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Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
News media information 202 / 418-0500
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TTY: 202/418-2555

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

October 23, 2001
Rosemary Kimball at (202) 418-0511


Data Will Help Commission, Companies and the Public To Track Trends

Washington, DC - The FCC's Consumer Information Bureau (CIB) has released the first of what will be quarterly reports on the numbers and types of complaints and inquiries the Bureau has received from the public. The attached report is a tabulation of the most common complaints and inquiries received at CIB's Consumer Centers during the third quarter of this year on broadcast, cable, wireless and wireline telecommunications issues.

The statistics illustrate that, for both wireline and wireless telecommunications services, billing-related complaints comprise the largest category.

While these data indicate the volume of complaints received at the Commission's Consumer Centers, they do not include complaints received by other FCC offices or complaints made to state agencies and the companies themselves. The data also indicate that the Commission receives mass mailings, which are classified as neither complaints nor inquiries but are considered in the Commission's decision-making processes.

Consumer Information Bureau Chief K. Dane Snowden said, "The statistics in this report will allow CIB to play a pro-active role in alerting the Commission to potential problems that may require further consumer education efforts or policy changes. They also help in the Commission's strategic goal of acting as a bridge between government, industry and consumers to ensure that consumers' voices are heard and their concerns are addressed. We are well aware, of course, that many of the complaints we receive do not involve violations of FCC rules and the existence of a complaint does not necessarily indicate any wrongdoing by the company involved."

Complaints are defined as correspondence received at the FCC from individuals who complain about the actions or omissions of entities regulated by the FCC. Inquiries are defined as correspondence received at the Commission from individuals seeking information on matters under the FCC's jurisdiction.

Attached to the report is a subject reference guide that defines each complaint category and a list of questions and answers about the statistics.

-FCC -

Consumer Information Bureau contact: Thomas Wyatt at (202) 418-1400.

For more information about this or any other FCC matter contact the FCC's Consumer Center at 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322), voice; or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322), TTY; email us at or visit our Web site at


What does the Bureau hope to accomplish in compiling and releasing complaint and inquiry data?

The Commission relies on its consumer complaint processes to identify practices that may violate the Communications Act and the FCC’s rules and orders or which otherwise may be harmful to consumers and to competition. This complaint and inquiry data will play a crucial role in alerting the Commission and the public to potential problems that may require consumer education efforts or other regulatory intervention. The FCC also places a high premium on providing accurate, up-to-date information to consumers to assist them in making informed choices about the many products and services that are available to them in the dynamic telecommunications marketplace.

Why is the Bureau releasing data only about the top complaint and inquiry subjects?

Highlighting the top complaint categories may help prepare consumers to be on the lookout for potential issues or problems as they shop among the many competing telecommunications service providers. It may also assist companies in targeting those aspects of their service offerings that may be generating the greatest consumer confusion or dissatisfaction.

Is the complaint data that you compile shared with other FCC Bureaus and Offices?

Yes. One of the Bureau’s principal functions is to compile information that can be evaluated by the Enforcement Bureau and other FCC Bureaus and Offices for purposes of determining whether some form of FCC intervention is required to protect consumers. For example, in recent years the number and nature of complaints filed by consumers regarding the content and format of their telephone bills were principal reasons the FCC initiated its truth-in-billing proceedings for wireline services. The Bureau routinely shares the information it compiles with other Bureaus and Offices for such purposes.

Does the Bureau share its complaint data with the companies that it regulates?

Yes. The regulated companies have access to complaint data compiled by the Bureau to the same extent as any private party. Frequently, the Bureau will convene meetings with one or more companies based on complaint trends we discern in certain areas. Similarly, companies often ask for meetings to apprise staff of issues or problems they have discovered in addressing issues and problems presented to them directly by consumers. These companies generally appreciate the input or feedback provided by the staff based on our communications with consumers and handling of consumer complaints. In that same vein, the staff is able gain some insight into why particular company policies and practices may be generating consumer complaints and identify actions that the Commission and/or companies can take to better inform and serve consumers.