Is the FCC Forcing Consumers to Pay $225 to File Complaints? It's Complicated

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Having your voice heard at the Federal Communications Commission could soon cost you hundreds of dollars, according to congressional Democrats who oppose a looming rule change. But that may not be the case after all, a review of the FCC proposal shows.

At issue is a proposal that the FCC is expected to vote on July 12 that looks at the agency’s process for handling “informal” complaints — the kind you might file if you’ve received an unwanted robocall or if you’ve heard something indecent on the radio. Under the proposal, the FCC could pass the informal complaints it receives directly to the companies that consumers are complaining about. That might result in FCC staff no longer reviewing those submissions. And customers who receive no relief from the companies would then be forced to lodge a “formal” complaint at the FCC, an existing procedure that costs $225.

The proposed changes to the FCC rules allow for the agency to send complaints to companies, and they do recommend that consumers who are dissatisfied with the results file a “formal” complaint. But both the new policy and the existing policy are worded similarly. The rest of the FCC proposal largely deals with formal complaints and their associated processes, including fact-finding, conferences between parties that are in dispute and establishing timelines for quick complaint resolution.

The proposed changes alone do not rule out the possibility of the FCC cutting back on its staff’s involvement with consumers who file informal complaints. But the changes do not appear to push consumers toward filing formal complaints any more than the current policy does. And the FCC confirmed that agency officials will remain engaged with informal complainants under the updated policy.

No, the FCC is not forcing consumers to pay $225 to file complaints “This is bonkers”: FCC wants to stop reviewing most complaints about ISPs (ars technica)