Illinois: We Want To Cancel With No ETF If Our Phone Breaks 3 Times

According to the Chicago Tribune, Rep. Susana Mendoza, a Chicago Democrat is fed up with her lemon cell phone. That’s why she’s sponsoring legislation in Illinois that would :

allow the state’s 8.5 million wireless customers to cancel their contracts without paying early termination fees if a phone must be replaced or repaired at least three times within a contract period.

Consumers would also have the option to upgrade or downgrade phones without extending their service agreements, and companies would have to provide customers with a written statement informing them of their rights. Damage caused by consumers would not be covered.

The cell phone companies are naturally against it, and mysteriously uninformed about what to say to newspapers…

“This provides a road map for customers to get out of their contracts if all they do is complain aggressively enough,” said Mike McDermott, executive director of state public policy for Verizon. “Why not let cable subscribers cancel their contracts if they have bad reception three times in a row? It’s a treacherous path.”

By a show of hands, who here has been charged an ETF for canceling Comcast? Anyone? —MEGHANN MARCO

Cell-phone lemon law sought by legislator [Chicago Tribune] (Thanks, Scott!)
(Photo: stirwise)

Comments

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  1. Youthier says:

    Good Lord! If everyone was allowed to cancel unsatisfactory services, companies may have to improve quality! How terrible!

  2. silverlining says:

    “Why not let cable subscribers cancel their contracts if they have bad reception three times in a row? It’s a treacherous path.”


    Treacherous, indeed. Heaven forbid service providers like cell phone or cable companies get it right the FIRST (or even the 3rd) time.

  3. kevin104 says:

    I almost agree… I think it would be awfully difficult to hold a carrier responsible for the phone manufacturer’s problems. If Samsung makes a piece of junk phone, how is that Cingular’s (or Verizon or Sprint) fault? It shouldn’t be.
    I think it would be reasonable to allow people to cancel their contracts ETF free if they are not getting the service they are supposed to. If Sprint says I should have service at my house, then I should. If I don’t, I want out of my contract without penalty.

  4. RumorsDaily says:

    “Why not let cable subscribers cancel their contracts if they have bad reception three times in a row? It’s a treacherous path.”

    This sounds like the sort of statement you make when your wife handles dealing with the cable company for you.

  5. gibbersome says:

    “Why not let cable subscribers cancel their contracts if they have bad reception three times in a row? It’s a treacherous path.”

    Mike McDermott is so fired!

  6. petre says:

    “Why not let cable subscribers cancel their contracts if they have bad reception three times in a row?”

    Jolly good idea, old chap

  7. BillyMumphry says:

    You can cancel cable without penalty, at least with Time Warner.

    I don’t really understand this woman’s argument. She wants to be able to cancel her cell phone service, because of the quality of her hardware? What does one have to do with the other? I wish you could cancel cell service if it just sucks where you live,but i don’t see the logic here.

  8. niccernicus says:

    “Consumers would also have the option to upgrade or downgrade phones without extending their service agreements, and companies would have to provide customers with a written statement informing them of their rights. Damage caused by consumers would not be covered.”

    This is an interesting scenario! Granted, you’re free to “purchase” a new phone whenever at full price, but it would be nice to be able to get the contract price for upgrading a faulty phone.

  9. chimmike says:

    this will never, ever pass. Lobbyists are probably already full-force against it as we speak.

  10. Buran says:

    Uh, you don’t sign a contract to get cable service, last I checked. There may be discounts on top of standard service if you do, but I’ve NEVER signed a contract for cable.

    Before opening your mouth, stupid corporate spokesperson, do your research.

  11. Buran says:

    @BillyMumphry: Because she got unacceptably poor quality goods and the company wants to charge her to replace their poor quality offering, and if she says “fine if you want to charge me I’m leaving” they want to charge her for that too.

    This would force companies to improve service and not stick customers with the bill for their shortsighted laziness.

  12. anexkahn says:

    I’m against long term cellular phone contracts, but i’m even more opposed to the government legislating against them. I’d much rather see an up and comming cell carrier break the trend through successfully marketing their services without long term contracts.

  13. benn09 says:

    Having had a terrible LG phone from Cingular that was replaced with the same model twice in two days and then “upgraded” to a Nokia, I can understand wanting to hold the cell phone companies accountable. They had to have known that this product was not up-to-date enough to keep up with the supercharged SIM Cards, yet they continued to sell the phones and replace the broken phones with, yup, you guessed it, another broken phone.

