back to article US telcos agree to warn users before they bust their tariff

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 …

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"Americans who travel will also get ... notifications when roaming rates kick in."

That will be a boon for those live, work, or vacation on the southern shores of the Great Lakes (especially Lake Erie), where favourable atmospheric conditions combined with very calm waters at certain times in the summer (heat-wave-esque days with no wind) occasionally make some cell phones forget they're in the US, and cause them to latch onto a tower in Canada instead. (This has happened more than once to various friends of mine.)

International roaming charges, especially those garnered while your feet are still on your own home soil, suck big time...

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WTF?

I don't suppose it would be possible to just can the punitive rates?

Its a great idea to have these notifications, its way past overdue. But why do we have these punitive tariffs in the first place? There's no rationale for them, they're an echo of a time when companies thought that reaming people was an acceptable business model.

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Stop

?

When did Big Business *stop* thinking reaming people was an acceptable business model?

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Upgrade option

It seems that rather than stick a fork in their customers, they should take the opportunity to warn their clients that they are about to go over the limit and upgrade options are available.

This would be especially true if they gave a daily rate for X number of days. Enter number of extension days and that you are willing to except additional charges for that length of time and everybody's happy.

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"so the FCC deserves credit"

It deserves *some* credit, maybe, but not too much. Because its only half of the *sensible* answer.

Yes, a notice is better than nothing, but far far better would be for the FCC to require operators to cease those dishonest "our business model is based on fleecing the customer" tariffs.

That could be done at a stroke by insisting that the excess can never be charged at more than pro-rata (so if you use 10% more than estimated, you pay at most 10% more than you estimated).

Any fixed costs such as line rental and administration have to come out before performing that pro-rata calculation, even if they were not separately disclosed.

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