Friday, December 21, 2007

Early Termination Fees of Wireless Phone Contracts

Service industries such as mobile phone phone service and subscription television commonly have termination fees or early termination fees (ETFs) as they are more commonly known. However, the imposition of these fees have been criticized by consumer interest groups. These fees prevent users from migrating to superior services so they are labeled as being anti-competitive.

The process usually works this way. A person purchases cellular phone service from a particular wireless carrier. He or she might be required to sign a two-year contract in order to avail of the service. Now that contract might stipulate a $200 fee in the event that the customer breaks the contract or wants to opt out of it.

The clamor and the disputes about the unfairness of early termination fees in wireless phone contracts have lead to positive changes. Verizon wireless was the first carrier to give in when it announced that it will prorate it's early termination fee. AT&T followed Verizon's lead and other carriers namely, T-Mobile and Sprint, have also decided that they would begin prorating their ETF in the first half of next year.

Now, what does a prorated early termination fee entail? The customer will still have a to pay a fee for ending the contract abruptly. However, the amount will decrease as the decision to end the contract early gets closer to the contract end date. This means that a customer will no longer be forced to pay the original fee if he decides to end the contract.

Here's a list of the current termination fee for each major wireless carrier:

Alltel: $200 per phone line

AT&T: Prorated

Sprint
: $200 per phone line (to be prorated next year)

T-Mobile: $200 per phone line (to be prorated next year)

Verizon: Prorated

So far, Alltel has not made any announcements on making it's ETF prorated. However, it may lose customers if it remains as the only carrier to have a non prorated early termination fee next year. It would be logical to assume that the company will also follow the examples of other wireless networks to keep their consumers happy.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Discover Bank Decision and Wireless Phone Contract Disputes

About a couple of years ago, the California Supreme Court issued a decision that has a significant impact on wireless phone contracts. This decision was well anticipated because of the increasing number of wireless contract disputes.

The case was widely known as Discover Bank v. Superior Court resulted in a decision that class action and class arbitration waiver clauses in consumer contracts are not enforceable "at least under some circumstances.” With this decision a window of opportunity for the use and enforcement of class action and class arbitration waiver clauses in the employment context was opened.


Case Background

Let us explore the events behind this ground breaking decision.

The case was all about a credit card holder filing a class action claim against Discover Bank in California. The person accused the bank of imposing a late fee of $29 on payments that were received on the payment due date, but after the bank's undisclosed 1:00 p.m. “cut off” time therefore breaching the cardholder agreement.

In response to this accusation, the accused moved to compel arbitration on an individual basis and to dismiss the class action. The bank argued that class arbitration and class actions are expressly prohibited in the arbitration provision of the cardholder agreement. It also contained of law clause stating that Delaware law governed.

However, the plaintiff argued that the class action/arbitration waiver clause, as stated in the cardholder agreement, is unenforceable under California law because it was unconscionable.


The Impact

The decision strike down the class action/arbitration waiver clause in the Discover Bank case may have nationwide implications. The presiding also noted that California could now become a magnet for class actions because the majority decided to ignore the choice of law provision in the arbitration agreement.

The decision can also affect the contracts of wireless phone service providers because these contracts requires the customer to accept a form of class action waiver. Take a look at this condition in Sprint's Terms and Conditions:
We each agree not to pursue arbitration on a classwide basis. We each agree that any arbitration will be solely between you and us (not brought on behalf of or together with another individual's claim). If for any reason any court or arbitrator holds that this restriction is unconscionable or unenforceable, then our agreement to arbitrate doesn't apply and the dispute must be brought in court.
It's clear that the Discover Bank decision has affected the formation of this condition. The discover bank decision was also applied in a contract dispute between a customer and a wireless phone carrier. The California Federal Court denied the motion to compel arbitration under the agreement barring class action lawsuits made because the clause was held unconscionable. The motion was made by the defense in the Winig v. Cingular Wireless-Class Action Defense cases.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Changes to Sprint's Monthly Fees

Wireless company, Sprint will be changing some of the fees it charges its customers. Some sources say that it is the result of because of legal pressure for their alleged long-standing and industry-wide practice of misleading consumers into thinking certain fees are government mandated.

The company's phone and data customers will receive notices that will inform them that three fees from their bills will be removed. The Federal Programs Cost Recovery (FPCR) fee, the Federal E911 surcharge and the Wireless Local Number Portability (WLNP) will no longer be charged next year.

However, these charges may also be replaced. An Administrative Charge and a Regulatory Charge will be the replacement of the fees to be removed next year. This statement from Sprint's notice explains these changes:
"Sprint Nextel is charging the Administrative Charge to help defray various costs imposed on us by other telecommunications carriers, including, but not limited to, charges imposed by local telephone companies for delivery of calls from our customers to their landline customers and for certain network facilities and services we must purchase from them. The Regulatory Charge is being assessed to help defray the costs of various federal, state, and local regulatory programs. These charges are not taxes and are not amounts we are required to collect from you."
Many analyst comments that these changes are indeed a response to criticism that Sprint have been masking these fees as being required by the government. There may be truth to this analysis since Missouri's Attorney General sued the company for for misleading consumers into thinking these fees are government mandated about five years ago. As of now, the case has not been settled.

The important thing is that the consumer will have less fees to pay and will not be anymore lead to believe that they are paying for taxes or any government fees. Maybe these changes will also be rereflected in the company's contracts or temrs and conditions in the near future.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Wireless Phone Contracts and Privacy (Part Two)

This is the second part of my post about the privacy policy of major wireless phone service carriers.

In the first part I gave some information about the policies of Alltell, AT&T and Sprint Nextel on the issue of privacy. I also talked about the Customer Proprietary Network Information, or CPNI. This term refers to the information collected from you that is made available your carrier solely by virtue of their relationship with you. This information includes the quantity, technical configuration, type, destination, and amount of your use of the telecommunications services you purchased.

Now let's proceed with the remaining major carriers that were not included in the previous post. Let's take a look at what T-Mobile has to say about their customer's privacy:
Wireless systems use radios to transmit communications over a complex network. We do not guarantee that your communications using the Service or Products will be private or secure, and we are not liable to you for any lack of privacy or security you may experience. You are responsible for taking precautions and providing security measures best suited for your situation and intended use of the Service. We may (but are not required to) monitor, intercept, and disclose your transmissions, location or communications and may disclose your billing, account, calling records, or other information, in good faith reliance on legal process, if required by law or to protect our rights, business, network or customers. We may locate you through our network. Your caller identification (such as your name and Number) even if unlisted may be displayed to others (for example, on the equipment or bill of the person receiving your call or any Internet site you visit.) We may list your name, address, and Number in a published directory with your consent. The way third parties handle and use your personal information is governed by their policies and we are not responsible for their policies, or their compliance with them.
T-Mobile is giving the customer the responsibility of taking precautions when using their device which is perfectly fair in my view. Being careful when using a mobile phone is always a good idea. They may also reveal gather information about you if the law requires it. However, they also stress that they have no control over how third parties may handle your personal information. You can visit www.t-mobile.com/privacy to get in depth info about their privacy policies.

Now let's proceed to US Cellular's policies on Privacy. The Customer Service Agreement of US Cellular states that they may, " release information about you or your account when required by a subpoena or other lawful process. We will not provide you with notice of such requests." I think that their statement is very clear.. unless you have some trouble with the law then you can be sure that your personal information is safe.

US Cellular also reassures their customers that the company is dedicated to providing superior customer satisfaction and is committed to protecting customer privacy. They will take this responsibility seriously as a key component to earning and maintaining their customers’ trust. US Cellular's associates adhere to a Code of Business Conduct that supports our commitment to protecting customer privacy. This is pretty reassuring piece of info. You can find the company's policies and practices pertaining to the use and protection of customer information at their website's Privacy policy page.