  14. LAGirl says:

    not sure about Comcast, but DirecTV has a one + TWO year contract, and they have VERY sneaky ways of trying to get you on it.

    i recently realized that i was missing a lot of channels. when i called CS, i found out that my plan was no longer available. i’d need to pick another plan, which would cost an extra $20 per month. same plan, different name…more money!

    when i complained that i should have been notified BEFORE the programming changes and BEFORE i lost the channels, what did they offer me for my troubles? a $5 per month credit. BUT, i would have to commit to a one year contract to get the credit. if i cancelled before the 1 year was up, i would be charged a fee. i declined their generous offer.

    after some searching, i found this on their website:

    “Programming Commitment

    – You agree to pay for 12 consecutive months (for standard receivers) or 24 consecutive months (for advanced receivers) of a $29.99/mo. or above programming package. [a 2 year commitment for an HD receiver!]
    – You agree to pay a $4.99/mo. lease fee for your second and each additional receiver.
    – If you do not fulfill your Programming Commitment, DIRECTV may charge you a fee of up to $150 for standard equipment or $300 for advanced receivers (!!).”

    also found this, re: equipment activation:

    “If you fail to activate all of your DIRECTV equipment in accordance with this Equipment Lease Addendum, you agree that DIRECTV or an authorized DIRECTV Retailer may charge you a fee, as liquidated damages, of $150 for each receiver that is not activated.”

    and you thought DirecTV wasn’t as douche-y as all the other guys. silly you! if you make ANY changes to your existing account, make sure you ask if it will trigger a new ‘Programming Commitment’.

  15. shdwsclan says:

    I never had any commitment….probably because I own the equipment…..

  16. yegoshin says:

    @kevin104
    I almost agree… I think it would be awfully difficult to hold a carrier responsible for the phone manufacturer’s problems. If Samsung makes a piece of junk phone, how is that Cingular’s (or Verizon or Sprint) fault? It shouldn’t be.

    Yea except did you ever consider that Verizon and Sprint ONLY let you activate the phones THEY SELL. Thus they ARE responsible for them. Hey maybe every phone they sell gets kicked around the loading dock before going on the shelf.

    Someone needs to send Rep. Susana Mendoza this little PDF: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=962027

  17. automatic_blue says:

    Verizon customer here. Good god, could we please see something like this nationwide? From the late 90’s until 2004, I had one Motorola Star-Tac, which was black and kinda clunky but worked fantastically until it stopped one day, and the Verizon tech just gave me another star-tac lying in the backroom because it was so old or something. That was nice

    Fast forward to now, 2004-2007, and I’ve had a v710 and a RAZR, each of which had crapped out four or more times.

    Apparently Motorola is having quality control issues – of course it doesn’t help that Verizon shoves some buggy proprietary OS on all of their phones.

  18. suckonthat says:

    I think most of the comments seem to be overlooking the whole supposed point behind ETFs: cell phone companies need them because they lose money on the phones.

    I think that is a giant load of horse shit, but that’s the reason they point to when asked why ETFs are absolutely necessary. ETFs are in exchange for functional phones, therefore dysfunctional phones should equal no ETFs. Also, I am very confident that the cell phone companies know what phones are crap and sell them anyway if they know they can.

    Also, the comparison used by McDermott is off – it would be like having a contract with my cable company (uncommon, yes) and my cable box has to go back to the company to be replaced 3 times in the first 2 months. Yes, you should be able to cancel the service at that point because it is a burden and not working the way in which you signed up for it.

    and automatic_blue, I friggin loved that star-tac phone and if it had texting abilities and still worked on the Verizon system, I would still be using it.

  19. Deusfaux says:

    @kevin104:

    Are you kidding?

    They select phones by an intensive months-long process – out of all the phones on the market they are choosing *THESE* ones to provide to their customers. If they pick a pile of bricks, it is absolutely their responsibility to the customer, to fix the problem in a timely and efficient manner.

  20. a_m_m_b says:

    Why have this at the State level? This really needs to be at the Federal level as the Feds are supposed to be regulating wireless matters.
    While I’m not a big fan of regulation for regulation’s sake, I am less a fan of “waiting for the market to correct the matter.” Cell phones are a mature enough technology. There is no excuse for the utterly abusive BS running rampent throughout the industry!

    If I’ve paid in full for my phone, which is required whether it’s 1st on contract or an upgrade, then I need to be able to get my phone repaired &/or replaced in a timely, effecient manner whenever the phone fails to perform. You sold it so you are responsible if you carry & sell POS phones. Don’t like it? Better research your stock BEFORE selling it.

  21. EdKeler says:

    The bottom line is that we have to end provider-centric service models and switch to device-centric service models. What it means is that you buy the phone you want, perhaps expensive, then you shop for a wireless service provider (best package possible) – no contract. Line Number Porting is one of the first steps toward these new models. We should be able to switch providers as needed and end this wireless monopoly they have created. We have spoiled companies like Sprint and pay a high price for it. Remember ATT’s monopoly on the ground line telephony. We all know what happened to ATT. And it is time to change how wireless service is being offered nowadays. Think about, it is not just Sprint – it is the current wireless business model which hurts us – the customers.