Marketing Practices and Consumer Protections

Background

Telecommunications companies sometimes use aggressive marketing practices. In some cases, these have resulted in unnecessary consumer costs or even outright fraud . For example, some companies have marketed inside-wire maintenance to apartment dwellers even though renters often have no authority or responsibility for the upkeep of inside wire. Telecommunications companies also sometimes attempt to “upsell” services through aggressive or deceptive tactics. This can lead to consumers buying services that they do not want or need.

MARKETING PRACTICES AND CONSUMER PROTECTIONS: Policy

Protecting consumers

In this policy: State

Policymakers should prohibit telecommunications service providers from engaging in unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts and practices. This includes fraudulent or misleading marketing.

States should also:

  • provide meaningful remedies for fraudulent and deceptive marketing;
  • require telephone companies to provide consumers with the necessary information to obtain the company’s most economical service or services to meet their needs;
  • restrict the marketing or upselling of optional services when a consumer calls to inquire about essential service so that only basic information about the option’s availability and price are provided;
  • prohibit telephone companies from changing a monthly billing cycle to another billing period unless the customer agrees in writing to such a change; and
  • ensure that service providers clearly and conspicuously present inside-wire maintenance as an addition to basic service and only under stringent advertising guidelines.