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Summary:

As part of a recently created pro-consumer task force at the Federal Communications Commission, the agency is sending out letters asking the top four wireless carriers and Google about their early termination fees.

As part of a recently created pro-consumer task force at the Federal Communications Commission, the agency is sending out letters to the top four wireless carriers and Google asking about their early termination fees (ETFs). The FCC already quizzed Verizon after Big Red raised the fees a consumer pays for canceling their contract early to $350 for smartphones — and the answers provided by Verizon were pretty much an exercise in obfuscation.

So now the agency has sent out letters to Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile and Google asking about ETF policies, including what each company’s ETF supports and even things like how much a consumer has to pay in restocking fees if they return a phone early (a personal pet peeve of mine since it’s hard to get a feel for a phone that’s attached to the wall via a security tether). Google and T-Mobile get special attention for their fees associated with the Nexus One, but I find it odd that questions weren’t sent to other retailers of mobile phones. Overall I hope to see a bit more clarity around consumer billing for mobile service.

Maybe the next inquiry could ask why carriers are forcing folks to pay for data plans they may not want with certain phones. An even more forward-looking inquiry might ask whether certain phones need voice plans at all.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Neubie

  1. [...] last year raised eyebrows when it increased its termination fee on smartphones to $350 and had to justify its moves to the FCC. No one was impressed with its defense, but Verizon is still charging the higher ETF (although it [...]

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  2. [...] in the footsteps of Verizon, who raised their ETF from $175 to $350 last winter. Verizon had to explain its raise to the Federal Trade Commission (though that didn’t lower the fee).That sets AT&T up for [...]

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