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Cellphones Communications Government

FCC Inquires About Controversial Verizon Fees 178

olsmeister writes "As previously noted here on Slashdot, Verizon Wireless has been increasing their early termination fees and actively charging non-data customers who accidentally press the wrong button and go online. The FCC has now sent them a letter asking why. The PDF of the letter can be viewed online. Maybe someone at the FCC does read Slashdot."
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FCC Inquires About Controversial Verizon Fees

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  • Riiight (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 05, 2009 @09:19AM (#30334428)

    Maybe someone at the FCC does read Slashdot

    Or they read New York Times, which Slashdot quoted in the said article.

  • by Akido37 ( 1473009 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @09:33AM (#30334476)
    Is to protect the people. I believe protecting us from getting screwed by gigantic corporations is just as valid as protecting us from invasion.
  • Re:Just a letter? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dumnezeu ( 1673634 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @09:39AM (#30334498)

    Maybe letters from you don't work, but letters from the FCC usually work. I've had a problem with a bank once, I wrote them and they completely ignored me. After 30 days, I've asked for help from a governmental organization, they wrote to the bank and a couple of days letter I had my answer AND the problem was fixed thanks to a simple inquiry sent by the right person/organization.

  • by plasmacutter ( 901737 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @09:41AM (#30334510)

    Is to protect the people. I believe protecting us from getting screwed by gigantic corporations is just as valid as protecting us from invasion.


    But regulation prevents innovations like this one from verizon from getting to market! /rightwing

  • by postbigbang ( 761081 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @09:52AM (#30334544)

    The threat of litigation doesn't mean as much as it used to. It costs the gov the same $$ go send lawyers, do depositions, get into discovery, try and settle, then go to trial as it does the plaintiff (Verizon in this case).

    That said, at least Obama's regime is doing something visible about outrageous telco behavior. The prior regime would have done a thumbs-up to Verizon.

  • Re:How pleasant (Score:5, Insightful)

    by barzok ( 26681 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @09:52AM (#30334546)

    This is what the FCC is supposed to be doing.

    Not chasing half-second nipslips because 4 uptight housewives in Idaho get snippy about their kids seeing something they don't want them to see, after they're supposed to be in bed and asleep already.

  • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @09:59AM (#30334572) Journal

    That said, at least Obama's regime is doing something visible about outrageous telco behavior

    There's a lot that Verizon does that's outrageous but does this really fall into that category? I've always found it absurd that they charge the same ETF for a el-cheapo no-frills candy bar phone as they do for a top of the line smartphone. If the theory behind the ETF is the amount of money they front to subsidize your device then shouldn't it stand to reason that the ETF should change according to the value of the device that you receive?

    In any event, I think it would be a better use of the FCC's limited time and resources if they were to hold Verizon to it's promise to open up their network. That promise was made almost two years ago as I recall. Where's my market in non-carrier branded devices for the Verizon network?

  • iDon't have AT&T. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples@gmail.BOHRcom minus physicist> on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:12AM (#30334626) Homepage Journal

    I think it would be a better use of the FCC's limited time and resources if they were to hold Verizon to it's promise to open up their network.

    Verizon already started to cover that with the DROID DOES campaign. But even if you agree with Verizon's ETF practices, I still commend the FCC for looking into the problem of making the "bill me $1.99 for browsing the web" button so easy to accidentally press.

  • Re:How pleasant (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hparker ( 41819 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:17AM (#30334646)

    No. Most businesses do that. You can substitute "companies" for "telcos". That's how the free market is supposed to work.
    Competition keeps the prices down, not companies being reasonable.

    So the question should be: Is the telco market perhaps too controlled and not free enough?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:19AM (#30334656)

    American companies don't make money, they steal money. They lie and use "tricks and traps" to pick people's pockets. This crap with Verizon is typical. In California, AT&T submitted a terms of use agreement that was 1500 pages. I'm sure that it contained provisions that would have allowed them to take your house or savings. Even the almost useless state utilities commission rejected it, because the law states that these agreements must be understandable.

    What kind of capitalism is this, exactly? The basic theory of capitalism says that buyers and sellers make informed decisions based on open information. How does changing the contract unilaterally fit in? First they write terms of service that allow them to change the rules without negotiation, then they double the cost of canceling. I know what the dumb ass libertarians and republicans will say: 'if you don't like it, you can quit before the change takes place.' This is bullshit because the cost of getting a new high end phone and new carrier is greater then the cost of keeping the service. How many people really change service before the term is up under any conditions?

    And this thing with getting charged for a couple of bucks for hitting a button when you did not sign up for the service? That is flat out and out theft. It has nothing to do with actual capitalism. What good or service do you get for pushing the wrong button on a cell phone?

    And what about the banks sorting ATM charges so users are charged the maximum overdraft fees? They sort the charges from biggest to smallest so you hit the overdraft at the beginning of the sequence and every charge after you go over the limit has an overdraft fee. Even if it is in the fine print somewhere it is stealing from consumers. Keep in mind that ATM overdraft fees were $38 Billion for the last year of published data. Not exactly chump change.

    I am pro-capitalism, but there is no way the system in the US is actual capitalism. It's all about big corporate interests buying the government and then looting the economy. That's why the US is in a long term economic decline. Corporate america has adopted a model based on orgaized crime, not capitalism.

  • by psychokitten ( 819123 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:20AM (#30334658)
    They did invade here - and all we got out of it was T-Mobile - you know, 7th largest mobile operator in the world? They settled into the American Way of cellphone service so readily it's hard to remember they're a multinational.
  • by tonycheese ( 921278 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:21AM (#30334662)

    In ailnlv's defense, you opened with "/rightwing" which is confusing as hell.

