Sprint Sued For Illegally Extending Customers' Contracts

Sprint got hit with a class-action lawsuit for illegally extending customer’s contracts. Like most cellphone providers, up until recently they would put you in a new two-year contract if you added minutes, got a new phone, got refunds, or wore a blue shirt on Tuesday.

Sprint Nextel hit with class action [RCR]
(Photo: Getty)

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  1. dorianh49 says:

    Thanks for the heads up!! I just burned all my blue shirts.

  2. ribex says:

    Oh, you mean customers’ contracts. I thought you were referring to one customer with multiple contracts.

  3. PinkBox says:

    Bleh. I recently had to renew my Sprint contract coz I bought a new phone.

    The kicker is that I wanted to switch to Verizon but found out my contract with Sprint didn’t end until September.

    The reason it didn’t end until September was because I switched to a different plan because I wasn’t using enough minutes on the one I was on.

  4. Tank says:

    I wonder if them fuckers will let me out of my contract without the ETF now.

  5. Jon Parker says:

    Knowing how class action lawsuits work, the award to attorneys will be $20 million. The award to plaintiffs will be a two year contract extension.

  6. Bay State Darren says:

    I just thought about Sprint while reading this article, does that mean they extended my contract?!

  7. rachmanut says:

    In 2002 I made changes to my Sprint plan and was asked to agree to a 1-year contract extension via button-push over the phone, which I agreed to. Shortly after portability went through in late 2003 I was ready to jump ship to Verizon, but Sprint claimed I had agreed to a 2-year contract. I disagreed, asked them to look at the record of my button-push. They said it would be difficult to do that, I said if they couldn’t show the contract they had to let me out of it, and that was that. Based on what I read here, it seems the CSRs have gotten a lot more combative since then.

  8. arch05 says:

    Happened to me, for no reason at all. One reason why I said screw Sprint & changed providers.

  9. SacraBos says:

    @NameGoesHere: I bought a phone off EBay. Switch the SIM chip with my old phone, and I’m not under contract anymore. And there wasn’t much difference in the price of the new phone and what I would have gotten with a 2 year contract.

  10. socalrob of the 24 and a half century says:

    AT&T does this also. But they tell you when you do it. They told me that I can change any add ons to my plan for free, but if I changed the actual minutes plan then I had to pay. So I can add text messages, data, ringtone, whatever services, but if I go to a higher minute plan then I have to pay. But considering I have over 3k rollover minutes who needs a new plan. Gotta love Rollover!

    @NameGoesHere:
    Thats what you get for being locked into a service provider that doesn’t use sim card capable phones. In their defense sprint does, or at least used to, let you switch to another phone that you bought elsewhere. I had to do that when I had sprint, but they couldn’t get it to work for some reason.

    I hate AT&T for their shady business practices, but at least now I don’t have to sign up for a new contract just to get a new phone. Either I pay AT&T’s full price for the phone or go on Ebay and get a new unlocked phone for half price and throw in my sim card.

  11. blitzcat says:

    Happened to my family when we tried to leave Sprint. We hadn’t renewed anything in 4 years, but suddenly they said we renewed 3 months ago for a courtesy discount. Umm, NO, only in your alternative universe sprint. We badgered and badgered and got out.

  12. rolla says:

    what i wonder is that the carriers claim to have the 2 yr contracts in order to recoup the costs of the phone; however, what happens when you buy a new phone a full price? or after the 2 yrs, you want to just change your plan?? why do they still require you to sign a contract when you already fulfilled the cost of the phone?

  13. chstwnd says:

    @SacraBos:
    what the heck are you talking about? Sprint doesn’t use sim cards. And I suspect that they don’t simply because it would be child’s play to get a new phone, then. As it stands, I’ve heard countless times (and experienced a few myself) when people have tried to get a new phone from friends, sales listings (craigslist, et al.), or eBay, and not been able to activate because of some obscure reference to the phone “not being released” from the other account. This pretty much leaves you with the option of buying from them (Sprint) and necessarily extending your contract because all of their phone discounts require contract extensions.

  14. samurailynn says:

    @chstwnd: Nextel, which is now Sprint, uses SIM cards. I know because we have them in our phones.

    Where do I sign up to get a piece of this lawsuit action? We’ve had our contract extended way too many times, and without even telling us.

