Mike shared with Consumerist a story that is almost baffling for many reasons. First, he writes that T-Mobile charged his wife a $200 ETF when there were only 90 days left on her contract. But then a delightful, wonderful AT&T customer service rep offered a $200 credit for AT&T service–effectively paying her T-Mobile ETF and earning themselves two delighted customers in the process.
AT&T seems determined to fix Mike’s problem. Only they can’t, apparently, because in the past 9 months he’s gone through 8 iPhones and 14 different SIM cards, and still can’t get a phone that does everything it’s supposed to do. (Like ring when someone calls.) Normally an 8-smartphone customer might sound like someone who’s being too hard to please, and maybe that’s Mike, but let’s face it: this is AT&T and it’s the iPhone, so most of the issues he lists below sounds completely plausible.
The Washington Post is reporting that the ridiculously huge ETFs for the Nexus One are magically shrinking as the FCC continues to investigate the fees. Google has shaved $200 of the “equipment recovery fee” it charges if a customer breaks their contract with T-Mobile after a 14-day trial period.
Verizon has dropped 10 phones from its list of models that will trigger the high $350 early termination fee. Cnet wonders whether this is Verizon’s way of trying to make its “advanced devices are expensive to service” argument more palatable to the FCC, as the remaining models are all smartphones.
Chris wrote in to us this afternoon, “I found this gem in my AT&T wireless inbox [today]. I received no notification it was there, just happened to notice that I had a new message from AT&T online.” It’s an announcement that AT&T Mobility has arranged a proposed settlement over a class-action lawsuit concerning early termination fees. If it’s approved, there’ll be a settlement fund created from which AT&T customers “may receive monetary or other benefits.”
Are you planning to sign up for Verizon FiOS service? If you wait until this Sunday to sign up, you’re going to be liable for a higher early termination fee. The fee for ending a two-year contract will more than double, from $179 to $360.
If you’re interested in the new Google/HTC Nexus One smartphone with a T-Mobile contract and can look past the problematic 3G access and buck-passing technical support, that’s great. Just, before you go through with the purchase, make sure you really, really like the phone and the service. Because, according to the Android fan site Phandroid, T-Mobile and Google have partnered up to charge you as much as $550 in “equipment recovery” and early termination fees. Update: T-Mobile has confirmed that they will be charging their own ETF on top of Google’s fee.
Starting tomorrow, Jan 1, 2010, you can cancel your Sprint cellphone contract without early termination fee. They are increasing monthly regulatory fees from $.20 to $.40. This constitutes what is known as a “materially adverse change of contract” and means you can break the contract without penalty. An official Sprint spokesperson officially confirmed this for us. A few things to know:
At least one official with the FCC is not impressed by Verizon’s latest explanations of its Early Termination Fees (ETFs) and Mobile Web billing practices. Commissioner Mignon Clyburn released a statement (pdf) last night where she called Verizon’s explanation “unsatisfying” and “troubling,” and she closed with the fighting words, “I look forward to exploring this issue in greater depth with my colleagues in the New Year.”
Last month, David Pogue at the New York Times published a tip from a self-described Verizon employee. The employee accused Verizon of deliberately rigging its system to trap customers whenever they accidentally press the “Get It Now” or “Mobile Web” buttons on their phones–even if they cancel the operation immediately, they’re charged a fee of $1.99 each time. Both Pogue and the FCC asked Verizon to explain why this happens. Verizon’s response: it doesn’t, and Pogue and the hundreds of people who wrote in to confirm this practice are all crazy.
Sprint has confirmed they will increase monthly regulatory fees from $.20 to $.40 on January 1st, creating an opportunity for customers to drop their contracts without incurring an early termination fee, which could save you up to $200.
Yesterday, four senators introduced legislation to make cell phone early termination fees be actually related to the cost of the phone.
Reader Y0himba was a loyal and happy customer of AT&T Wireless. But then the iPhone 3Gs became cheaper and proliferated, and he told both Consumerist and AT&T that his family’s phones became completely non-functional. But this is not a complaint–it is a tale of victory.
Are you looking to get a smartphone on the Verizon network anytime soon? Make sure that you like it before you sign a contract, since starting November 15th, Verizon will be imposing a higher early termination fee—up to $350—on contracts for “advanced” devices. That means smartphones.
If you signed up for Frontier Communications’ Price Protection Plan—a combo phone and broadband package—between January 2007 and September 2008, and you canceled the agreement and were charged an early termination fee (ETF), you may be getting some cash back.
Tmobile will be raising overage rates September 1st, and customers can use it to cancel without early termination fee.