  • Re:Riiight (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Idiomatick ( 976696 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:25AM (#30334680)
    Honestly members of the FCC are totally the type of people that would read /. I don't think it would be that shocking if a few of them read /..
  • Re:Just a letter? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Idiomatick ( 976696 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:27AM (#30334690)
    It is often helpful to ask your lawyer if he'll write letters for you when dealing with companies/institutions. They see the legal letterhead and go hmmmmmm it'll be way easier to just fix this. If you are specific and just need a letter it is generally quite cheap.
  • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:53AM (#30334880)

    "love some more european and canadian cell phone companies to invade the US"

    European maybe, but you don't want to be subject to Canadian cell phone companies. We look at what you guys have with envy. Until the introduction of the iPhone it was cheaper to get a phone with a US carrier and then pay roaming charges in Canada than it was to just get a data plan here. Nation wide long distance? Sure, for $20 a month, and if you go outside our service area it doesn't count.

    Canadian cell phone companies are so bad that they've all started up (or bought) alias companies so they can do business under a name that's not quite so reviled.

  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Saturday December 05, 2009 @11:22AM (#30335132) Homepage Journal

    You cannot choose to ignore Verizon; they are everywhere, and they are a fact of life. They're causing you problems right now whether you realize it or not; somewhere, someone is getting frustrated with them, and getting a little more angry, which will come out in the world you live in. They're also causing economic distress which has real-world consequences. They're probably feeling the pinch of the recession; A lot of businesses have become more sleazy of late. Well, that's not true... they're just proving their sleaziness, which was already present. After all, if you have a sleaze in charge, you're sleaze. Also let's not forget that any spectrum not in use by Verizon is available for use by someone scrupulous. (Of course, the reality is that someone else unscrupulous would end up with it; that's the nature of bandwidth auctions. The People should not have to pool their money and bid to be able to use Their Ionosphere.

  • Re:How pleasant (Score:2, Insightful)

    by maxume ( 22995 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @11:35AM (#30335226)

    Breastfeeding is a beautiful, natural act.

    Of course, you probably didn't mean all young children.

    (Really, the only reason the sight of a nipple is found disturbing is because we fetishize covering them up; that's just part of our society and I don't really care either way, but it isn't as if the very sight of a nipple is going to induce a sex drive in a 7 year old)

  • Re:How pleasant (Score:2, Insightful)

    by garynuman ( 1666499 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @01:15PM (#30336110)
    so wait, you're telling me that Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson grinding all over each other singing about the hardcore raunchy sex they wish they were having during the break of an American institution sponsored by beer companies where grown men hit each other in the most violent manner possible is perfectly acceptable viewing for your kids, but a few seconds of barely visible nipple (which we all have two of on our very own bodies) crosses every line of good taste and acceptability and requires government to act. This logic is a joke to me, your kid is watching my adult event, the super bowl was never meant to be a family event, its not goddamn Disney, its a bunch of corporate ticket holders and rich guys taking a few days off work to get all juiced up and watch other rich guys beat the living hell out of each other for a trophy, some rings, and more money... broadcast around the world thanks to Budwiser. Drink Budwiser... and yes, you're right, if ABC were to start showing clips of pornography during their Saturday morning cartoons that would merit some action, but that example isn't valid here, because this happened during a flipping JANET JACKSON PERFORMANCE! what, exactly, led you to think a sexually charged duet between her and goddamn Justin Timberlake would be suitable viewing for your kids? I mean the clothes that she did have on was a skintight full body leather gimp suit for the most part, correct? Oh, and MTV was producing. You had every clue in the world from the first few seconds of it it might be time to change the channel for a few minutes if you were that concerned about sheltering your children from the outside world, yet despite all of this you still insist on using the FCC as an extension of your stupidity to go on a crusade over a joke two over-privileged out of touch jackasses played on live TV... That being said I've noticed over the past more or less year there have been a lot more news stories about the FCC pursuing something interesting and good and a hell of a lot less about them trying to legislate morality on public airwaves, which makes me happy.
  • DURRRR (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 05, 2009 @01:19PM (#30336156)

    Your parenting is shit. Empower your children with understanding, rather than trying to give them blinders.

    This will never fucking work, and we don't need more fucking uptight morons like you in the world.

  • by MickyTheIdiot ( 1032226 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @03:02PM (#30337170) Homepage Journal

    No... I think you're wrong here. The so-called capitalism that huge multinationals aspire to IS perverted capitalism. I've become convinced of this after becoming aware of the very cognitive dissonance you describe.

    Real capitalism is the shopkeeper on the corner that is trying to compete by doing a better job. When compared to a huge multinational he seems to have very little control of his situation. The control he has rests in being able to provide a better service than the guy in the shop on the corner a couple of blocks away.

    Multinationals are "perverting" capitalism because they have way to much control of the situation. They have wads of cash that allow them to influence government in a big way. They are able to buy or destroy competitors. When their business model fails they are often able to get the law changed to their advantage. They can write contracts that take an individual's rights away and then buy more lawyers to prevent the contract being struck down in court. Multinationals are HUGE concentrations of power, and this skews everything surrounding them, including the ideas behind capitalism.

    I am pro-capitalism. I am for the shopkeeper on the corner. As far as I can tell, the "capitalism" that huge businesses aspire to has very little to do with what the constitutional idea of capitalism is.

  • by Skapare ( 16644 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @11:41PM (#30340878) Homepage

    There needs to be substantial competition for it to correct itself. There isn't enough competition, yet. The only alternative is regulation. That needs to either directly correct the problem, or introduce the competition that can do it.

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