  15. RenardRouge says:

    Sprint doesn’t extend your contract anymore when switching plans — only if you buy a new phone from them and get a rebate.

  16. CuriousO says:

    @samurailynn: They do use SIM cards but Nextel uses an iDen network, so you will not be able to use a GSM phone with Nextel. Since iDen is motorola then finding an unlocked nextel phone is basically impossible.

  17. chstwnd says:

    Samurailynn, I wasn’t aware of that. I thought NEXTEL was on the same type of network as Sprint proper (CDMA), and just got wholly assimilated.
    I was under the impression that sim cards only worked on GSM/GPRS networks because of the way the identifiers work.
    So, Sprint has the capability to expand their use of sim cards, and has chosen not to?

  18. BrianH says:

    This happened to me 2x within a year with them. Even after receiving email confirmation that it had been “fixed” it hadn’t, and apparently the emails were worthless because they couldn’t “verify the authenticity of the emails” (fuming).

    So I took a scorched earth approach and won. By scorched earth, I mean I emailed & wrote the executives, I wrote the board of directors, I commented about it on every blog & forum I could think of, I emailed the local news station, I told every co-worker, I spoke loudly of it within every Sprint store I was near, etc…

    If our legislators gave a f*** about us, they’d make it so that NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO (am I making myself clear?) extensions can be made to any cellphone contract without either a) your signature below a written description of the terms, or b) an audio recording of the person being read the new terms and saying “Yes I understand and agree.” There is literally nothing stopping a Sprint marmoset from punching a little “2 year renewal” button while you’re on the phone complaining about a bogus $2 international call.

    “What, I have another 18 mos on my contract?!?!? WTF?!?!? When did that happen?”
    “6 months ago, you called in.”
    “Yeah to fix a fuggin’ problem! I didn’t change plans, add a phone, threaten your firstborn or play checkers!!! What do you mean my contract was renewed?!?!?!”
    “Sorry sir, I’m just telling you what it says….”

    IT SUCKS.

    Ok I’m gonna go take a Valium now….

  19. WowWashington says:

    Funny – I have my parents on my contract but they don’t have my account password and live 200 miles away.

    I gave my mom verbal permission to get her phone replaced – but I never told the csr at their local sprint store that they could.

    My mom then goes to the store and starts getting the phone replaced.

    While I was still on the phone with my mom, the sprint csr added the phone and extended the contract – without getting the account password. When this was all done, I asked mom to put me on the phone with the csr – and then I asked the csr if she wanted me to prove my identity – she said “No, I heard you give the OK to your mom” – how can she hear that, let alone – prove who I was without ever talking to me?

    I thought about causing trouble with this, but let it slide – I get a decent discount with my employer – and last time I took an issue to the Att General of Washington state, it took way too long – however, I won that argument – and got the exec’s involved to disagree with each others statement to me and the Att Gen :)

  20. Empire says:

    @chstwnd: This happened to us recently with MetroPCS. They said they needed it released from the previous owner or we had to wait until it cleared their system (30 days after the account went delinquent, I believe). The previous owner was some jerk who wouldn’t release it (ebay buyers beware!). We waited the 30 days, they released the phone, we activated it, no problems. The whole process seemed legit enough.

  21. Pink Puppet says:

    While only the lawyers are going to get any money out of this, it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside to hear that Sprint is getting sued. Their technology and software is such crap, which forced a number of fixes to issues that were Sprint’s fault to automatically extend contracts, sometimes in a fashion that the CSR didn’t even realize it was the case.

    I’m glad Sprint is getting what’s coming to them.

  22. 3drage says:

    I’d like to get in on this. A few years back I decreased my service right before my contract was almost up. I did it via their web site and there was no warning that my contract would be extended two years (didn’t even get a new phone out of it). I was glad they changed their “taxes” so I could give them the finger and cancel my account. But yeah, I’m pretty ticked off that they did this.

  23. 3drage says:

    I’d like to get in on this. Online I decreased my minutes and the next thing I know I was locked into another two year contract. I didn’t even get a new phone out of it. There was no warning on the web site, and it was only a few month until my contract was up. Luckily when they changed their rates I got out of the contract without an ETF. But yeah, I’m pretty ticked off at the company.