Now let's wrap this up by checking out Verizon Wireless' privacy policy. The company's Customer Agreement states that,
We may use and share information about you and how you use the services: (a) so we can provide our goods or services; (b) so others can provide goods or services to us, or to you on our behalf; (c) so we or our affiliates can communicate with you about goods or services that any of us offer (although you can call us any time if you don't want us to do this); (d) to protect ourselves; or (e) as required by law, legal process, or exigent circumstances. In addition, we may include our own or third-party advertising in the services you've purchased from us, and we may share information about you with affiliates, vendors and third parties to, in addition to the above reasons, deliver relevant advertising to you while using the services. We may collect and transmit information regarding your use of the services through applications or other software present on your device. If you do not want us to collect, transmit or use such information about you for the above purposes, you should not use the services; by using the services, you expressly authorize us to use your information for these purposes.
Verizon may collect information about their users and reveal them to third parties for several reasons including requirement by law. They also stress that the customer may choose not to use the services if these conditions prove to be unfavorable or violate the user's privacy.

I hope that I provided some insights and information on the privacy policy of various wireless service providers. I think that it's always good to research and compare options to find the most appropriate choice. Hopefully, you can find a service that will give the best protection of your personal information or privacy.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wireless Phone Contracts and Privacy (Part One)

Privacy is one of the most important issues that should be considered when you are considering signing a mobile phone contract. You have to know that you're carrier will be able to protect your privacy and ensure that your calls are safe.

Let us look at some wireless phone contracts and examine some the conditions that deal with the issue of privacy. However, I thinks that it's important to examine a privacy term that is used in some of these contracts. I found that the Customer Proprietary Network Information, or CPNI is a term that is being used in these agreements.

CPNI or Customer Proprietary Network Information refers to the information collected from you that is made available your carrier solely by virtue of their relationship with you. This information includes the quantity, technical configuration, type, destination, and amount of your use of the telecommunications services you purchased.

Now that you have an idea about CPNI let's proceed to what the carriers say about it. Let us begin with Alltel's privacy policy. Their terms and conditions states that,
You authorize us to monitor and record communications to us regarding your account or the Services for purposes of quality assurance. We will not give you notice of any subpoenas or court orders related to your account or use of Services unless required by law. Information in our billing and customer care systems concerning your account and your use of Services belongs to us, and you have no expectation of privacy with respect to such information. You agree that we may release information we have about you when required to do so by law, to provide to third parties solely for the purpose of assisting us in providing any Service to you, or if we reasonably believe that an emergency involving immediate harm to a person or property requires disclosure. We may analyze your account and usage information and share this information with other Alltel entities to communicate with you regarding Equipment or Services that may become available to you. If you do not want us to provide your information to other Alltel entities for this purpose, please notify us.
If you are an Alltell subscriber, then you should remember that unless required by law, your carrier will not send you any information about any subpoenas or court orders related to your account or use of Services. Your carrier also gives you the option of resfusing them the right to analyze your account and usage information and share it with other Alltel entities to communicate with you regarding Equipment or Services.

Let us take a look at AT&T's take on consumer privacy. Now the thing with ATT is that they have merged with Cingular. They are currently updating their privacy policies as they continue to consolidate and re-brand the company from Cingular to AT&T. As of now, the Cingular privacy policy continues to apply to wireless services provided by AT&T. OK, now on to the policy. AT&T's privacy policy states that,
We will not sell or disclose your personal information to unaffiliated third parties without your consent except as otherwise provided in this Policy. We may use information about who you are, where and when you browse on the Web, where your wireless device is located, and how you use our network to provide you better service and enrich your user experience when you sign up or use any of our products or services.
This means that your consent is needed to allow AT&T to provide third parties with info about you. Now this is just a piece of their policy and I will not dwell on it too long because it is still under revision to cope with the Cingular merger. Tune in to AT&T if you want the latest on their privacy policy.

Let us move on to Sprint Nextel's stance on the issue of consumer privacy. According to their website, their company is
"committed to protecting the privacy of our customers. We only disclose customer information when necessary to comply with the law. We also have a variety of safeguards in place that protect against unauthorized access to our systems.
Your privacy is safe with this company except if the law requires information about you. You will also bebnfit from the safe guards that the company installed to preserve and protect your private and personal information. However, you have to remember thatCustomer Care contact information differs between customers served on Sprint systems and Nextel systems. You might want to check out Privacy at Sprint and Nextel to get more information about this topic.

I'm going to explore the privacy policies of other wireless service providers in my next post. I hoped I provided you with valuable info and links that will lead you to the data you seek.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Play Dead to Escape your Wireless Phone Contract

If you've signed up for a wireless phone contract and found it inappropriate for your life style, then you would probably want to get rid of it. However, you might be required to cough up a couple of hundred bucks to pay for a contract termination. A man found a simple solution to become free of his wireless contract contract. He simply staged his own death.

This solution seems logical enough. Wireless phone contracts will release a signer in the event of his or her own death. Apparently this person had experienced a lot of dropped and defective calls over the years. After paying large sums of money he wanted to close his contract without paying more money. He crafted a fake death certificate and asked a friend to fax it to his service provider's customer service. Unfortunately, the plan failed because the company caught on the forgery. The company decide to close his contract after they forced forced him to pay the termination fee.

Frustration and dissatisfaction can often be experience by those who sign long term contracts. they often feel that carriers do not provide top quality services and products. They are also unhappy with the fact that they are hooked to a service that no longer satisfies them and are required to pay a termination if they want to end their service. As a result, weird ideas may form in some subscribers minds.

In the past few years, unhappy contract subscribers have filed increasing about their lon term contracts. There have even been hearing s in congress to address these complains and any possible abuse form wireless service providers. A bill was also proposed to protect consumers from possible abuse from wireless contracts. In response to these hearings and complaints, the wireless companies have started to make changes.

The tight competition between them triggered the development of programs that would provide the best customer satisfaction. customer satisfaction is a great attraction for consumers who are bombarded by different wireless product offers.

Wireless companies have also made their contracts flexible and have allowed consumers to change their contract or pay a pro-rated termination fee instead of the fixed fee. A couple of top wireless service providers have also made announcement to open their networks to outside devices. Perhaps if these changes become more come, unsatisfied costumers will no longer come up with crazy ideas to escape their wireless contracts.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Wireless Phone Contract Disputes

There seems to have been an increase of contract disputes when it comes to mobile phone plans. Customers have began to question some of the conditions of their wireless contract and the contracts have responded to their demands.

One of the ways carriers have used to settle disputes is by making or changing contract conditions that deal with possible contract disputes. The contracts or terms and conditions of wireless service providers now have passages that are aimed towards dispute resolution. Take a look at this section from Verizon's Customer agreement,
WE EACH AGREE TO SETTLE DISPUTES (EXCEPT CERTAIN SMALL CLAIMS) ONLY BY ARBITRATION. THERE'S NO JUDGE OR JURY IN ARBITRATION, AND REVIEW IS LIMITED, BUT AN ARBITRATOR CAN AWARD THE SAME DAMAGES AND RELIEF, AND MUST HONOR THE SAME LIMITATIONS IN THIS AGREEMENT, AS A COURT WOULD. IF AN APPLICABLE STATUTE PROVIDES FOR AN AWARD OF ATTORNEY'S FEES, AN ARBITRATOR CAN AWARD THEM TOO.
This section is just the introduction. You can read the rest of the Customer Agreement if you want to learn more. Maybe the alarming number of court cases questioning a wireless carrier's right to block consumers from suing or filing class-action claims has triggered this changes in the contracts.

Earlier this year, an appeals courtin California reaffirmed a lower court's order that a wireless phone service carrier could not enforce a clause requiring arbitration of disputes with customers. AT&T's prohibition against subscribers banding together in class actions was also ruled unenforceable by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in California.Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote:
"In this case, we consider whether a class arbitration waiver in New Cingular Wireless Service Inc.'s standard contract for cellular phone services is unconscionable under California law, and whether the Federal Arbitration Act preempts a holding that the waiver is unenforceable. We hold that the waiver is unconscionable, and, thus, unenforceable, and that the invalidation of the contract provision is not preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act. Accordingly, we reverse the district court's order compelling arbitration."
The holes in the contract language, which generally seeks to steer every dispute away from court and into arbitration have exposed by these lawsuits. A landmark 2005 ruling in a California court, known as the Discover Bank decision has also proven useful in these lawsuits. The decision states that which allows class actions to proceed under certain conditions even when such suits are prohibited by a contract.

