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US telcos agree to warn users before they bust their tariff

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US network operators have bowed to public pressure, and the FCC, by agreeing to send out notifications every time a user pops their bundled allocation of minutes, messages and data.

Some operators already offer the service, but within the next 12 months every US operator will have to send subscribers a (free) text message when they exceed the amount of communications included in their tariff bundle, and before the shift on to the often-punitive excess rate.

Users tend to underestimate their usage, and operators delight in selling cheap bundles and then collecting the excess fees. It is a usual part of the business model, and part of the calculation when operators are deciding how to shape their tariffs.

But it does annoy subscribers, who get caught out by high rates that they never expected to have to pay (having underestimated their usage). Having to notify users will dent that income, so the FCC deserves credit for getting the operators to agree.

Americans who travel will also get mandatory notifications when roaming rates kick in. That's something we do have in Europe, as well as notifications when the roaming bill gets too high, but at home we can still run up excess fees in ignorance until the bill arrives. ®

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