Monday, May 12, 2008

New Class Action Suits Filed Against Sprint and Verizon

Here we go again. It seems that class action suits are once again targeting wireless carriers. I have made several post that documented the disputes between carriers and customers over wireless contracts and other aspect of consumer-seller relationship. Let's take a look at the case filed against Sprint.

Sprint has been the subject of numerous class action suits and this time the mobile phone carrier has been accused of charging subscribers for unauthorized mobile content. A similar complaint was hurled against Alltel more than a month ago in Illinois federal court.

Subscribers have accused
Sprint of billing customers of unauthorized charges that are caused by collaboration between wireless carriers and aggregators that represent premium mobile content providers. The lawsuit that began in state court before being moved to federal court in Kansas states:
“Sprint has for years been systematically, repeatedly and without authorization, billing its customers for purchases of products and services not agreed to by those customers. Sprint and third-party service providers have, on information and belief, profited significantly through this practice.”

In response to this accusation, Sprint emphasized that they are adhering to standard industry practices. A spokesman commented that "we adhere to the Mobile Marketing Association guidelines which emphasize the need for subscriber consent before third-party content is delivered to a handset.”

Sprint's wireless contract devotes a paragraph to third party-content. Here is a part of that paragraph

To protect our network, Services, or for other reasons, we may place restrictions on accessing certain Data Content (such as certain websites, applications, etc.), impose separate charges, limit throughput or the amount of data you can transfer, or otherwise limit or terminate Services. If we provide you storage for Data Content you have purchased, we may delete the Data Content with notice or place restrictions/limits on the use of storage areas. You may not be able to make or receive voice calls while using data Services.
Let's now look at the class action suit launched against Verizon Wireless. The wireless carrier is once again being accused of violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The complaint filed inn Alabama federal court claims that TransUnion L.L.C. and Verizon are ruining the credit of a wireless subscriber. Verizon Wireless and Alltel Communications L.L.C.. were also accused of violating FCRA laws in Pennsylvania and Georgia federal courts because of alleged breaches of credit privacy.

According to the plaintiff, Verizon Wireless is continuously trying to collect more than $1,000 from him. He feels that this is unlawful because The carrier falsely reported the disputed debt on his credit reports. The plaintiff claims to have followed Verizon Wireless’ instructions with regards to dealing with possible identity theft by filing l out a police report and sending a copy to the carrier.

Unfortunately, the problem remained even though, a collection agency later received the police report. The plaintiff was forced to
contact TransUnion L.L.C. and Equifax because the overdue account remained on his credit reports. Equifax responded by removing the account but TransUnion allegedly did not do the same.

Verizon declined to release any statements in response to this accusations. Here is a part of Verizon's wireless contract statements on credit information,

You’ve authorized us to investigate your credit history at any time and to share credit information about you with credit reporting agencies and our affiliates. If you ask, we’ll tell you the name and address of any credit agency that gives us a credit report about you. It’s illegal for unauthorized people to intercept your calls, but such interceptions can occur. For training or quality assurance, we may also monitor or record our calls with you.
I hope that both parties can sort out their differences and reach a settlement. Of course, it would be naive to think that wireless contract disputes and other problems will cease.The mobile phone industry is among the leader at customer complaints so it's unlikely that customers will stop filing complaints against their service providers.

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