On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission will be voting to ensure they won’t have to read your complaints anymore — and Democratic House members are not happy about it.
Two high-ranking Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter addressed to the Commission’s chairman Ajit Pai earlier today to voice their disapproval of a proposed rule that, if approved, would send informal consumer complaints directly through to the company in question. “At a time when consumers are highly dissatisfied with their communications companies, this abrupt change in policy troubles us,” the congressmen wrote.
If the consumer isn’t happy with the outcome of the informal complaint, their only other option would be filing a formal complaint and paying a $225 fee. The Commission’s docket called this move an attempt at streamlining and consolidating “the procedural rules governing formal complaints.” But the procedure has the potential to shut out the voices of consumers when it comes to telecommunications-involved issues.
Last December’s notice of proposed rule-making regarding rolling back the 2015 Open Internet Order received over 20 million comments from advocacy groups and consumers. Under existing rules, all of those comments were required to pass through the agency’s staff, and commissioners were required to take comments into consideration prior to voting on a rule. Under the new rules, those comments wouldn’t pass through the commission at all.
“We have all heard countless stories of consumers complaining to the FCC about waiting months to have an erroneous charge removed from their bill or for a refund for a service they never ordered or about accessibility services that are not working,” the congressman wrote. ”Oftentimes these issues are corrected for consumers as a result of the FCC’s advocacy on their behalf.” Without the FCC addressing those issues, consumers would be left to wrangle with massive telecommunication corporations on their own, or pay a hefty fee to the FCC.
The vote will be held on Thursday during the commission’s Open Meeting, along with a slew of other measures.