Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Simple Language in Wireless Contracts

If you've ever read a wireless contract, then you know that a layman won't be able to easily understand all the policies that are stated in the agreement.

The complicated language used in wireless contracts may be one of the main reasons why consumer complaints over policies have risen in recent years. I previously blogged about wireless contract disputes in this blog so it's clear that misunderstandings occur.

A contract is a long document with plenty of fine print and combined this with sophisticated language, a consumer will often choose not to read it at all. This means that a consumers is not fully aware of the agreements and policies contained in the wireless contract which often lead to complaints and disputes.

Perhaps the US mobile phone industry should follow the example of their neighbors up North. The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association has recently introduced a code of conduct that aims to minimize disputes between carriers and consumers. The code obliges wireless service providers to provide subscribers with complete details on rates, charges, terms and coverage and help them understand contracts.

Here's a key statement from the code of conduct:
“We strive to communicate with our customers in plain, simple language. This includes taking steps to make sure that that our documents, including service agreements, contracts, and invoices are clear and readable.
I think this is a good approach. The FCC has started a inquiry into the billing practices of wireless operators and a similar code might help.

Do you agree that wireless contracts should contain simple language?

That's it for this post. Tune in to this blog for more news and updates on wireless contracts and related topics.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

List of Advanced Devices with Verizon's $350 ETF

Verizon Wireless' increased early termination fee became effective a few days ago. The $350 ETF applies to a select number of devices and will decline by $10 per month through the life of the contract. The carrier has released the list of advanced products that will be covered by the new policy.

I expected this Verizon Wireless early termination fee to be imposed on elite products. However, the carrier appears to have included a large number of products in its new wireless contract policy. Here are the products included in the increased Verizon Wireless early termination fee.
  • Blackberry 8130
  • Blackberry 8130 Pink
  • Blackberry 8230
  • Blackberry 8703E
  • Blackberry 8830
  • Blackberry 8830 Red
  • BlackBerry Tour
  • BlackBerry Tour (No camera)
  • BlackBerry Curve 8330
  • BlackBerry Curve 8330 Pink
  • BlackBerry Storm 9530
  • BlackBerry Storm2 9550
  • Casio Exlim C721
  • LG Versa VX9600
  • LG Dare VX9700
  • LG Env Touch VX11000
  • LG Versa VX9600WOK
  • LG Voyager VX10K Silver
  • Gateway LT20 Netbook Gateway LT2016u
  • Samsung Glyde SCH-U940
  • Samsung Glyde Revision SCH-U940R
  • HP MINI 1000 Netbook
  • HP Mini 110–1046NR Netbook
  • HP Mini 3111037NR Netbook
  • HTC Droid ERIS ADR6200
  • HTC Imagio HTC Imagio XV6975
  • HTC Ozone XV6175
  • HTC Touch Diamond XV6950
  • HTC Touch Pro XV6850
  • HTC Vogue XV6900
  • Motorola Krave MOT ZN4
  • Motorola Q9C
  • Motorola Droid A855
  • Samsung Omnia SCH-I910
  • Samsung Rogue SCH-u960
  • Samsung Saga SCH-I770
  • Samsung SCH-i760
  • UTStarcom SMT5800
  • Palm Treo Pro
  • Palm CENTRO
  • Verizon Hub VZHUB
  • UTStarcom XV6800
  • UTStarcom XV6875
So yeah. They included quite a number of handsets under the new wireless contract policy. Even the devices that were launched more than a year ago.

I have to say that some of these devices shouldn't have been categories under advanced.

That's it for this posts on the products under the new Verizzon ETF rule. Tune in to this blog for more news and updates on wireless contract topics.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

US Senator Opposes the Verizon Wireless Contract ETF Increase

Verizon Wireless recently announced it's intention to raise the early termination fee or ETF of premiere device to $350 starting on November 15. However, it appears that this change in wireless contract policy has caught the eye of a vigilant US senator.

Senator Amy Klobuchar is planning to introduce new legislation to prevent wireless carriers from unfairly raising penalties on costumers who cancel their contracts early. This would obviously be in conflict with Verizon's decision to raise the ETF on premiere devices.