These disputes also brought about some positive changes in the contracts and the carriers attitude towards customer satisfaction. Some carriers have altered their contract to provide more freedom for their customers and some have announced programs that will keep their customers happy and satisfied with their services. Hopefully, these conflict will result in more positive changes and provide balance in the relationship between wireless service providers and customers.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Wireless Contract Tips and More

The wireless phone industry is probably the fastest growing sector in today's business world. In the span of a few years, it has become a normal part of our daily lives. Almost everyone owns a cell phone and use them as the primary tool for communicating with people and friends that are out of reach.

The growth of this industry has been enormous. There are now countless choices when it comes to cellphone models, plans, contracts and service providers. The normal wireless phone customer is constantly being bombarded by new phones, plans, features and other information.
Let me give you some tips on how to choose the contract features and other aspects of the modern wireless phone.

Modern cellphones have a lot more features than the early models so choosing the ones that fit your lifestyle can be confusing. Nowadays the features range from simple and functional to complicated ones. The important thing that you have to remember when dealing with features is that buying anything more than you will use is a mistake.

It would be practical and smart to stick with the basic features if you want to use your phone for making calls most of the time. On the other hand, a high end or latest model wireless phone would be best if you want to use your mobile for e-mail or multi-tasking. You can also choose a phone with a camera and plenty of games if you want to get some entertainment out of your wireless phone.

Let's move on to wireless plans and contracts that are offered in wide variety by wireless service providers. You have to think carefully about how much you'll actually be using your phone before you go about choosing a plan. Your cellular phone contract should be based on your projected usage time. The money you will dish out will depend on how much time you use up so choosing a plan or contract that provides the most suitable number of minutes is crucial. You're usually better off overestimating the number of plan minutes you'll need rather than paying extra, expensive airtime charges.

It is also important to think about the time that you'll be making most of your calls. Nowadays, carriers would only charge for calls made during peak periods. The peak periods are usually at Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. Calls made during the weekends, nights, and holidays, are usually free and are considered unlimited anytime minutes. There are also plans or contracts that do not charge calls made to other cell phones on a carrier's network.

Remember to to find out if checking your voicemail, incoming and outgoing calls count toward unlimited anytime minutes. You need to weight everything before you make a decision. Compare plans to find out which one will work best with your budget and lifestyle.

You have to consider several things before you sign on the dotted line of a cellular phone contract. For example, you should verify the unlimited anytime minutes you have and what kind of calls count toward them. You also have to get information about roaming, overtime, and extra charges.

A cellular phone contract nationwide plan with free long distance will be very useful if you spend most of your time traveling or have friends and relatives in far off places. This means that you also need to know where your local calling area begins and ends.

Wireless service contracts usually last for a year or two so you need to have a clear grasp of and this commitment and how much it will cost you to break it. In recent years, service providers have softened their stance on ending contracts so you should do research about your options.

In my opinion, the key is to make sure you know how everything works before you sign any cellular phone contract. This way there will be no unpleasant surprises and your relationship with your wireless service provider will be smooth and full of satisfaction.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Do You Want to Swap Your Phone?

Do you have problems with your cell phone plan? That's certainly understandable since many people feel dissatisfied or too restricted with their wireless phone contract. You can choose to drop your contract by paying a termination that may be prorated depending on the carrier or provider. However, if you don't think that it's practical to pay a couple hundred bucks to be released from your cellphone contract then you should think about swapping your contract.

There are now plenty of online websites that offer this kind of service.The idea behind cellphone contract swapping is simple. Those who want to get rid of their contracts and plans would post them on a website for a small fee. Those who are interested in these plans can then browse over posted offers in the site after a free registration.

Of course, you still have to make sure that the swap is allowed by your carrier before you commit to swap your plan. If you are lucky your carrier may be able to switch you to a cheaper one without a charge. Some carriers are also not opposed to the whole cell phone contract swapping idea. For example, one carrier only require both parties to fill out the paperwork, and an account is in good standing to allow the swap. Some carriers may require the person picking up the account may still have to complete a credit report before the transfer can be completed.

It's not difficult to find people who may be interested to take your plan or swap them with you. Since an take over a contract with maybe five months or four months left on a contract instead of a year or two year plan, people like these deals. It would allow them to get a free phone or may not be force to pay for an activation fee.

Like most quick solutions, cellphone contract swapping can also present some problems for both parties. There are cell phone contracts that prohibits the signer from participating in the swapping process. And even if you are permitted to swap your plan, your carrier may still come after you if the new customer falls behind in his or her payments.

It would be best then to exercise caution and to do plenty of research when engaging in Cellphone contract swapping deals. You have to check all the aspects of the deal before you finalize it. If you go through the process quickly with going through the proper channels or with securing all the bases, then the deal might backfire on you.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Cell Phone Consumer Empowerment Act of 2007

Last September, Senators Amy Klobuchar and Jay Rockefeller unveiled a legislation that was driven towards empowering the 200 million cell phone customers nationwide. The bill would allow consumers to be able to make informed choices about a wireless service that best fits their needs and their budget.

The bill named the Cell Phone Consumer Empowerment Act of 2007" will put pressure ton wireless service providers. It will encourage them to share simple, clear information on their services and charges with customers before they enter into long-term contracts. Customers will have a thirty-day window in which to exit a contract without early termination fees. The service providers will also grant customers greater flexibility to exit contracts with services that don’t meet their needs if this bill will be implemented.

Sen. Klobuchar explains her views by saying that “Early termination fees are a family budget-buster; families should be able to terminate service without outrageous fees; know if their cell phone will work on their drives and in their home and office; and understand what to expect in their monthly bills once you pile on charges and fees. It’s a simple matter of fairness.

These are some of the key points of the Cell Phone Consumer Empowerment Act of 2007 :

EARLY TERMINATION FEES (ETF)
The FCC shall set forth regulations to pro-rate ETFs. At a minimum, the ETF for a 2-year contract shall be reduced by ½ after 1 year.
DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS FOR PLANS AND CONTRACTS
Publication of the terms of a wireless plan shall include information on: contract terms; charges; minutes; information on taxes and surcharges; wireless E-911 service; and other information that the FCC considers appropriate.

This information shall be given to a consumer prior to entering into any contract.

CONTRACT EXTENSION, MODIFICATION, OR RESCISSION
Extension: An extension of a contract shall not be valid unless the wireless provider provides point-of-sale notice of the extension to the customer and allows the customer to cancel the extension within 30 days after such notice.

Modification: Wireless carriers must provide subscribers with written notices of changes in rates and terms at least 30 days before such changes are to take effect.

Rescission: A contract for wireless service may be canceled upon the request of a subscriber for any reason up to 30 days after entering into the contract.
ENFORCEMENT

The FCC shall enforce the legislation’s provisions and the attorney general of a State, or the public utility commission of a State may bring a civil action in federal district court or establish or use existing administrative procedures to enforce the Act’s provisions.
-The Act preempts state law, except that the Act does not preempt state laws that provide additional protections to wireless subscribers.


This billed coupled with the Congressional hearings on the issue of wireless contracts have pushed wireless service providers to have a softer stance on their contracts. Some of them have preempted the bill by pro-rating their early termination fees and have allowed their consumers to alter their contracts.

It also seems that this bill has encouraged wireless service providers to pay attention to customer satisfaction. They have began to make plans to implement consumer friendly programs in an effort to provide better service and to attract more customers.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Some Tips on Ending Your Wireless Contract

Do you want to get out of the clutches of your current two-year contract? Well, you can pay a termination fee to be free of it. But what if you don't have money to pay an early termination fee? I did some research online and found that there are ways that can help you squirm your way out of a wireless carrier contract without paying the termination fee.

Often the best way to get rid of a contract is too opt out of it as soon as possible. You can cancel a wireless contract with some carriers if you just signed up for service. You simply have to call customer service and inform them that you would like to cancel your plan. However, if you have used the service , then you may have to pay a prorated amount. Here is a piece from Verizon Wireless' customer agreement,
You can cancel (if you're a new customer and not assuming another customer's service) WITHIN 30 DAYS of accepting. You'll still be responsible through that date for the new service and any charges associated with it.
One of the thing's you can also do is to find someone who may be interested in purchasing your unwanted contract. You can try looking for a buyer online. Their are websites that specialize in transferring the financial responsibilities of cell contracts from one person to another. It may be possible to transfer the plan over to a recipient without paying the early termination fee as long as the recipient meets the minimum qualifications for the contract.

