A California Democrat wants the FCC to be more transparent about the consumer complaints the agency receives during the pandemic. Rep. Jerry McNerney urged Chairman Ajit Pai to publish the thousands of notices Americans have filed with the Commission that complain about internet service shutoffs, billing issues and other issues at a time when many internet service providers have promised to be lenient with customers affected by COVID.
McNerney asked for the information during the House FCC oversight hearing in September. In October, the FCC posted general information on its website, but did not include any specific information about the complaints and if or how they were resolved, according to the lawmaker.
He doesn’t believe the Commission’s efforts to provide transparency concerning these consumer issues this year are enough. “While your agency has made available a summary of the complaints on its website, the information that has been shared is incomplete,” wrote McNerney in a letter to the agency. “The American people deserve to know about the specific problems that are arising, whether the problems are being resolved, and how long it is taking to resolve them. Unfortunately, none of this information is publicly posted on your agency’s website.”
“It is concerning that more than seven months into the pandemic you have still not been fully upfront with the public about the problems that consumers have been facing,” continued McNerney.
The so-called Keep Americans Connected pledge enlisted nearly 800 companies to suspend service disconnections based on overdue bills, waive late payment fees, and open WiFi hotspots to the public. However, the pledge expired at the end of June. Many ISPs and carriers have kept up with the pledge, but not all, Inside Towers reported.
McNerney asked Pai to ensure the agency releases details about these complaints by this Friday, November 13, including the text of the complaints and the status of whether they’ve been resolved. He also asked that the FCC disclose whether any of the complaints were referred to its Enforcement Bureau for investigation and whether the agency found examples of providers that broke their pledges.
Pai said in May the agency was handling over 2,000 consumer complaints related to the pandemic, according to Law360. He has consistently praised ISPs and carriers for helping consumers during the pandemic. “Many of you went above and beyond what was in the pledge, from offering discounts to low-income consumers to increasing speeds for free,” he said in October.
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