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Cellular freedom: bill would cut early termination fees, hidden charges
Written by Daniel   
Tuesday, 11 September 2007 10:26
Cellular freedom: bill would cut early termination fees, hidden charges
ARS Technica
By Eric Bangeman | Published: September 10, 2007 - 10:42PM CT

Cellular phone service in the US is a mixed bag. While US residents enjoy the widespread availability of 3G networks and gadget candy like the iPhone, there is also a confusing morass of fees, contracts, and phones tethered to their providers via locking. The new Cell Phone Empowerment Act of 2007 aims to change much of that.

Introduced late last week by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), the consumer-friendly bill would force cellular providers to change some of their ways. First off, companies would be barred from charging any fees beyond those mandated by local, state, and federal governments. That means no more hidden fees, as overage charges would be listed separately.

Early termination fees would also be prorated, with customers looking to get out of their contracts only forced to pay half of the termination fee at the halfway point of the contract.

Speaking of contracts, cell phone companies would have to begin notifying customers of changes to their contracts in writing. In fact, contract extensions would not be valid unless the cellular company provides point-of-sale notice and gives the customer 30 days to cancel. Cellular subscribers would also get a 30-day grace period at the beginning of a contract during which they could opt out for any reason. Members of the US military would also be able to terminate their contracts if they are deployed outside of the US for longer than 90 days.... More.

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