Illinois Cellphone Lemon Law Approved, Moves On To State Senate

We like the basic idea behind this law, which is: If your cellphone breaks 3 times, you can cancel with no ETF. We’re sure it’s more complicated than that, but that’s the basic idea.

Cellphone companies predictably hate this idea, invoking all sorts of scary “slippery slope” logic to combat it. According to the Tribune, “Rep. Susana Mendoza, D-Chicago, says her bill is meant to hold wireless companies accountable by giving dissatisfied customers an option.”

There really is no reason that a person should be stuck with a 2 year contract and a phone that keeps breaking. It happened to Susana and that’s how she got the idea for the law. Critics of the bill claim that it will drive up prices, which, we hate to say it, is what critics of everything say.

If you support this law, you can let your state senator know about it. If you’re not from Illinois, we suppose you could still let them know. Say you’re from Schaumburg. Seems like everyone is from there. —MEGHANN MARCO

House OKs cell phone ‘lemon law’ [Chicago Tribune] (Thanks, Mary!)
(Photo: fonticulus)

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


Edit Your Comment

  1. kerry says:

    I like this law, too. At first it seemed a little extreme, but after mulling it over for a while I realized it makes great sense. Cell phone companies discount your phone, and in exchange you sign a contract and agree to pay them a lump sum if you break the contract. If that subsidized phone doesn’t work as advertised, and cannot be repaired or replaced by an equal handset, the contract should be dissolved. You shouldn’t have to hold up your end of the bargain if they won’t hold up theirs.

  2. martyz says:

    What moron critics claim this will drive up prices? The whole point of a cell phone is for it to WORK the FIRST TIME! Now, cell phones will be more expensive because they have to be functional??? Lordy.

  3. pestie says:

    “It’ll drive up prices!” is just corporate America’s standard objection to anything and everything.

  4. rugger_can says:

    No, its corporate America’s standard THREAT to prevent any logical action against them.

  5. Naperville too…seems like a lot of ppl are from there too.

  6. snazz says:

    i still fail to see how a cell phone service provider, such as sprint or verizon, should be responsible for a 3rd party’s hardware. Sprint provides the service, Samsung provides the hardware for me to use that service. If my iBook has numerous problems and fails often, should verizon let me out of my DSL contract?! no! this isnt any different.

  7. Employees Must Wash Hands says:


    Verizon didn’t sell you an iBook that was constructed to Verizon’s specifications, branded with Verizon’s logo, to be used only with Verizon DSL service.

    This is what the cellular carriers do with phones, and they have a responsibility to stand behind what they’ve sold you.

  8. Smoking Pope says:

    @snazz: But if your DSL carrier sold you your service and gave you an iBook as an inducement to sign for 2 years, and then the iBook didn’t work, you’d want recourse because they gave you faulty merchandise, right?

  9. BritBoy says:

    @snazz: its very different. Just one more difference : an iBook is used for many functions and is perfectly functional with or without DSL service. The Verizon airtime&service is completely uselessly without a Verizon approved phone; equally the phone is useless without a Verizon airtime contract.

  10. 44 in a Row says:

    Also, carriers do have phones that are self-branded. Take a look at the Cingular 8125, or the T-Mobile Dash. Of course, in reality those phones are developed and manufactured by HTC just like the Dell Axim, the HP iPaq, the i-mate JAM, and countless other devices. But if it’s sold as a Cingular product, then Cingular has to support it.

  11. Always amazes me how something that constantly happens to everyday consumers is no big deal until the same thing happens to a politician, then suddenly a law to mandate accountability is required.

    As far as branding goes. Going by the logic above, if the cruise control breaks under warranty on my Saturn I should deal with Siemens not GM.

  12. banned says:

    This is a ridiculous law. People who want out of their contract will continously call with unprovable problems like “dropped calls”. What happens next? Companies will refuse to replace phones, argue they work fine, and to those who have real problems will get the shaft. Say good-bye to warranties.
    When I worked for T-Mobile, we would give you a new phone if yours was replaced twice and now a 3rd time in 90 days and people would lie to get the free phone, like they won’t lie to get out of a contract. It seems to me Mrs Mendoza should have spent some money on a good phone and not opt for the crappy free phones companies can’t wait to give away.
    Also, what if I buy my phone from motorola or T-Mobile but using cingular, can I still cancel?
    This is the problem with people today. They can’t accept how they drop thier phones 20 times/year, never turn it off, yet blame the supplier when things go wrong. If my modem breaks, I don’t blame my ISP. If my car breaks, I don’t blame the dealer. Phones break people, they always have and always will, so SUCK IT UP!

  13. shdwsclan says:

    Im not sure if this is actually a good law…

    I mean, i had a mpx220 from moto, and it started crapping out and they swapped it without restarting my contract….and they swapped out the razr too….so i dont get what the problem was….

    Its probably those pda phones….i got one know that keeps shutting off for no identifiable reason so im gonna get it replaced….

  14. @rocnrule: If they helped the people with actual problems in the first place laws like this wouldn’t get passed.

    If anything, it shouldn’t take a law to be able to terminate a cell phone contract without penalty when the company doesn’t hold up their end of the agreement.

  15. tschepsit says:

    “Say you’re from Schaumburg. Seems like everyone is from there.” – Was your suggestion to use Motorola’s hometown intentional?

  16. OldtimeWireless says:

    Do wireless phone companies need to make changes to some of their policies, yes. Do the users of wireless phones need to be more realistic in their expectations, yes. Will the two ever meet eye to eye? Not ruddy likely. Why? Because unfortunately you cannot legislate intelligence.

    One of the changes I think would be good is to eliminate contracts all together or to have a no contract option for monthly service. The wireless companies would no longer have to subsidize the cost of the phone and the consumer would become more aware of the actual cost of the phone. I’d have the prices listed for No Contract (full price), 1 year Contract (small discount) and 2 year Contract (largest discount) listed for each phone with the size of the font declining as the price declines, thus emphasizing the shorter (or no) contract period option rather than the lower price option.

    Warranty exchanges and insurance exchanges should both be handled at stores operated by the wireless company (see comment [2] below). Currently some companies do this and some do not. Also, Insurance should be mandatory and included in the standard charges.

    If the consumer has the option of opting out of a contract after three unsatisfactory phones then the phone company should also have that option. If they’ve exchanged phones for a customer three times and the customer is still asking for exchanges or credits or whatever, the company should be able to release them from their contract and not be required to resign them again until the end of their original contract period or one year. This will protect the company from excessive demands and also protect their other customers from price increases caused by excessive demands.

    [2] Company stores and non-company stores. The stores that are not owned by the wireless service company should be required to have their signs twice the size of any of the provider’s signs. It’s a little misleading when you see a sign for AT & T/Sprint/T-Mobile/Verizon Wireless Service et cetera that’s six feet across and then below it off in a corner is a sign that says Acme Wireless about six inches across.

    Also, if Illinois is going to pass this law they should have an independent party write a brochure on proper phone care and expectations and give the text to the wireless service providers and require that it be included with every phone sold or replaced.

    You know, things like don’t handle the phone with wet hands, don’t use it in the rain, don’t give it to an infant or toddler play with (it’ll go straight into their months), don’t throw it, don’t run over it, and don’t expect the battery of your new 3.5 oz phone-that has more computing power than the apple II Plus I used to have-to last as long as your old phone that had a 6 oz battery.

    And finally to improve reception the phone manufacturers need to increase the power of the phones back up to where they used to be. Oh, wait, they can’t because the government passed laws against that. Something about brain tumors…