Tuesday, June 29, 2004
Carmel on the Case: Wireless Directory
If you own a cell phone, you have reason to be concerned. A new directory could infringe on your privacy. The public listing would allow anyone and everyone to know your number. 7's Carmel Cafiero is on the case.
(WSVN) -- No wait to make an important call. No risk of getting an unwanted call. And no sales pitch from a telemarketer.
That's why Jessica Tugender likes having a cell phone.
Jessica: "I feel like I am unreachable unless I give it to somebody."
But Jessica's privacy could soon be unplugged.
This fall, the industry is starting a wireless directory.
Kim Kuo, CTIA The Wireless Association: "There is a big base of people who want their phone number listed so friends and family and what not can contact them."
165 million Americans have a cell phone, for up to 10 percent it's their only phone.
The directory is meant to help them stay in touch.
Kevin Santos, cell phone user: "If it's an emergency and somebody has to get a hold of me why not be able to do it like that."
But the directory decision is causing a lot of static over possible fees and privacy.
The industry says they can clear that all up.
Kim Kuo: "The consumer has the choice of opting in or out. There are no fees either way."
But the wires cross when you look at the fine print of several contracts. You may have already agreed to be charged to get out of the directory. Companies say they won't hold you to that deal.. but that promise could easily get disconnected.
Wireless Analyst Roger Entner: "In the end it's still the contract you signed and while they say well today we are not planning to do that, they might change their mind months, years down the road and there's nothing you can do about it."
This directory has dialed up concern all the way to the nation's Capitol.
Congress could mandate the directory remain free when it comes to choice and fees.
Roger Entner: "Money talks in the end, people don't do that out of the goodness of their heart they do this to make money."
Kim Kuo: "We believe there are good safeguards to make sure it's a positive experience and a good service for people."
For one.. your cell number will not be put in a phone book, someone will have to pay for 411 to get it.
And F.C.C laws block most calls from telemarketers, to end the rest you can sign up for the do not call list.
Kim Kuo: "You can actually have double protection against telemarketers with a wireless phone."
All of the national carriers plan to participate in the directory with the exception of Verizon.
J. Abra Degbor from Verizon Wireless: "We have had a significant number of customers call us and thank us."
Whether you sign up for the directory or not...it's always best to get everything in writing not just by word of mouth. If there is something you think we should investigate give me a call or send an e-mail. We'll take a look.
For more information, or if you have a story for Carmel:
Call her in Dade at 305-627-CLUE
Or in Broward at 954-921-CLUE