Google, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile all banded together this week to defend their early-termination fees to the Federal Communications Commission. Some of the penalties to get out of your smartphone contract run up to $350, but the companies say the cost of subsidizing smartphones is hefty, and it’s only fair for customers to shoulder some of the burden if they decide to cut out early.
It didn’t take long for consumer watchdog group Free Press to respond to the companies’ claims. M. Chris Riley, policy counsel of Free Press, issued a statement, saying:
“Here’s what we know: Wireless bills are too high, and they come saddled with higher hidden fees and penalties; service quality is mediocre at best; and wireless companies are neither reducing prices nor investing enough in improved networks. The information provided today by the wireless carriers is completely inadequate for the FCC to resolve these excessive and unfair early termination fees plaguing consumers.
“If the carriers are not voluntarily going to provide more information to the FCC about their real costs and why fees are so high, then the time has come for the FCC to move forward on more consumer-friendly policies. Free Press recommends that the FCC take the next step and move ahead with a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on truth in billing. The carrot doesn’t seem to be helping — now it’s time for the stick.”
Apparently Free Press isn’t satisfied with the carriers’ defense. What do you think?