditions for available products and services, and to be charged only according to the rates, terms and conditions they have agreed to.
  • Choice: Consumers have a right to select their services and vendors, and to have those choices respected by industry.
  • Privacy: Consumers have a right to personal privacy, to have protection from unauthorized use of their records and personal information, and to reject intrusive communications and technology.
  • Public Participation and Enforcement: Consumers have a right to participate in public policy proceedings, to be informed of their rights and what agencies enforce those rights, and to have effective recourse if their rights are violated.
  • Accurate Bills and Redress: Consumers have a right to accurate and understandable bills for products and services they authorize, and to fair, prompt and courteous redress for problems they encounter.
  • Non-Discrimination: Every consumer has the right to be treated equally to all other similarly situated consumers, free of prejudice or disadvantage.
  • Safety: Consumers have a right to safety and security of their persons and property.

Now even if you do not live within a stones throw of California the merger mania that is going on in the telecommunications industry should be just cause for you to pay attention to this issue.

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