Late last week President Trump signed a spending bill that included a provision to ban hidden fees on cable providers as part of a spending bill. These reforms will go into effect six months from now unless the FCC grants a six-month extension.
“People across the country are fed up with all of the extra fees they pay each month that keep growing more costly year after year,” said Jonathan Schwantes, senior policy counsel for Consumer Reports. “Cable companies shouldn’t be allowed to disguise the true cost of service by charging a long list of add-on fees that aren’t clearly disclosed when customers sign up for service. These reforms will bring fairness and clarity to pay-TV billing so we can find a plan that fits our budget without having to worry about getting stuck paying hidden fees.”
This bill requires pay-TV operators to disclose the total price, including all itemized charges, fees, and estimated taxes before a consumer signs up for a video package, whether offered individually or as part of a bundled service. If this bill passes, consumers will have the right to cancel service without penalty within 24 hours after receiving notice of the total cost at the point of sale. Pay-TV providers will be prohibited from charging consumers fees for equipment they do not use.
The “Truth-in-Billing, Remedies, and User Empowerment over Fees Act of 2019’’ or ‘‘TRUE Fees Act of 2019” was introduced in February by U.S. Representative Anna Eshoo from California and Senator Ed Markey. If this proposed legislation passes, companies would have to alert a consumer of any increase no later than 21 days before it goes into effect, giving the consumer ample time to cancel the service and/or switch to another cable provider if they choose to. The hope is to put an end to the sudden and often unexpected price hikes that come when fees are added or hidden in new contracts.