I blogged about Senator Klobuchar in the early development of this blog because she is one of the main proponents of the Cell Phone Consumer Empowerment Act of 2007. This legislation aimed to allow consumers to be able to make informed choices about a wireless service that best fits their needs and their budget.

Anyway, wrote the FCC regarding the recent shift in Verizon's wireless contract ETF policy. She wrote,
"Verizon Wireless' decision shows us once again that the wireless industry cannot police itself and will not, on its own, make its practices more competitive and consumer-friendly. To that end, I urge the FCC to review the recent Verizon Wireless decision as well as the competitive and economic impact of ETFs on wireless consumers."
She also wrote a letter to Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam urging him to reconsider the shift in ETF policy because it "unfairly penalize consumers" and "bear little to no relationship to the cost of the handset device."

Well, this is certainly interesting. Well see how this plays out. I doubt if Klobuchar will be able to stop this changes in Verizon's ETF policy but with a little help for her colleagues it might just work.

That's it for this latest development in the Verizon early termination fee saga. Tune-in for more developments in this story.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

No Changes in Sprint ETF Policy

Verizon Wireless recently announced its decision to increase the early termination fee or ETF for its premier or advanced devices. Starting the 15th of November, the ETF for Verizon's high-end products will be $350 declines by $10 per month through the life of the contract.

I was wondering how other major carrier's will react to this change in major wireless contract policy. Well, so far only Sprint has issued a statement via Twitter:
One more tweet on ETF policy. We won't be following suit as other carriers increase fees. Official Sprint ETF policy
Sprint is Verizon's main competitor among CDMA wireless networks. Maybe the Now Networks is trying to gain an advantage by not emulating the ETF increase instituted by its rival. Well, they probably need all the help they can get as they are planning to cut costs by cutting jobs.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Some experts think that this shift in wireless contract fees will lead people to purchase devices for its full price to avoid any trouble with the ETF. However, the full price is quite heavy and with the weight of the recession, consumers may go for mid range devices which charges the normal $175 early termination fee.

That's it for this post. Tune in to this blog for more news and info on the wireless contract issues.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Confirmed: Verizon to Raise ETF to $350 on Premiere Devices

A couple of days ago I blogged a rumor claiming that Verizon Wireless might raise its early termination fees for high-end products to dissuade scammers. Well, that rumor has been confirmed.

According to the folks at Phonescoop, Jeffrey Nelson, a Verizon Wireless spokesperson has confirmed the rumor.

This means that the $350 early termination fee will apply to new wireless contracts for advanced devices beginning Nov. 15. The will fee will decline by $10 a month.

The early termination fee for non-premiere devices remains at $175.

However, the devices that will incur a $350 Verizon Wireless early termination fee have not been specified. the new policy will not be limited to mobile phones and will also apply to notebooks.

So what do you think? Well, I don't really mind. After all, this only applies to a limited number of consumers. Those who choose to close the service before the term is up and those who are after the premiere devices.

The strategy aims to prevent people from reselling handsets on online auction sites. I think it's a good strategy on the part of Verizon since it protects their exclusive handsets. I wonder if other carriers will also adopt this wireless contract policy.

That's it for this update on the Verizon Wireless early termination fee increase. Continue to visit this blog to get the latest news and views on wireless contracts.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Rumor: Verizon Wireless Early Termination Fee to be Raised?

Here's some intriguing news for Verizon Wireless consumers. According to the folks at BGR, the carrier maybe considering raising its early termination fees to thwart scammers.

The report say that the Verizon Wireless early termination fee for high-end phones such as the Storm2 and Motorola Droid will be raised to to $350. This will be implemented on Nov. 15 and will decrease by five bucks every thirty days. The usual ETF amounts to around $150-200 so the rumored increase is significant.

But what is the main reason for this possible increase in Verizon Wireless early termination fee for high-end smartphones?

Well, it appears that the carrier is trying to crack down on scammers who purchase a new smartphone on contract and then cancel the line, pay the termination fee and sell the phone for twice or three times its original price.

We've already explained that contract fees are the primary tool that allow carriers to recover the subsidies they’d lose on early contract terminations. This means that this increase in Verizon Wireless early termination fee can be justified.

Well, this is just a rumor so it may not happen. Tune in to this blog for more updates on this increase in Verizon Wireless early termination fee rumor. Drop by often to get the latest news and views on wireless contracts.