You could also try to register a change of address with your carrier or move to a different location to worm your way out of your contract. If you call and complain about not getting reception after you transfer to an area your cell carrier doesn't have service then perhaps you will be free from your contract. Your contract maybe null and void if your service provider can’t offer access in a given area. Look at this statement from Alltel's Terms and conditions,
A change in your service address or the location to which any Service is provided to you may constitute, at our sole discretion, termination of the Services or an increase in the prices you must pay for the Services.
It would also be a good idea to turn into news about your carrier's Terms of Service. If your Service Provider may make major changes to you plan, they may automatically void the contract and give you as much as 30 days to cancel it. As stated by Sprint Nextel's Terms and Conditions,
Except as provided below, if a change we make to the Agreement is material and has a material adverse effect on you, you may terminate each line of Service materially affected without incurring an Early Termination Fee only if you: (a) call us within 30 days after the effective date of the change; and (b) specifically advise us that you wish to cancel Services because of a material change to the Agreement that we have made. If you do not cancel Service within 30 days of the change, an Early Termination Fee will apply if you terminate Services before the end of any applicable Term Commitment.
I'm sure there are more ways of canceling a restrictive wireless phone contract and that you can also find them. You can find a lot of good ideas online if you you do your research or asked the people you know. Another good way would be to read the contract you signed more carefully. you may find a section that would help you become free of the contract and become available to sign another that would suit you better.

Friday, November 23, 2007

More-Flexible Contract Terms for T-Mobile Customers

This month T-Mobile USA, Inc. announced that customers entering into contracts for their service will benefit from a new and more flexible policy due to upcoming changes. For example, there will be a decline of early termination fees (ETFs) during the course of a customer’s contract with T-Mobile according to the new guidelines.

The world class company T-Mobile USA, Inc., is a member of the T-Mobile International group that is based in Bellevue, Washington. This company specializes in mobile communications, and is the mobile telecommunications subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom AG. This wireless company's innovative wireless products and services help empower people to connect effortlessly to their family and friends.

T-Mobile is ranked highest by multiple independent research studies in terms wireless call quality and wireless customer care. This year, the company also earned the highest ranking from the J.D. Power and Associates 2007 Wireless Customer Care Performance Study – Volume 2. This award marked the sixth consecutive period that T-Mobile has held the top spot in customer care.

Sue Nokes, senior vice president, Sales and Customer Service, T-Mobile USA explains that,

“T-Mobile is widely recognized as the undisputed service leader in wireless. We want to do everything possible to create a great experience so customers want to stay with us for years. This announcement builds on our heritage of listening closely to our customers and always striving to meet their needs.”

During the first half of 2008, the new ETF policy, and the specific details of the policy, are expected to be finalized and introduced. New customers as well as current customers renewing contracts with T-Mobile will all benefit when the new terms become effective.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Better Customer Experience form Sprint Nextel

There is now no need for Sprint customers to extend their contracts when changing their rate plans. With its new programs driven towards better customer experience, Sprint became the first wireless carrier to give customers additional contract flexibility.

Sprint Nextel is a company that offers a comprehensive range of wireless and wireline communications services. These services will bring the freedom of mobility to consumers, businesses and government users. The company prides itself in developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, industry-leading mobile data services; instant national and international walkie-talkie capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. Its two robust wireless networks serving about 54 million customers at the end of the third quarter 2007.

The company has decided to extend its Right Plan Promise policy to six months allowing customers to benefit from more contract flexibility. Customers are now able to change their rate plans without having to renew their contracts. In the next year, a new prorated early termination fee (ETF) policy will be implemented.

Of course, there are other programs that will improve customer experience such as the:

Welcome Call

A customer care representative will welcome a customer to Sprint after a he or she activates service. The representative will then thank the customer for his or her business. Any questions from the customer will be entertained by the representative to ensure the customer feels fully informed about the product and/or plan. Customers are sure to become fully educated about the Sprint products and services they purchased with this great process.

Premier Loyalty Rewards

Sprint customers will have even more enhanced experience next year because the company is planning to add new and innovative reward programs for long-time customers.

Overage Courtesy Call

In this program new customers' wireless usage during the first six months of service will be monitored. The purpose of this will be to ensure that new customers are on the right plan. They will be then notified during the first time they have incurred significant excess voice, text or data overage charges. Then a new plan will be offered to customer to help them avoid future overage charges and better meet their wireless needs.

Are you interested with Sprint's new programs? If you are, then you can check them out at their
official website.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

If Your cellphone is Lost or Stolen....

Have your ever lost your cell phone? Maybe someone stole it from you or you've left it behind at school. If you this situation has happened to you then you should know the proper steps that should be done. You wireless carrier might have a certain policy that will be applied in this situation. Let's have a look at these policies.

AT&T 's service agreement states that,
If your wireless phone or other device ("Equipment") is lost or stolen, you will be responsible for all charges incurred on your phone number until you report the theft or loss and provide a police report number to us. After you report the theft or loss to us, you remain responsible for complying with your other obligations under this Agreement including, but not limited to, payment of any monthly service fees.
This means that it is important that you should immediately inform AT&T if your phone was stolen or if you have lost it. You don't want to be charged with all the calls on your stolen or lost phone on top of the misery of having lost it.


If you signed a deal with Verizon Wireless then you should remember that,
If your wireless phone is lost or stolen, it is very important that you notify us immediately for your own protection, so that we can suspend your service to prevent further usage. If your bill shows charges to your phone after the loss but before you reported it, and you want a credit for those charges, we will investigate your account activity. You do not have to pay the charges you dispute while they are being investigated to determine whether the charges resulted from usage by someone not authorized to use the phone. Further, if we haven't given you a courtesy suspension of recurring monthly fees within the prior year, we'll give you one for 30 days, or until you replace or recover your wireless phone, whichever comes first. You may need to provide further information regarding the theft or loss if we ask for it.
Verizon's stance on the loss or theft of a cellphone is softer than that of AT&T but it still stresses the importance of reporting the loss or theft of the wireless phone immediately. They are also offering a suspension of recurring monthly fees until your replace or recovered your phone provided they did not give you a suspension a year earlier.
Sprint/Nextel has this to say about the loss or theft of a wireless phone:

Call us immediately if your Device is lost or stolen because you may be responsible for usage charges before you notify us of the alleged loss or theft. You agree to cooperate if we choose to investigate the matter (provide facts, sworn statements, etc.). We may not waive any Early Termination Fees if you choose to terminate Services as a result of loss or theft of your Device.
Their policy is basically the same with other carriers. Informing them of the loss or theft is extremely important. However, if you choose to terminate Services after losing your phone they may not waive any early termination fee.


T-Mobile's terms and conditions states that,

If your Phone is lost or stolen ("Lost Phone") you will not be liable for unauthorized airtime charges incurred on the Lost Phone if you: (a) notify us immediately; (b) ask us to deactivate the Lost Phone; and (c) provide within 14 days any documentation we request, including a police report. You must fulfill the remainder of your Term by activating a replacement Phone (which may be full price) or the cancellation fee will apply.
Again this policy emphasizes the importance of letting the carrier know about the loss or theft of the cellphone. T-mobile also stresses that a customer must activate a replacement phone if he or she loses the original device.

It's clear that informing your wireless carrier is the first step you should make when you lose your wireless phone. It also helps if you have proof of the lost of your phone because investigations will follow. However, the best way to avoid this situation is to take better care of your wireless phone so that you won't misplace it or have it stolen by a dishonest person.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Wireless Contract Changes and Congress

U.S. Congressional hearings were recently held to decide if it was best to legislate more consumer-friendly practice among wireless cell phone carriers. Perhaps rumors about this hearings prompted wireless companies, Verizon and AT&T to loosen their restrictions on wireless contract changes.

