California PUC Adopts New Wireless Phone Regulations

California on Thursday became the first state in the nation to adopt consumer protections for cell phone customers.

May 28, 2004

1 Min Read
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SAN RAMON, Calif. (AP) -- California on Thursday became the first state in the nation to adopt consumer protections for cell phone customers.

The state Public Utilities Commission approved the Telecommunications Consumer Bill of Rights on a 3-2 vote.

In one of the biggest changes, dissatisfied consumers will have the right to cancel their wireless service within 30 days of signing a contract.

Other changes include requiring all rates and other services terms to be posted on the Internet; requiring key contract terms to be in readable type, not fine print; and requiring carriers to list the address and toll-free number of regulators to make it easier for customers to file complaints.

``These are 'Thou Shalt Not Deceive The Customer' rules,'' said commission board member Geoffrey Brown, who wrote the proposal passed Thursday.Opponents contend the rules will create new layers of bureaucracy and impose new costs that will be passed on to consumers. The wireless industry has estimated the price increases triggered by the rules could range from $4 to $17 per month.

The commission said it received more than 5,000 complaints from California consumers last year about wireless companies; nationally, the Council of Better Business Bureaus said wireless carriers are the No. 2 topic of complaints filed with its bureaus, second only to auto dealers.

Wireless industry leaders promised to explore all options, including court action, to overturn Thursday's decision.

``These rules simply represent a leap to judgment that is fundamentally inconsistent with a vigorous and competitive marketplace,'' said Steve Largent, president of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association, an industry trade group.

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