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New Bill to Clarify Cellphone Contracts

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the immediately-suspect-for-caring-about-the-common-man dept.

Communications 177

theorem4 writes to tell us that US Senators today unveiled legislation designed to empower cell phone customers across the nation by providing more protections and guaranteed options. "The Cell Phone Consumer Empowerment Act of 2007 will require wireless service providers to share simple, clear information on their services and charges with customers before they enter into long-term contracts; a thirty-day window in which to exit a contract without early termination fees; and greater flexibility to exit contracts with services that don't meet their needs."

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money (4, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#20518987)

watch for the "but we need to make money" argument... which is flawed - you also MUST provide a reasonable level of service to deserve said money

Re:money (2, Insightful)

Phoenix Wright (1153585) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519071)

Nonsense.

If someone is willing to pay an amount for any arbitrary level of service (or even no service), that amount can (and will) be charged.

Businesses will always charge the highest amount people are willing to pay. That's capitalism.

"Must"? "Deserve"? These terms have no meaning when it comes to the free market.

Re:money (5, Insightful)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519135)

That only works when the market is overflowing with "sellers". In a near-monopoly position people can be forced into much, MUCH worse conditions simply because they need the service and they can't get a deal that doesn't require pledging their first-born.

Re:money (2, Informative)

Phoenix Wright (1153585) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519265)

Technically true, but does not apply to this situation.

Is there a monopoly for cell phones? What is the name of this monopoly carrier? Oh, there's more than one? And they compete against each other? Hmm.

I understand what you are saying, but there is no near-monopoly. It's not super expensive to get into the business band and set up a private repeater (a la, Cricket). I mean, sure, it's not hobbiest-level, but with minimal financial backing you could put a service up for your town, and then charge what you want. Would you have national coverage like the big players? No, is that a requirement?

The current prices are what they are because people pay them. If people wouldn't pay them, they'd be some other price.

And, cell service is very rarely a "need". (In my family, we all earned our ham radio licenses. Even in remote areas, we could often find a repeater or autodialer. Of course, the conversations weren't private, but if there were an emergency, we could call for help. And of course, free to use.)

Re:money (1, Flamebait)

TexVex (669445) | more than 7 years ago | (#20521995)

And they compete against each other?
No, they don't. How do you compete over customers who are locked into contracts? Cell phone carriers collude, and it doesn't matter if it's complicit or implicit collusion. Each carrier has its own brands of phones, which are built to be incompatible with each others' networks, so that means the cell phone manufacturers are in on the deal as well. Because of the contract-subsidized discounts (it's really usury in disguise) on the locked-in phones, they can and do overcharge for the phones. Computers are dirt cheap because of competition -- why aren't cell phones?

The current prices are what they are because people pay them.
People pay them because they have no other choice.

Re:money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20519395)

This type of legislation is typically promoted by the large businesses in the industry who already provide these services to force their smaller competitors to scramble to meet the legislation or become extinct through government-imposed costs.

Re:money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20519267)

Businesses will always charge the highest amount people are willing to pay. That's capitalism.

And when there are only two companies on the market for most regions of the U.S., and those two companies engage in collusion, then the "highest amount" rises excessively while quality of service decreases. People are not choosing the service that provides the best value for their money, but instead, are being forced to choose between having some service for a lot of money, or having no service.

That's unregulated capitalism in the real world. Not quite like the textbook examples, eh?

Re:money (2, Insightful)

Phoenix Wright (1153585) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519309)

No, that's exactly how the textbook examples work.

And if you are paying for cell service, you are contributing to this "problem". If it's still worth it to you to pay these prices for these services, then you are getting what you pay for.

If it isn't, cancel. Go without. A cell phone is not a NEED. FOOD is a need; a cell phone is a WANT.

For the record, two companies don't have to engage in collusion to screw you over on prices. It is entirely likely that they are both trying to screw you on prices independently. Because that's how capitalism WORKS. If you raise prices, and people are still paying, the price was TOO LOW INITIALLY. Prices will rise to meet perceived value. If people, like yourself, see cell phones as absolutely essential, prices will continue to rise absolutely.