This is Verizon Wireless' policy on their right to change their contract:
UNLESS OTHERWISE PROHIBITED BY LAW, WE CAN ALSO CHANGE PRICES AND ANY OTHER CONDITIONS IN THIS AGREEMENT AT ANY TIME BY SENDING YOU WRITTEN NOTICE PRIOR TO THE BILLING PERIOD IN WHICH THE CHANGES WOULD GO INTO EFFECT. IF YOU CHOOSE TO USE YOUR SERVICE AFTER THAT POINT, YOU'RE ACCEPTING THE CHANGES. IF THE CHANGES HAVE A MATERIAL ADVERSE EFFECT ON YOU, HOWEVER, YOU CAN END THE AFFECTED SERVICE, WITHOUT ANY EARLY TERMINATION FEE, JUST BY CALLING US WITHIN 60 DAYS AFTER WE SEND NOTICE OF THE CHANGE.

And this is AT&T's policy on terms and condition changes:

These terms and conditions may be changed from time-to-time. AT&T will post the most current version of these terms and conditions at att.com/MediaTerms or other appropriate location. Please check these regularly to inform yourself about changes to the terms and conditions.

Sen. Amy Klobluchar introduced a bill that would require wireless providers to prorate fees charged to customers who cancel cell phone contracts. A two-year contract usually requires a $200 fee if a customer wants to cancel the wireless service before the contract expires. Another facet of the Sen. Klobuchar's bill demands that customers will not be forced to sign up for a contract extension if they want to make changes to their calling plans.

Verizon and AT&T have already removed the contract-extension stipulation and their customers can now change their plans without signing a new contract. Here is a statement from Verizon Wireless contract on contract-extension:
Except as explicitly permitted by this agreement, you're agreeing to maintain service with us for your minimum term. (Periods of suspension of service don't count towards fulfillment of your minimum term.) After that, you'll become a month-to-month customer under this agreement. AN EARLY TERMINATION FEE WILL APPLY IF YOU CHOOSE TO END YOUR SERVICE BEFORE BECOMING A MONTH-TO-MONTH CUSTOMER, OR IF WE TERMINATE IT EARLY FOR GOOD CAUSE. FOR SERVICE ACTIVATED PRIOR TO 11/16/06, THE EARLY TERMINATION FEE IS $175 PER WIRELESS PHONE NUMBER. FOR SERVICE ACTIVATED ON OR AFTER 11/16/06, OR FOR LINES OF SERVICE WITH MINIMUM TERMS EXTENDED ON OR AFTER 11/16/06, THE EARLY TERMINATION FEE IS $175, WHICH WILL BE REDUCED BY $5 FOR EACH FULL MONTH TOWARD YOUR MINIMUM TERM THAT YOU COMPLETE. (The Early Termination Fee applies only to the extent permitted by law. If you buy your wireless phone from an authorized agent or third-party vendor, you should check to see if they charge a separate termination fee.) If you terminate your service as of the end of your minimum term, you won't be responsible for any remaining part of your monthly billing cycle. Otherwise, all terminations by you during a monthly billing cycle become effective on the last day of that billing cycle. You'll remain responsible for all fees and charges incurred until then and won't be entitled to any partial month credits or refunds. You may be able to take, or "port," your current wireless phone number to another service provider. If you request your new service provider to port a number from us, and we receive your request from that new service provider, we'll treat it as notice from you to terminate our service for that number upon successful completion of porting. After the porting is completed, you won't be able to use our service for that number. You'll remain responsible for any Early Termination Fee, and for all fees and charges through the end of that billing cycle, just like any other termination. If you're porting a phone number to us from another company, we may not be able to provide you some services, such as 911 location services, immediately.

Some experts see the loosening up of wireless contracts as peace offerings so Congress will not see a need for regulating the business of wireless cell phone companies. Well, only time will tell if lawmakers will agree with that notion. Many consumers have filed more complaints with Better Business Bureau about the wireless industry so maybe the recent changes are a move in the right direction. As a wireless customer, I have to agree with that.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Wireless Carrier Contract Policy Change

Wireless carrier's contracts or terms and conditions do not change very often. However, due to unseen circumstances or changes in the wireless industry, the top wireless carriers have decided to make adjustments on their contracts.

A good example would be the Verizon Wireless policy change that was made on the month of March of last year. The wireless giant became the first cellular carrier to pro rate its termination fees over the life of the contract in the history of the wireless industry.

And a month ago, another wireless industry giant followed Verizon Wireless policy change. AT&T another leading wireless carrier also announced that it will no longer charge customers a flat termination fee if they cancel their service before their contract is up. This new contract policy will be implemented into in early 2008.

AT&T will pro rate the fee depending on how many months the customer has left on their contract. The company has also made the decision not to require customers to renew contracts when making changes to their wireless service plans.

The wireless sales and marketing division of AT&T explained that the policy change was done to accommodate the demand of consumers. They have acknowledge that wireless consumers dislike one-size-fits-all approaches and thus they have made changes to remedy the problem.

Wireless customers have long been complaining about contract termination fees and upgrade fees. They have to pay anywhere from $175 to $250 to cancel a contract before its expiration date which is obviously a burden to those who have tight budgets.

They view as measures designed to retain customers and prevent them from seeking better deals elsewhere. Industry representatives expressed that fees are necessary to subsidize the costs of handsets.

Hopefully, the contract policy change made by AT&T will encourage similar adjustments from other wireless carriers. Perhaps they will also consider the difficulties posed by ontract termination fees and upgrade fees to their loyal customers.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Some Consumer Contract Complains

I have gather some consumer contract complaints from the Internet. These are complaints on the contracts of various wireless carriers, I will also publish links to these carrier's customer service so that you can contact them if you have similar complaints. I will not mention the carriers names to show that I am not favoring any particular carrier.


Darelen of Brooks Lane, NC complained that her wireless carrier is,
"charging me for service I have cancelled six months ago. I am no longer under contract but they refuse to cancel my cell phone account. I joined under a family plan with my brother and they say he needs to sign me off the account (the bill comes under my name to my address) but refuse to send him the paperwork. He has directly requested this from them twice to my knowledge."

Alina of Secaucus NJ complained that her carrier,

"sent a bill for $746.52 (!) saying that the contract had expired a month ago, and all calls were billed at 60 c/min afterward. They have not notified me in advance that they were going to do that. It is responsibility of (Wireless Carrier) to communicate any changes to the customer clearly and unambiguously. I have never been contacted directly and would have never agreed to any change in rates if I had, much less for a 15-fold hike.

I have tried to resolve it several times with(Wireless Carrier) customer service. I was offered to sign up for another year of service with them and then they promised to clear this charge! I'm seeking to have all calls rebilled at the agreed rate, which should bring the bill down to $49.99 The said they do it to everybody as a matter of business practice. I believe that (Wireless Carrier) wireless tries to coerce customers to use their service and I wish more people knew about it."

Ken Chan complained that,

"On the last day of my contract (March 31), I called to terminate the service. I was told that it can be terminated it as it is the end of the contract. Today I received another bill charging me for the April usage. I called their representative, I was told that I can only terminate at the end of the billing cycle (not the end of the contract), which is from March 28 to April 27. First of all, I don't quite understand that why the billing cycle started two days before the starting date of the contract. If one has to terminate at the end of this billing cycle, then effectively the contract was extended to 1 year and 1 month (that was not the original agreement, which is one year).

I had been looking forward to the termination of the contract, as the cell phone did not work at my office in NYC at all (no coverage). It's essentially a piece of junk. For the past year I have used perhaps less than a hour in total. I have complained about the reception problem many times. What makes it even more absurd is that I can not even terminate after the end of the contract. Is the usual billing cycle set up as a trap? The representative I called refuse to cancel the charge of the additional month's service. This is totally unacceptable and completely unexpected."


From an anonymous consumer,
"My brother passed away suddenly in December. I have been dealing with his estate since. Most creditors have been easy to deal with and have even offered their condolences. (Wireless Carrier) is an exception.

I contacted (Wireless Carrier) to cancel his cell phone service. I spent over forty minutes on the phone. First I went through fifteen minutes of being on hold. Then I spoke with Alex. He was a bit gruff with me and didn't understand why I did not have the account phone number memorized. I told him I called him and he should have the number. I also explained I had not received a bill from (Wireless Carrier) since his passing in mid-December. I had to look his number up on my own cell phone.