  24. pigeonpenelope says:

    verizon did that to me. i was pissed.

  25. jamar0303 says:

    @chstwnd: Yes. Over in China the CDMA provider uses SIM cards, as do CDMA providers in Japan, Thailand,and possibly some other Asian countries. It hasn’t caught on in the Americas (North and South) yet.

  26. samurailynn says:

    @CuriousO: Yeah, I guess Nextel is using a different network. I honestly just can’t wait to be out of a cell phone contract. I use it so little that I’m probably just going to go prepaid. I’d probably only need 400 minutes a year.

  27. goodkitty says:

    @BrianH: Hah hah hah… well at least you can sue them… oh wait, you can’t. How did they get past the binding arbitration clause?

  28. Nicholai says:

    Scary! Our contract is up in under a year, and since my phone has broken down TWO times now, I just want it all to end!

  29. deepsprint says:

    If you are in the last six months of your Sprint contract and call Sprint for any reason your call will be routed to an American (instead of the usual off-shore) call center to something called the “Advantage Agreement” group. Advantage Agreement or AA is the nicest euphemism they could think up for “Contract”.

    Their job in AA is to do whatever it is you called them for and then renew your contract. They crack the whip over there to renew those agreements but they never say the word contract when speaking to the customer. The good ones, who make pretty good commissions, do a lot of fast talking about saving money. So your kid or your spouse just calls to get texting added or whatever, and they get tricked into renewing the contract thinking they are just getting some kind of discount. If you don’t catch it when you get the contract confirmation letter you’ll notice it when you port your numbers out and get hit with early term fees.

    There is definitely slamming going on over there by reps who know they are not going to be working in their crummy call center job much longer and just want to bonus one more time before heading out the door. Sprint really needs to clean AA up because when people eventually find out their contract has been renewed and have no memory of it, they have just made an enemy for life.

  30. theblackdog says:

    So when will they nail Verizon for this?

  31. MYarms says:

    How do you get in on this lawsuit? I know someone who has several lines on her account and since one person bought a new phone, the whole account was renewed even though she was trying to cancel a few of the lines.

  32. NYC_consumer says:

    Canceled Sprint service after seven years (and never extended my initial 2-year contract.) However Sprint insisted on a $200 ETF. Bottom line: Corporate criminals.

  33. rennett38 says:

    My contract was extended by Sprint on or around September 2007 when I called to change my plan to add more minutes for use. I was told my contract would be extended for one year for changing my plan. I thought this is ludicrous but I was forced to agree because I needed more minutes on my cell phone. I was thinking that I am upgrading with your company for goodness sakes. I think companys should not be able to extend contracts just for making changes on the account.

    Signed flustered in Arkansas

  34. spiritualpoet says:

    The “last straw” in which I departed Sprint was when my service was finally month-to-month (beyond the 2 year contract). I wanted to add nights beginning at 7 pm for an additional $10/monthly charge. The CSR made the change and renewed my contract for 2 years without mentioning it. I hollared when I got a letter from Sprint informing me of the “change”. Sprint added a notation to my account that it was month-to-month but would not prove it in writing to me. I said to Sprint (and to Consumer’s Union, publisher of Consumer Reports) that I wasn’t changing plans but adding an “option” / feature to an existing plan. I believe it is wrong to extend contracts on changing services, add-ons, features/benefits if one is not changing a plan with one bucketful of minutes to another pricier (or cheaper) plan with a different bucketful of minutes. Does anyone else agree? If not, why?

  35. Anonymous says:

    The solution is simple. Prepaid. I use Boost and am happy with it. Stay away from Tracfone. (are they even still around?)

    Sprint can go phugg themselves. They will not collect one damn dime from me! I experienced a service outage for a week in my area near Chicago. Missed a job offer because of it. CS said it was the hurricane. (whichever that last one was back in September) Then they were going to ax the PCS mail. I had the Simply Everything plan. I thought that meant simply everything that was there when I signed up. Such a fool was I to believe that words actually meant stuff. Last straw, that. I put the phone away, went back to my Boostie (which I kept active as a spare) and they haven’t seen another check from me since.

    Do I give a shite about credit rating? Not damn likely. My credit’s been bad for 20 years. I’ve learned to live with it. The collectors can burn out their autodialers if they like. I AINT PAYING THEM!