On October 16, 2012, the FCC invited industry comments on a 2010 Petition for Declaratory Ruling filed by two individuals requesting guidance on the FCC’s truth in billing rules (CG Docket No. 98-170, DA 12-1651). The individuals had originally filed suit at a federal trial court in Michigan asserting violations of the FCC’s truth in billing rules by their telecommunications service provider. The federal court determined to refer the questions presented in the suit to the FCC, prompting the 2010 Petition for Declaratory Ruling.
The 2010 Petition seeks guidance on whether the following list of eight specific billing practices violates the FCC’s truth in billing rules and/or violates the overarching provision in federal law prohibiting unjust and unreasonable practices by telecommunications providers (i.e., 47 USC 201(b)):
- Charges that are unclear, but not misleading or deceptive.
- Charges unaccompanyied by a description.
- Charges for a “recurring fee” unaccompanied by an explanation.
- Charging $4.99 for a “recurring fee” (without description) for being late and a 1.5% charge called a “late fee.”
- Charging $4.99 for a “recurring fee” (without description) for receiving a special rate.
- Charges for “other fees” unaccompanied by an explanation.
- Charging of a late fee without refunding the late fee after discovery of an error unless a customer requested the refund.
- An incorrect total of monthly charges (the amount billed is greater than the actual tally of individual charges).