Re:money (2, Informative)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519361)

If it isn't, cancel. Go without. A cell phone is not a NEED. FOOD is a need; a cell phone is a WANT.

Yeah unless your job involves them. You won't be paying directly but since your job pays for them they get money anyway.

Re:money (2, Insightful)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 7 years ago | (#20520295)

If it isn't, cancel.

Agreed, except that being in a contract prevents this (or forces you to pay stiff penalties). Requiring more transparency in contracts and giving customers more options to cancel when the service doesn't meet their needs/expectations is fine by me.

Re:money (2, Insightful)

CBM (51233) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519327)

Markets are more efficient when information flows freely and is accurate.

Cell phone companies apparently obscure the terms of service and costs, and consumers end up being less than ideally informed. Competition in the cell phone industry is also limited since spectrum is a limited resource, and the barriers to entry are high.

For contract phones, the companies tend to compete on features rather than costs, for example number of minutes, "friends and family." For the market segment of consumers that are conscious cost, companies do offer prepaid phones.

Re:money (1)

bombastinator (812664) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519433)

Libertarian philosophy is not physics. Neither America nor almost any successful major government has ever had a totally free market. The American people can decide to "Deserve" anything they want to. Whether it's a good idea for them to do that in a given situation is another question entirely.

Re:money, crime is wrong, but maybe legal (1)

OldHawk777 (19923) | more than 7 years ago | (#20520791)

Fraud is never capitalism. Fraud is a crime that frequently will not be investigated/prosecuted in the USA. USA capitalism ended shortly after the civil war. The USA economy for the last 50 to 100 years has been a government mandated corporatist-zombie. The accumulation of profits are very personal focused, reinvestment of profits decrease for more accounting/stock-scams (not development/expansion), and gains are protected by government protected closed corporate market shenanigans. The new law will provide walk through room for different/more fraud.

Definition of Fraud: A deception deliberately practiced in order to secure unfair or unlawful gain. A piece of trickery; a trick.

Definition of Capitalism: An economic system in which the means of production and distribution are privately or corporately owned and development is proportionate to the accumulation and reinvestment of profits gained in a free market.

IOW: Yes, USA Biz-Management schools and the graduates are scam/crime factories with fool/criminal professors spewing and spinning plutocrat-dogma as CAPITALISM.

Your comments are a prevailing accepted truth about capitalist economics in the USA. Your comments help to prove pseudo-capitalism, lies, and crime are the defining functional factors of current USA economics.

Corporatist owned politicians are directed a/o puppet actors not leaders in the USA. The Iraq conflict profiteering, faux-patriotism rhetoric, and myth-faith preaching are used as marketeer hype for more legalized criminal activity digging another recession/depression pit for the general public with less than a $7-figure enfranchising annual income.

Allegorically, the public has become the metaphorical trash left behind by proverbial assholes who keep their hands clean by using brown-nose, fart-sucking, shit-eating politicians (most not all).

Anyway don't define reality by word-spin to support dogma.
Dogma is always a bullshit refuge for genocidal megalomaniacs and fools.
THINK or suffer the consequences, never use dogma to blame others.

Re:money (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 7 years ago | (#20521919)

"Must"? "Deserve"? These terms have no meaning when it comes to the free market.

Sure they do. A seller MUST represent the product honestly and the customer deserves to get what he paid for. That is also part of the free market and its enforcement is generally the one government intervention in the market that is generally accepted as a good idea.

In an age where so many cell providers routinely tack on unpredictable surcharges (you only find out about them on the first bill), lie about coverage, make a significant profit from "billing errors", and other such frauds there are really only two choices. Clog the courts with disputes and accept that more than half the population will get screwed over OR mandate that customers can easily exit the contract early to both limit the damage done and punish routine offenders in the market.