Eventually Alex passed me off to another department, staffed by the lovely Marie. Marie would not cancel the account either and when I started explaining how an $80 bill was not worth (Wireless Carrier) time going after my brother's estate in probate court she claimed she could not hear me, repeatedly. I told her it must the the (Wireless Carrier) network quality service. I live in a major city and had full bars.

Marie's claims of hearing impediment led me to ask for her manager. I spoke with Kevin. He eventually asked to call me back on a land line. I told him to call me back on my brother's phone. In the end, all he would do was put the account on "vacation", still charging $5.95 per month. I still do not understand why he would not cancel it since I had all the passwords they wanted. (Wireless Carrier) will not get a payment from the estate unless they pursue it in probate. They will spend more money on the paperwork."



Now that you have read the contract complaints here are the customer service information of major wireless carrier's:

  • Click here for Sprint customer service.
  • Click here for AT&T customer service.
  • Click here for T-Mobile customer service.
  • Click here for Verizon Wireless customer service.
  • Click here for Cricket customer service.
  • Click here for Alltell customer service.
I hope that this post will be able to help solve your wireless contract complaints and problems.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Wireless Binding Contract Length and Freebies

Wireless carriers often offer long term contracts to their customers. They are commonly 1 or two years long. Some carriers do not require their customers contracts as needed to get their services. They may offer rebates in the place of contracts to persuade potential customers. The range of rebates for a two year agreement is usually between $30 to $330. If you get a one year contract then you may be able to get greater rebates.

If you sign a contract with some carriers, then you may be able to get some freebies. For instance, AT&T subscribers have the option of a dozen free phones to choose from. Just another promotion technique to draw customers.

If you want to go with Verizon Wireless, then you have to accept the mandatory one year minimum contract. You can also benefit from being able to choose between four free phones and substantial rebate discounts, if you sign a two year contract with Verizon.

You can also sign with Sprint for a two year contract and purchase online and gaining the option of only one free phone. Sprint has very expensive phones so it may not be good for them to offer more.

Wireless carrier, T-Mobile requires customers to sign a two year contract if they want to avail of their “My Faves” packages. Unfortunately, customers cannot benefit from the insignificant differences in the cell phone rebates between one or two year contracts.

You should not go with ALLTEL if you have a thing for free phones. This carrier does not offer any free phones as contract bait. But then again, free phones are technically not really free. Fortunately, this carrier offer three phones with their two year contract that will cost customers only a few bucks due to the discounts and rebates.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Unlimited Nights Time Frame of Top Wireless Carriers

The top wireless carriers offer unlimited night minutes to attract and gain more customers. This offer is indeed tempting because a caller can make unlimited calls during this period. However, there is still a need to exercise care when using this feature because every carrier has a different time frame for nights that is stated in their contract.

The last thing you want is to be charged for a call that you thought to be within the nights period. You should read the time frame for nights on the contract or terms and conditions of your carrier before you start making calls. Let me give some information on the nights time frame of various wireless carriers as stated on their contract.


You can avail of AT&'s unlimited nights minutes at 9 p.m. You can choose the option of changing that to 7p.m. by spending $9 more per month.


If you bought the "Power Pack" wireless plan of Sprint, then you should know that you can avail of unlimited nights starting at 7 p.m. You can make "night" an hour earlier or 6 p.m. by paying an extra $5 every month.


T-Mobile's unlimited nights begin at 9 p.m. and cannot be lowered by paying an extra fee.



Alltel’s “National Freedom” plan offers nights beginning at 9p.m., but its “Smart Choice Packs” have nights beginning at 7p.m.


Your unlimited nighttime minutes will commence at 9p.m. if you have purchased 450 minutes from US Cellular. You can avail of unlimited nights and weekends two hours earlier if you buy 900 minutes.



Verizon Wireless offer unlimited night minutes from 9 p.m. and no offers are made to extend this period.


Just by looking at these offers, it's clear that Sprint has the best nights policy because a subscriber can enjoy limited nights as early as 7 p.m with out paying any extra fee. This means that if you do most of your calls from 7 p.m. then Sprint may be the the best choice for you.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

AT and T's Wireless Data Service Terms and Conditons

This is AT&T's contract or terms and condition for wireless data service. There have been some complains about it which I will talk about later.



I. GENERAL TERMS AND CONDITIONS APPLICABLE TO AT&T'S WIRELESS DATA SERVICES, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO, FEATURES THAT MAY BE USED WITH WIRELESS DATA SERVICES AND WIRELESS CONTENT.


AT&T provides wireless data services, including but not limited to, features that may be used with wireless data services and wireless content ('Services'). These Services may be subject to credit approval and may only be available with certain rate plans. An activation fee of up to $36 may apply to each new line. Compatible data-enabled wireless device required.


Usage/Billing:
Usage and monthly fees will be charged as specified in your plan. DATA TRANSPORT IS BILLED IN FULL-KILOBYTE INCREMENTS, AND ACTUAL TRANSPORT IS ROUNDED UP TO THE NEXT FULL-KILOBYTE INCREMENT AT THE END OF EACH DATA SESSION FOR BILLING PURPOSES. AT&T CHARGES A FULL KILOBYTE OF DATA TRANSPORT FOR EVERY FRACTION OF THE LAST KILOBYTE OF DATA TRANSPORT USED ON EACH DATA SESSION. NETWORK OVERHEAD, SOFTWARE UPDATE REQUESTS, AND RESEND REQUESTS CAUSED BY NETWORK ERRORS CAN INCREASE MEASURED KILOBYTES. AIRTIME AND OTHER MEASURED USAGE ARE BILLED IN FULL-MINUTE INCREMENTS AND ROUNDED UP TO THE NEXT FULL-MINUTE INCREMENT AT THE END OF EACH CALL FOR BILLING PURPOSES. Data sent and received includes, but is not limited to downloads, email, overhead and software update checks. Unless designated for International or Canada use, prices and unlimited use apply to EDGE/GPRS and BroadbandConnect access and use on AT&T's wireless network and its partner wireless networks within the United States and its territories (Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands), excluding areas within the Gulf of Mexico. Charges will be based on the location of the site receiving and transmitting service and not the location of the subscriber. BroadBandConnect access requires a compatible, eligible 3G device. There are 1024 kilobytes in a megabyte. Overage is billed by the kilobyte. Service charges paid in advance for annual Services are nonrefundable. Some Services may require an additional monthly subscription fee and/or be subject to additional charges and restrictions. See applicable Service materials for complete pricing and terms. Prices do not include taxes, directory assistance, roaming, universal services fees or other exactions and are subject to change. You may obtain usage information by calling customer service or using one of our automated systems.


Voice:
If you have a voice-capable device, unless you request voice blocking, select a data plan that restricts voice access or select a qualified voice plan, the default rate for voice calls on the AT&T's wireless network are 40¢ per minute and 69¢ per minute for domestic roaming voice calls off AT&T's wireless network (rates are subject to change without notice). Additional taxes and surcharges may apply. See AT&T Nation® map at store or att.com/wireless for default wireless voice coverage area.If you request voice blocking or your selected data plan restricts voice access, all voice calling capabilities (except for outgoing calls from the device to 911 or 611) will be blocked, including without limitation, calls from 911 or 611 to the device. If you have a wireless voice plan, wireless voice calls are billed as provided in your wireless voice rate plan.


Roaming:

Roaming charges for wireless data or voice service may be charged with some plans when outside AT&T's wireless network. Display on your device will not indicate whether you will incur roaming charges. Services originated or received while outside your plan's included coverage area are subject to roaming charges. Use of Services when roaming is dependent upon roaming carrier's support of applicable network technology and functionality. Check with roaming carriers individually for support and coverage details. Billing for domestic and international roaming usage may be delayed up to three billing cycles due to reporting between carriers.


