Last spring when the first Senate hearings were held regarding AT&T’s pending purchase of T-Mobile USA, the folks at the Death Star repeatedly stated that they weren’t trying to eliminate competition because they don’t view the much smaller T-Mobile as competition. Unfortunately for T-Mobile, having to keep up that charade while AT&T fights the Justice Dept.’s attempt to block the deal could result in the loss of millions of customers.
Chad is a T-Mobile customer who used to be a Sidekick user. He also still is a Sidekick user, depending on which situation is more advantageous to T-Mobile. See, he signed a new contract and got a shiny new Sidekick last February. Earlier this year, that phone died and he bought an inexpensive Android phone to use while he waits out his contract. T-Mobile is ending Sidekick service soon, and has offered users still under contract the choice of leaving their contracts with no early termination fee, or switching to a different subsidized phone and sticking around. Chad is still under the original contract that he signed when he got his Sidekick last year, but at the same time is not under a Sidekick contract according to T-Mobile, so neither option is open to him.
Think the arbitration clause in a contract is unfair? Go ahead and contest it! Of course, you shouldn’t expect to win, since the Supreme Court has just ruled that it’s just fine for the arbitrator to decide whether the clause is fair.
An interesting question was brought up over at the Consumer Law & Policy blog yesterday. There is a legal gray area when it comes to debt collectors and voice mail or answering machines. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was enacted in 1977, when answering machines were not in common use. According to Jeff Sovern, debt collectors reach a legal dilemma when faced with such a device.