Why even that? (5, Insightful)

TheMCP (121589) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519425)

I intend to write my senators to oppose the bill, on the basis that it gives a stamp of approval to the whole idea of long term cell contracts: even if my cell provider provides perfectly good service, I should be able to drop them any time I feel like it, just like a landline phone. I can cancel a landline phone any time I want to, and the phone company has to cut the bill off based on the number of days of the month I actually had the phone line active. Why should a cellular provider be able to give me any less generous terms?

Many negative factors about the US cell phone system rely on the lengthy contracts or are caused by them: the US gets only the crappy phones the carriers choose to offer and not all the exciting phones sold in europe and japan, because in the US the carriers sell all the phones, because it's the excuse for the lengthy contracts. Indeed, the only really innovative phone to come along in the US is the iPhone, and even that is contractually tied to a single carrier. Also, in the US we have less technological advancement in the network itself because the carriers know you're locked in and can only use the phones they select, so they have less incentive to upgrade because you can't leave them and there's little competition if you could. Further, all the carriers have reputations for poor customer service and network reliability issues in some locations, and frankly they're also all reputed to not care very much, because they know that any customer churn they suffer will be replaced by incoming competitors fleeing the exact same problems from their "competitors".

If we eliminated the lengthy contracts, cell companies would lose their incentive to offer discounts on phones, and would likely choose to start charging full price for phones. This would likely result in a competitive market for equipment arising, resulting in more consumer choice. Further, carriers would then have to directly compete on plan prices and services, resulting in more consumer choice on plans, likely lower prices, and probably also the companies improving their network speed in an effort to actually compete with each other for a change. And of course, they'd have to start giving a damn about dropped calls instead of just blaming the customer, because the customer can actually drop them on the spot and go to someone else until they find someone who can actually give them reliable service.

So, I intend to write to my senators and tell them that if they really want to do any good in the cellular phone market, they should ban all cell phone contracts... or at least, ban all fees for breaking the contract, which would have essentially the same effect.

Re:Why even that? (2, Insightful)

Skater (41976) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519767)

Uh, I believe you can get cellphone service without a contract. Buy the phone outright then go monthly. Or get a prepaid cellular phone.

Re:Why even that? (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 7 years ago | (#20521743)

While I agree with you, keep in mind that in the US, there are a half dozen different kinds of cell phone technology. This causes 2 big problems, one, you can't take your Sprint Cell phone and move to T-Mobile service, because the phone won't work. And number 2, it is not cost effective to manufacture cheap, simple cell-phones in the US, because you would have to make several different types of the same phone. So the companies work closely with the cell-phone service companies, and develop the phones that the company wants. This results in expensive, customized phones that have loads of features I don't want!

Re:Why even that? (1)

leenks (906881) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519789)

Europe really isn't all that different you know... We generally have lengthy contracts (though O2 in the UK recently offered a 1month notice contract, but you BringYourOwnPhone and it is an exception to the norm) - many are 18 or 24 months now, and the phones are offered free or at a big discount if you take these contracts. Termination fees apply if you are within the contract period just the same as in the US.

Re:Why even that? (1)

Ajehals (947354) | more than 7 years ago | (#20520807)

You can get monthly contracts if you don't need or want a "free" phone, the issue is that all the high street retail shops will try to push a phone plus contract deal (to the point where some of the third party suppliers will tell you its the only way to do it). If you call a given carrier and tell them you have a phone and want to use it on their network with terms similar to one of their contracts they will set it up for you.

Re:Why even that? (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519825)

I should be able to drop them any time I feel like it, just like a landline phone. I can cancel a landline phone any time I want to, and the phone company has to cut the bill off based on the number of days of the month I actually had the phone line active. Why should a cellular provider be able to give me any less generous terms?

Because unlike a land line, these days you most likely get a phone in the deal. The expense has to be covered. If you own your phone free and clear, I agree. Otherwise, they have a right to make money like any other business, which includes recouping their investment in you as a customer.

Re:Why even that? (1)

insanepenguin (910259) | more than 7 years ago | (#20520125)

which includes recouping their investment in you as a customer. What does that mean? what investment does a cell phone company make when I walk in the door asking for service?

