Consumer Action, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, has been championing the cause of underrepresented consumers nationwide since 1971. On March 9, they announced the launch of a new innovative program – the Wireless Education Project (Wireless Ed).
Developed by Consumer Action and sponsored by AT&T, the program, which is carrier neutral, was developed to help consumers learn about mobile voice and data services and to provide insights as to ways to manage use of mobile services in a cost-effective way. Ken McEldowney, Executive Director of Consumer Action, speaks for most Americans when he says, “as we all rely on our wireless devices more and more every day, none of us want to be surprised by unexpected charges in our monthly bills.”
The program is especially of value to African American consumers, since they are the largest users of mobile broadband. An interactive program, WirelessEd boasts tools such as a data calculator, which helps consumers estimate how much data they are likely to use in a month.
With this initiative, Consumer Action is creating a multilingual educational module that contains three brochures and a training packet to assist community based organizations (CBOs) in educating their members both one-on-one and through group presentations. Informational brochures and trainings will be provided throughout the country through Consumer Action’s network of more than 8,000 CBOs, helping more than 200,000 hard-to-reach consumers.
The same information can also be found on the WirelessEd website. Additionally, the website has a data usage estimator, and has also compiled up to date information on data, devices, and “Tips for Picking Your Best Plan.” It will also host a section on how to navigate and better understand data roaming charges.
Initial “train-the-trainer” sessions will be held in Atlanta, Houston, and San Francisco beginning in June, and will consist of hands-on training for community-based organization staff on how best to use the project’s materials in assisting their clients.
The brochures will cover the following topics: understanding wireless data, mobile applications and tools available for monitoring usage, international roaming, and selecting the right wireless devices, including information on new smartphones and features that best fit the consumer’s needs. Program materials will be available in English, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, and Vietnamese. A multilingual hotline, 415-777-9635, will provide advice and referrals as well.