International Roaming:
See att.com/wirelessinternational or dial 1-866-246-4852 for more information and for a list of currently available countries and carriers. Compatible international-capable device required. Certain countries and/or carriers within a roaming zone may be unavailable with certain plans or Services while roaming. Availability, quality of coverage and Services while roaming are not guaranteed. Rates apply to AT&T's wireless customers only. Certain tenure, billing and credit restrictions and additional charges may apply.


Cancellations/Early Termination Fee:
An Early Termination Fee of $175 may be assessed against you in the event that you terminate your Wireless Service Agreement and/or selected plan before the expiration of its term. You may cancel your service, for any reason and without incurring the Early Termination Fee, within thirty (30) days of signing your Wireless Service Agreement, PROVIDED, however, that if you cancel service you will remain responsible for any service fees and charges incurred. If you cancel within three (3) days of signing your Wireless Service Agreement, you will be entitled to a refund of your activation fee, if any. If you exercise this option, you may be required to return devices and associated accessories purchased in connection with your Wireless Service Agreement.


Service Availability and Access/Coverage:
AT&T does not guarantee availability of wireless network. Services may be subject to certain equipment and compatibility/limitations including memory, storage, network availability, coverage, accessibility and data conversion limitations. Services (including without limitation, eligibility requirements, plans, pricing, features and/or service areas) are subject to change without notice. When outside coverage area, access will be limited to information and applications previously downloaded to or resident on your device. Coverage areas vary between AT&T BroadbandConnect, EDGE and GRPS. AT&T BroadbandConnect only available in select markets. See coverage map(s), available at store or from your sales representative, for details. AT&T BroadbandConnect download speeds only available on the AT&T BroadbandConnect network. Actual download speeds depend upon device characteristics, network, network availability and coverage levels, tasks, file characteristics, applications and other factors. Performance may be impacted by transmission limitations, terrain, in-building/in-vehicle use and capacity constraints.


Information/Content:
Certain information or content is provided by independently owned and operated content providers or service providers who are subject to change at any time without notice. AT&T IS NOT A PUBLISHER OF THIRD-PARTY INFORMATION OR CONTENT AND IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY OPINIONS, ADVICE, STATEMENTS, OR OTHER INFORMATION, SERVICES OR GOODS PROVIDED BY THIRD PARTIES. Third-party content or service providers may impose additional charges. Policies regarding intellectual property, privacy and other policies may differ among AT&T's content or service providers and you are bound by such policies when you visit their respective sites or use their services. It is your responsibility to read the rules or service agreements of each content provider or service provider. Any information you involuntarily or voluntarily provide third parties is governed by their policies. The accuracy, appropriateness, content, completeness, timeliness, usefulness, security, safety, merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, transmission or correct sequencing of any information or downloaded data is not guaranteed or warranted by AT&T or any content providers or other third party. Delays or omissions may occur. Neither AT&T nor its content providers, service providers or other third parties shall be liable to you for any loss or injury arising out of or caused, in whole or in part, by any information acquired through the Service. You acknowledge that every business or personal decision, to some degree or another, represents an assumption of risk, and that neither AT&T nor its content and service providers or suppliers, in providing access to information, underwrites, can underwrite, or assumes your risk in any manner whatsoever.


Prohibited and Permissible Uses:
Data Service sessions may be conducted only for the following purposes: (i) Internet browsing; (ii) email; and (iii) corporate intranet access (including access to corporate email, customer relationship management, sales force automation, and field service automation applications). PROHIBITED USES INCLUDE, BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO, USING SERVICES: (I) WITH SERVER DEVICES OR WITH HOST COMPUTER APPLICATIONS, INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, WEB CAMERA POSTS OR BROADCASTS, CONTINUOUS JPEG FILE TRANSFERS, AUTOMATIC DATA FEEDS, TELEMETRY APPLICATIONS, PEER-TO-PEER (P2P) FILE SHARING, AUTOMATED FUNCTIONS OR ANY OTHER MACHINE-TO-MACHINE APPLICATIONS; (II) AS SUBSTITUTE OR BACKUP FOR PRIVATE LINES OR DEDICATED DATA CONNECTIONS; (III) FOR VOICE OVER IP; (IV) IN CONJUNCTION WITH WWAN OR OTHER APPLICATIONS OR DEVICES WHICH AGGREGATE USAGE FROM MULTIPLE SOURCES PRIOR TO TRANSMISSION; (V) USING THE SERVICES FOR ANY ACTIVITY THAT ADVERSELY AFFECTS THE ABILITY OF OTHER PEOPLE OR SYSTEMS TO USE EITHER THE SERVICES OR OTHER PARTIES' INTERNET-BASED RESOURCES INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO EXCESSIVE CONSUMPTION OF NETWORK OR SYSTEM RESOURCES (WHETHER INTENTIONAL OR UNINTENTIONAL) AND "DENIAL OF SERVICE" (DOS) ATTACKS AGAINST ANOTHER NETWORK HOST OR INDIVIDUAL USER; OR (VI) INTERFERENCE WITH OR DISRUPTION OF OTHER NETWORK USERS, NETWORK SERVICES OR NETWORK EQUIPMENT. EXCEPT FOR CONTENT FORMATTED IN ACCORDANCE WITH AT&T'S WIRELESS CONTENT STANDARDS, UNLIMITED PLANS CANNOT BE USED FOR UPLOADING, DOWNLOADING OR STREAMING OF VIDEO CONTENT (E.G. MOVIES, TV), MUSIC OR GAMES. FURTHERMORE, PLANS (UNLESS SPECIFICALLY DESIGNATED FOR TETHERING USAGE) CANNOT BE USED FOR ANY APPLICATIONS THAT TETHER THE DEVICE (THROUGH USE OF, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION, CONNECTION KITS, OTHER PHONE/PDA-TO-COMPUTER ACCESSORIES, BLUETOOTH® OR ANY OTHER WIRELESS TECHNOLOGY) TO LAPTOPS, PCS, OR OTHER EQUIPMENT FOR ANY PURPOSE. Service is not intended to provide full-time connections, and the Service may be discontinued after a significant period of inactivity or after sessions of excessive usage. AT&T reserves the right to (i) limit throughput or amount of data transferred, deny Service and/or terminate Service, without notice, to anyone it believes is using the Service in any manner prohibited above or whose usage adversely impacts its wireless network or service levels or hinders access to its wireless network and (ii) protect its wireless network from harm, which may impact legitimate data flows. You may not send solicitations to AT&T's wireless subscribers without their consent. You may not use the Services other than as intended by AT&T and applicable law. Plans are for individual, non-commercial use only and are not for resale.


Security:
AT&T DOES NOT GUARANTEE SECURITY. Data encryption is available with some, but not all, Services sold by AT&T. If you use your device to access company email or information, it is your responsibility to ensure your use complies with your company's internal IT and security procedures.


Changes to the terms and conditions:
These terms and conditions may be changed from time-to-time. AT&T will post the most current version of these terms and conditions at att.com/MediaTerms or other appropriate location. Please check these regularly to inform yourself about changes to the terms and conditions.


Access Requirements:
Additional hardware, software, subscription, credit or debit card, Internet access from your compatible PC and/or special network connection may be required and you are solely responsible for arranging for or obtaining all such requirements. Some solutions may require third party products and/or services, which are subject to any applicable third party terms and conditions and may require separate purchase from and/or agreement with the third party provider. AT&T is not responsible for any consequential damages caused in any way by the preceding hardware, software or other items/requirements for which you are responsible.


Miscellaneous:
Not all plans or Services are available for purchase or use in all sales channels, in all areas or with all devices. If your usage of the Services (including unlimited data plans) on other carriers' wireless networks ('offnet usage') during any two consecutive months exceeds your offnet usage allowance, AT&T may at its option terminate your wireless service or access to data Services, deny your continued use of other carriers' coverage, or change your plan to one imposing usage charges for offnet usage. Your offnet usage allowance is equal to the lesser of 6 megabytes or 20% of the kilobytes included with your plan and for messaging plans the lesser of 3000 messages or 50% of the messages included with your plan. AT&T will provide notice that it intends to take any of the above actions and you may terminate your agreement. You may be required to (1) use a device programmed with AT&T's preferred roaming database; and (2) have a mailing address and live in the United States, Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands. AT&T is not responsible for loss or disclosure of any sensitive information you transmit. AT&T's wireless services are not equivalent to landline Internet. AT&T is not responsible for nonproprietary services or their effects on devices. If applicable, use of Desktop Toolbar requires compatible home computer products. AT&T reserves the right to terminate your Services with or without cause, including without limitation, upon expiration or termination of your Wireless Service Agreement. Caller ID blocking is not available when using the Services, and your wireless number is transmitted to Internet sites you visit. You may receive unsolicited messages from third parties as a result of visiting Internet sites, and a per-message charge may apply whether the message is read or unread, solicited or unsolicited.