Re:Why even that? (1)

Agarax (864558) | more than 7 years ago | (#20520465)

When they give you a phone for a fraction of what it actually costs.

Re:Why even that? (1)

VanessaE (970834) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519899)

At the risk of sounding like a TV commercial, and ignoring the fact that pre-paid cell phones exist all over the country and can save money if you're careful with your usage, there's a service in California, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, and Texas called MetroPCS. They don't have long-term contracts, and you buy your own phone (only from them, it seems). Charges work like a land-line, in that you can shut it off any time you want without early-cancellation fees, and you pay a fixed price per month for the features you want. They sell most of the features either as packages or a la carte. The basic unlimited-local-calls plan runs $30/mo and you can add unlimited long distance for $10/mo. MetroPCS main page [metropcs.com]


Disclaimer: This info is from their ads. I am neither affiliated with, nor a customer of MetroPCS.

Re:Why even that? (1)

cartmans_trapperkeep (1151483) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519981)

You don't NEED to sign a contract.There has never been an absolute need to sign a contract to get cell service with ANY company. The reason contracts have become so common place is the need for Americans to have everything as CHEAP as possible. During college I worked selling cell phones for most of the big telecom players and with any of them you could purchase any of their phones at retail price and start service without a contract. Occasionally there were promotional deals you could not get under a month-to-month plan, but largely they didn't care. The reason for the contract is they simply need to recoup the price of the phone. Of course they add some extra time beyond getting the money back for their handset in order to profit, but that's the deal people accept. You don't have the cash to buy a house? Well you get screwed with interest in order to buy it on loan. You want a free phone? Well you get screwed with a two year contract. QUIT BEING CHEAP AMERICA!

Re:Why even that? (2, Insightful)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 7 years ago | (#20521591)

I agree with you to an extent, but I take exception to the "QUIT BEING CHEAP AMERICA!" Statement. It should be "QUIT BEING STUPID AMERICA!". The fact is, the argument that the phone companies need to recoup their costs, and thus put you under contract that requires you pay for the full price of the phone over time means that IT IS NOT A FEE PHONE. Thats right. If you are contractually obliged to pay for the whole phone through a service contract. It is not free.

The first thing that needs to be done is require companies to stop their blatant false advertising, and lying in contracts. They should require the companies to state that the phone is "financed" instead of allowing them to call it "free". Of course, it would be nice if the music and movie industry were required to say "license" instead of "buy" as well, and music downloads should be requried to be called "rentals".

Until the NewSpeak is stopped, we will continue to have these kinds of problems.

Re:Why even that? (4, Insightful)

Skapare (16644) | more than 7 years ago | (#20520019)

I have to disagree with you. Contracts should not be banned. Some people even like those. They can get a new phone every couple years without paying a lot up front. These are the same people that lease cars and trade up every 2 or 3 years.

Cell phone contracts used to be the only way the majority of people could afford a cell phone. This practice emerged from the days of mobile phones before cellular technology, which existed at least as far back as the 1950's although I don't know what all the terms were then. The first one I ever saw even used tubes (not transistors) inside a pair of large boxes installed in the trunk of a car. When cellular technology emerged, the phones were still fairly large and also expensive due to lack of economy of scale. That, of course, eventually changed.

The problem is, of course, the cell phone service providers still like the term contracts for many reasons I'm sure you are aware of. They try to make it hard for people to get phone service, or even phones, any other way.

But you can buy an unlocked cell phone even in the USA, and then sign up with the carrier of your choice. A friend of mine who works for a major cell phone service provider based on GSM [wikipedia.org] technology in the customer service inbound call center has told me that a fraction of a percent of customers are in fact monthly no-term customers using unlocked phones. They are trained not to offer such services, but do know how to sign people up if someone wants it. He also told me that it is a full price service that way, about as costly as a pre-paid phone.

You can find unlocked phones easily. For example at Amazon.Com, look at the left side of the home page under "Consumer Electronics" and click on that link. From that page of cell phones, on the left side find a whole subsection of links for unlocked phones. Be sure you get 850/1900 MHz phones for use in the USA and a few other countries in the Americas. If you want a phone good for international use, get a triband (850/1800/1900 for both USA bands) or quadband phone.

