Today the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee voted to ban hidden fees on cable TV, internet, and phone services. This comes as part of a vote to renew the Satellite Television Access Reauthorization (STAR) Act.
“Consumers who sign up for video service shouldn’t end up with a case of sticker shock after getting their first bill,” said Jonathan Schwantes, senior policy counsel for Consumer Reports. “Cable companies tack on hundreds of dollars in extra fees to the average customer’s bill each year that aren’t always included in the advertised price. This legislation will help bring fairness and transparency to billing by requiring disclosure of the total cost before consumers sign up for video service.”
As part of renewing STAR, Senator Ed Markey is expected to offer an amendment that would ban hidden fees in cable TV, internet, and phone bills. This amendment is modeled after the TRUE Fees Act, a bill that he introduced to protect consumers from hidden fees found in cable TV bills.
The TRUE Fees Act was introduced back in February by U.S. Representative Anna Eshoo from California, and Senator Ed Markey, called the “Truth-in-Billing, Remedies, and User Empowerment over Fees Act of 2019’’ or ‘‘TRUE Fees Act of 2019.” 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 promotional offers end.
Bills like this have been tried in the past and so far have not been successful. As of today, this new TRUE Fees Act of 2019 is still in its early stages and needs both the House and The Senate’s votes. We will have to keep an eye out to see if there is any support for this bill in Congress.
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