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FCC Considering Rule That Would Remove Agency From Reviewing Most Complaints

The Federal Communications Commission is considering a proposal that would allow the agency to back off from being involved in informal complaints filed by consumers against broadband, TV, and phone companies and instead force individuals to pay $225 to file a formal complaint, should they want the FCC’s involvement in rectifying the nature of the complaint.

Currently, individuals are allowed to file informal complaints, which cost nothing, or formal complaints, which cost $225 and initiate a court-like proceeding in which the parties appear before the FCC, according to a published report. The FCC is proposing that it no longer be involved in the informal complaint process. Informal complaints would be referred to the company that is the subject of the complaint, but if the individual is not happy with the company’s response, he or she will have to file a formal complaint and pay the $225. The current rule allows for the FCC to get involved in an informal complaint should it choose to do so. The new proposal would remove the FCC from being involved in informal complaints.

Critics of the move say the change will keep individuals from filing complaints because they will not want to pay the $225. The FCC received 50,000 informal complaints regarding its proposed net neutrality rule in 2015; it received only one formal complaint.

Other agencies, such as the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, do not charge consumers to file complaints.

“This is bonkers. It’s unacceptable,” FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement.


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