These phones are apparently overseas phones that may or may not come with a USA warranty. That's one of the problems in the USA is that the manufacturers are not selling directly to retailers here that I can find. It could help if we get wording added to this law change that requires the manufacturers to make their phones available to resellers that want to sell them a full price as no contract unlocked phones. Then people can have a choice.

Some other places to look for unlocked phones are here [cellular-blowout.com] , here [puremobile.com] , here [ustronics.com] , here [cellhut.com] , and here [cellularcountry.com] .

Interesting contradiction... (1)

argent (18001) | more than 7 years ago | (#20521233)

You start out saying that contracts shouldn't be banned, and then every point after the first (contracts make financing a new phone simpler) is a problem caused by the ubiquity of contracts or tricks they use to force you into a contract. Delete the first paragraph and the remaining points are all good arguments for banning long-term cellphone contracts.

Re:Why even that? (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 7 years ago | (#20521769)

I would say a better option is to require all phones to come unlocked and use sim cards. Even a customer that is happy in a long term contract may have good reason to want to use it on more than one account, for example, a work account on weekdays and put the personal simcard in on nights and weekends. A customer that wants the cheap or free phone is free to enter into a long-term contract to get it. Customers that want to keep their old phone are free to do so with the sim card. Carriers should be required to allow absolutely any phone that meets FCC requirements, no questions asked, just send the sim card.

A lot of carriers want to use locked phones so thay can nickel and dime you to death over feature activations that have nothing at all to do with using resources on their network.

Re:Why even that? (1)

MrCool80s (243383) | more than 7 years ago | (#20520135)

Agreed. But I don't believe legislation can really be introduced to prevent people from entering into 'reasonable' contracts. I could see it working if the bill if every change in the TOS/billing fees/policy required all customers be granted a new 30-day, penalty-free contract termination period--no matter what stage each respective customer is at in their contract. Including when you move up to a new contract to get some new feature such as more minutes.

Re:Why even that? (1)

InvalidError (771317) | more than 7 years ago | (#20520169)

If you want fancy phones not offered by your carrier, Nokia has a few retail stores in NA where you can get whatever you want and with GSM networks, the service provider never has to hear about it or approve it.

My current cell service provider offers free phones of comparable value to the sign-up model with each contract renewal - 1 year for low-end phone, 2 years for mid-range and 3 years for high-end. Open by-the-month contracts cost between $5 and $10 extra per month and you get neither subsidized phones nor free upgrades.

As for termination fees, they would have to abolish subsidized phones first since the termination fees (at least those my provider charges) are mostly meant to cover the subsidized part of the phones. (Last time I read one of their contracts, it was $20 per remaining contract month or $200, whichever is least - sounds fair enough to me.)

Since I do not use my cell phone much, I am sticking to prepaid: $10/month and I get all the services including extended network as a freebie... the same extras (CallerID, call-waiting, voice-mail, etc.) on my land-line would cost over $15/month. The cheapest cell contract with the same services (excluding extended network) would cost almost $40/month. The "trade-off" is I get 30 cummulative minutes/month instead of 150 use-'em-or-lose-'em minutes/month... can't say I feel like I'm losing anything since I can buy up to 200 minutes with the same $40 ($20/100min refills) if necessary.

Re:Why even that? (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 7 years ago | (#20520715)

30 min / month? Net10 service is $15/month minimum purchase and that gets you 150 minutes per month. on their web site you can get refurb phones dirt cheap as well.

Re:Why even that? (1)

koalapeck (1137045) | more than 7 years ago | (#20521249)

Here is the problem. If contracts are no longer allowed, or can be broken at any time, phones will of course cease to be discounted so heavily. The effect that'll have on a lot of consumers could be pretty substantial. A lot of people only have a cell phone because they were able to get it for $0 with a 3 year contract. A lot of people would have a hard time justifying a $400 phone purchase. What ends up happening is that the retailers and cell phone companies win in this situation, because their margins on equipment sales will increase by an order of magnitude. Consumers should have a choice between a discounted phone with a contract, or paying full price with no contract. That's the way it is currently, and it makes sense for the majority. I do feel they need to streamline everything and be more transparent about how people are charged and what sort of coverage they actually get. And that's what this bill is designed to address.

