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FCC Probes Google and T-Mobile For Double-Whammy Fees 127

Posted by samzenpus
from the maximizing-the-dip-to-chip-ratio dept.
Julie188 writes "On Monday, the FCC asked Google, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon to explain how they tell their customers about early wireless contract termination fees. Notice that Google is the only handset retailer in the bunch. That's because if someone buys a Nexus One phone from Google with a two-year T-Mobile contract, and the user wants out of that contract, the user is expected to pay two early termination fees. One fee would be charged by Google and a second charged by T-Mobile."
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FCC Probes Google and T-Mobile For Double-Whammy Fees

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  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Thursday January 28, 2010 @04:31AM (#30931086)

    If they really want to know how these conditions are presented, it's better that they send in a few investigators undercover and get it all on tape. That way they can cost the jobs of a few lowest-rung minimum wage idiots who are working their ass off for a couple percent commission.

    At least they will catch someone. Maybe the FCC isn't familiar with the "exculpatory no". They will become very familiar with it asking the policy makers at these companies, though. So that's nice.

  • by jjoelc (1589361) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @04:31AM (#30931088)

    Actually, I think the law requires that the carriers include these early termination fees in print no larger than 3 scan lines to remain on screen for no more than 3 frames during any commercial to be aired between the hours of 3:27a-3:28a... As an alternative, it may be included in the microprint of the signature line of any contract signed by the customer.

    For communications companies, they are awfully good at not telling you anything they don't want you to pay attention to.

  • T-Mobile? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EzInKy (115248) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @04:47AM (#30931170)

    When I went to my nearest T-Mobile store to sign up for service for my N900 they seemed to have no qualms over activating my device despite the fact that it allowed me the freedom to install whatever software I felt like it on it.

    Now, from the very frequent stories I see posted here related to the iPhone and Android, I have been gathering that the same does not hold true for those devices.

    In fact it appears in many cases that owners of those devices are subject not only to the whims of carriers, but the device manufacturers themselves.

    So really, what is the problem here? You buy it, you do want you want with it. You lease it, you do want they want with it. Seems to me that somebody wants to muddy the waters between ownership and rental.

  • Re:Fuck Google (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 28, 2010 @05:01AM (#30931228)

    I'm sick of it being painted as some knight in shining armour company that shits butterflies and rescues kittens in it's spare time.

    To be fair, if you compare all of the services it provides for seemingly gratis, it's understandable why people have such a love for Google. I think the love for Google runs deeper than other oft-followed companies.

    This whole issue strikes at the core of a bigger problem: the generally fucked state of cellphones in the USA. I expect stupid termination fees, simply because we do the entire cell phone business ass-backwards compared to the rest of the world.

    So, as much as I love Google, if it has to eat it in the courts a little bit to start fixing our fucking cell phone industry, then so be it. Doesn't mean I don't enjoy the hell out of my free Gmail, Google Voice, etc...

  • by cbope (130292) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @05:53AM (#30931506)

    You state that the government shouldn't regulate everything, but then give an example of a benefit of such regulation. Interesting.

    I'm not pro-regulation either for the most part, but in too many cases large corporations in the US are unfairly taking advantage of the consumer. As an American living abroad, I'm glad I live in Finland where at least we have some consumer protection, unlike the US. I think a lot of the blame falls to ignorance among the general American populace of what goes on in the rest of the world. The steady decline of "real" news reporting and investigative reporting in the US over the past few decades is huge.

    News-tainment and celebrity-worship is the rage these days... sadly.

  • Re:Fuck Google (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rennt (582550) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @06:43AM (#30931704)

    I'm sorry, but I've got no sympathy for people who sign up for a subsidized service and don't read the conditions.

    The time to complain about a contract is BEFORE you sign it, not after you decide you want to back out of it.

  • Re:T-Mobile? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by itsdapead (734413) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @06:53AM (#30931740)

    So really, what is the problem here? You buy it, you do want you want with it. You lease it, you do want they want with it.

    Trouble is, the way phones are typically sold - free or heavily subsidised as part of a service contract - is closer to leasing than buying. Since this is the dominant business model, it has a splash back on the way manufacturers design their product, even if you buy it "naked" (I have a nasty suspicion that it also means that "naked" phones are sold at artificially inflated prices to make the subsidies more attractive...)

    It also depends on how you perceive phones: if you buy a general-purpose computer, you expect it to be a universal tool that you can freely program or install software on and still enjoy the manufacturer's support. If, however, you buy a washing mashine and try and convert it to use dry-cleaning solvent you accept that, if it blows up, that's your fault. When phones were just phones, they clearly fitted into the latter category. Smartphones are in a bit of a limbo: people want to run arbitrary software on them but they also expect them to perform reliably as a phone.

  • by data2 (1382587) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @07:35AM (#30931908)

    Ok, maybe you are right there. So who do we want to blame? :)

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