Additional Terms:
See below for additional terms relating to specific Services. In addition, all use of AT&T's wireless network and the Services is governed by AT&T's Acceptable Use Policy, which can be found at att.com/AcceptableUsePolicy, as determined solely by AT&T. AT&T can revise its Acceptable Use Policy at any time without notice by updating this posting. Use of the Services is subject to Terms and Conditions of your Wireless Service Agreement. See Wireless Service Agreement, att.com/wireless or AT&T Customer Service for additional conditions, restrictions, privacy policy and information.


Intellectual Property:
All trademarks, service marks and trade names used on or in connection with the Services are the property of their respective owners. You must respect the intellectual property rights of AT&T, our third-party content providers, and any other owner of intellectual property whose protected property may appear on any website and/or dialogue box controlled by AT&T or accessed through the AT&T's websites. Except for material in the public domain, all material displayed in association with the Service is copyrighted or trademarked. Except for personal, non-commercial use, trademarked and copyrighted material may not be copied, downloaded, redistributed or otherwise exploited, in whole or in part, without the permission of the owner. The GSM lettermark is a trademark of the GSM Association. The RIM and BlackBerry families of related marks, images and symbols are the exclusive properties and trademarks or registered trademarks of Research In Motion Limited ' used by permission. Good, the Good logo and GoodLink are trademarks of Good Technology, Inc., in the United States and/or other countries. Good Technology, Inc., and its products and services are not related to, sponsored by or affiliated with Research In Motion Limited. AT&T, AT&T logo and Cingular are trademarks of AT&T Knowledge Ventures and/or AT&T affiliated companies. Subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. provide products and services under the AT&T brand. © 2007 AT&T Knowledge Ventures. All rights reserved.



There you have it. Thats the 7,700 plus terms and conditions for AT&T's data wireless service. Now there have some complaints about some of the conditions of AT & T . For instance, this statement apparently means that you can be charged twice for one call.

“You may be charged for both an incoming and an outgoing call when incoming calls are routed to voicemail, even if no message is left.”

Here's another controversial statement, it states that their unlimited data plan is not unlimited,

“AT&T reserves the right to (i) limit throughput or amount of data transferred, deny Service and/or terminate Service, without notice, to anyone it believes is using the Service in any manner prohibited above or whose usage adversely impacts its wireless network or service levels or hinders access to its wireless network “

If you want to learn more about the negative or controversial parts of AT&T's terms and conditions then you can check them out at mouseprint.org or at TeleTruth. I hope this post has helped you gain a better understanding of AT&T's terms and conditions. Remember to read the fine print of any service that you sign.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Terms Applicable to ATand T's Nation GSM Plans

These are the terms that are applicable AT&T's Nation GSM Plans. The whole terms and conditions are quite long so let me break it down to a series of posts. I mean it's over 7,000 words so if you are interested in their service you should read the terms and services carefully.




Credit approval required.

Subscriber must live and have a mailing address within AT&T's owned network coverage area . An early termination fee of $175 applies if service is terminated before the end of the contract term. If phone is returned within 3 days, activation fee will be refunded. If phone is returned within 30 days in like-new condition with all components, early termination fee will be waived. All other charges apply. Some dealers impose additional fees.


Minute Increment Billing and Usage:

Airtime and other measured usage are billed in full-minute increments, and actual airtime and usage are rounded up to the next full increment at the end of each call for billing purposes. AT&T charges a full-minute increment of usage for every fraction of the last minute used on each wireless call. Minutes will be depleted according to usage in the following order: Night and Weekend Minutes, Mobile to Mobile Minutes, Anytime Minutes and Rollover® Minutes . Calls placed on networks served by other carriers may take longer to be processed, and billing for these calls may be delayed. Those minutes will be applied against your Anytime monthly minutes in the month in which the calls appear on your bill. Unanswered outgoing calls of 30 seconds or longer incur airtime. You may obtain usage information by calling customer service or using one of our automated systems.

Pricing/Taxes/No Proration:

Final month's charges are not prorated. Prices are subject to change. Prices do not include taxes.


Activation Fees: $36
Activation Fee for each new line.


Nights and Weekends:

Nights are 9:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. Weekends are 9:00 p.m. Friday to 6:00 a.m. Monday (based on time of day at switch providing your service). Included long distance calls can be made from the 50 United States, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands to the 50 United States, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and Northern Mariana Islands. Roaming charges do not apply when roaming within the service area of land-based networks of the 50 United States, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. International long distance rates vary. Additional charges apply to services used outside the land borders of the U.S., Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands.


Unlimited Voice Services:

Unlimited voice services are provided solely for live dialog between two individuals. Unlimited voice services may not be used for conference calling, call forwarding, monitoring services, data transmissions, transmission of broadcasts, transmission of recorded material, or other connections that do not consist of uninterrupted live dialog between two individuals. If AT&T finds that you are using an unlimited voice service offering for other than live dialog between two individuals, AT&T may at its option terminate your service or change your plan to one with no unlimited usage components. AT&T will provide notice that it intends to take any of the above actions, and you may terminate the agreement.


Off-net Usage:

If your minutes of use (including unlimited services) on other carrier networks ("off-net usage") during any two consecutive months exceeds your off-net usage allowance, AT&T may at its option terminate your service, deny your continued use of other carriers' coverage, or change your plan to one imposing usage charges for off-net usage. Your off-net usage allowance is equal to the lesser of 750 minutes or 40% of the Anytime Minutes included with your plan. AT&T will provide notice that it intends to take any of the above actions, and you may terminate the agreement.


Caller ID Blocking:

Your billing name may be displayed along with your wireless number on outbound calls to other wireless and landline phones with Caller ID capability. Contact customer service for information on blocking the display of your name and number. You may be charged for both an incoming and an outgoing call when incoming calls are routed to voicemail, even if no message is left. See Wireless Service Agreement for additional conditions and restrictions.


Rollover® Minutes :

Rollover® Minutes accumulate and expire through 12 rolling bill periods. Bill Period 1 (activation) unused Anytime Minutes will not carry over. Bill Period 2 unused Anytime Minutes will begin to carry over. Rollover® Minutes accumulated starting with Bill Period 2 will expire each bill period as they reach a 12 bill period age. Rollover® Minutes will also expire immediately upon default or if customer changes to a non-Rollover® plan. If you change plans (including the formation of a FamilyTalk plan), or if an existing subscriber joins your existing FamilyTalk plan, any accumulated in excess of your new plan or the primary FamilyTalk line's included Anytime Minutes will expire. Rollover® Minutes are not redeemable for cash or credit and are not transferable.


Mobile to Mobile Minutes:

Mobile to Mobile Minutes may be used, subject to the above provisions governing unlimited usage, when directly dialing or receiving calls from any other AT&T wireless phone number from within your calling area. Mobile to Mobile Minutes may not be used for interconnection to other networks. Calls to AT&T Voicemail and return calls from Voicemail not included.


It's always a good idea to read a carrier's terms and conditons because they may greatly affect you. AT&T can for instance apparently disconnect a user's service for spreading negative messages through blog posts or other mediums. Take a look at this statement:

“AT&T may immediately terminate or suspend all or a portion of your Service, any Member ID, electronic mail address, IP address, Universal Resource Locator or domain name used by you, without notice, for conduct that AT&T believes … tends to damage the name or reputation of AT&T, or its parents, affiliates and subsidiaries.”

I know that reading a statement as long as AT&T's can test anyone's patience to it's limits. Nevertheless, it is still important that you as a customer will be able to get a firm grasp on what it's saying. I'll talk about the next part in my next post.