Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Telecom offers consumer protection (yah, right)

You've got to hand it to the wireless phone service providers -- they just show no ability to show shame.

The providers have come up with a proposal to waive the outrageous fees they charge for customers who want an early out from their cell phone contracts -- the phone companies have agreed to waive the charges for those least likely to need the charges waived, according to the Associated Press.

Under a proposal to the Federal Communications Commission, the wireless industry would give consumers the opportunity to cancel service without any penalty for up to 30 days after they sign a cell phone contract or until 10 days after they receive their first bill.

Heavens! I bet that would protect a relative quarter-handful of customers who would like to switch carriers.

The phone companies have also, bless their hearts, proposed reducing the fees on a month-by-month basis, so customers who have a month or two left on their contracts wouldn't have to pay the full, punitive penalties.

"The plan would not abolish cancellation fees entirely," according to the Associated Press.

The phone companies are not offering up this proposal because they have decided that good rates and good service are the best ways to keep customers. No, they are offering it up because they are getting their keisters sued off in state courts over the ridiculous cancellation fees and are increasingly fearful that they will lose those cases. The phone companies, of course want a quid for their pro quo.

The agreement would let cell phone companies off the hook in state courts where they are being sued for billions of dollars by angry customers. If approved by the FCC, the proposal also would take away the authority of states to regulate the charges, known as early termination fees.

Customers don't get much protection, the phone companies get a new form of immunity for another kind of potentially illegal activity (don't forget all that illegal spying!), and states lose their ability to protect their residents.

Sounds like a sure thing to me.

1 comment:

John said...

P. 2, because
people are to dense to save themselves from themselves they must be saved by the Goverment. You sign a two year agreement and you get a free phone, should it be prorated? Sure. My ten year old kid understands the scam of not telling you how much it costs per month but that you'll get a free phone, ask people, and then decide if you can live with the contract. I bought a "Pay as you go phone" for $100 plus $100 for 1,000 minutes, if I had signed up for "A Plan" the phone would have been "Free" but for the $50 per month and $250 cancellation fee. It's really not that complicated, consumers have some obligation to be informed. If they're truely being scamed they certainly have a right to legal recourse. John