Re:Why even that? (1)

cyberwench (10225) | more than 7 years ago | (#20521513)

Honestly, I think if people didn't have the option of getting a free or heavily discounted phone, you'd see cell prices drop rapidly from $400 down to the $100-200 range. The discounts seem to be a lot like the "SALE!" signs you see in stores that advertise the original price as being suggested retail, when no one ever charges suggested retail.

Re:money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20519471)

Should there be legislation passed to ensure that you provide a reasonable level of service to your employer? I get the feeling that most on Slashdot would be outraged by such a proposal. Depending on your ability, you may be deemed unfit for the field, and be forced to drop out. This would suck a lot for those below the threshold, but be great for those above. They'd have more job offers than they would know what to do with. However, the businesses that are forced to pay the higher rates as a result may not be all too pleased either.

I'm frequently reminded that slashdot is not a community of business owners.

payoff money (1)

p51d007 (656414) | more than 7 years ago | (#20521185)

What this means, in simpler terms.......is that the cell phone carriers association hasn't been giving enough money to politicians, so, they will introduce a bill which could possibly threaten their stranglehold on the market. When the carrier association ponies up the money, watch how the bill will either get watered down, changed, or just simply disappear. After all, 08 is an election year. Watch all the "pro" consumer bills that will suddenly pop up, only to disappear and fade away early in 09.

Good! (4, Informative)

Phoenix Wright (1153585) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519043)

I think this is a great idea. I just moved back to the US from Japan. I actually never had a cell phone (gasp!) until I went to Japan. Now that I'm back, I'm looking for a local replacement.

So far, every plan I've seen is incomprehensible or misleading. Or both. As soon as I find a reasonable, understandable plan, I'll jump at it.

Still looking...

Re:Good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20519161)

As soon as I find a reasonable, understandable plan, I'll jump at it.

You mean like prepaid?

Re:Good! (1)

twistedcubic (577194) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519217)

I've used prepaid for a few years, and a regular contract for the prior three years. I'm back to a paid plan now with Cingular. It's overpriced at $51/month ($39.99 plan plus taxes), and has by far the worst reception in all parts of the USA where I've traveled, but the rollover minutes are compelling, especially for someone like myself who doesn't live on the phone, and my mother and gf both are on Cingular, so I talk to them for free. Prepaid is good too, if you don't live on the phone, but people do get annoyed when I refuse to add minutes and the phone is off (didn't mind it that much, really, but I had to get a regular line for other reasons).

Re:Good! (1)

Phoenix Wright (1153585) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519339)

I've been looking at prepaid for a while. It's probably what I'll eventually go with, since I will have a landline (not paid for by me). I won't be living on my mobile.

$51/month.... (whistles). In Japan I was on the White Plan. [softbank.jp] What is that now, $9/month? Less?

Re:Good! (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 7 years ago | (#20520455)

I looked around a bit and went with T-Mobile. If you can tolerate a bit of up-front cost, you can get a phone for about $80 (phone price + $35 activation fee) and spend $100 to get 1000 prepaid minutes that don't expire for a year (if you put less on there, the minutes expire in 3 months). I got a Motorola v195, which no longer appears on their site, but it's a quad-band GSM - so I could use it worldwide. And T-mobile will unlock a prepaid phone on request after 3 months of use. (I don't work for them, or know anybody who does - but it was a pretty good deal.)

Re:Good! (4, Interesting)

Seumas (6865) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519443)

I don't see what the big deal is with cell phone bills. They don't seem all that complex to me. The problems I've had with phone bills is six straight months where I had to spend hours each month on the phone, because they were double-billing me. Or the many months I had to deal with them where they kept adding services to my account that I specifically refused and asked not to have... and that they would add back again after I spent hours on the phone removing them. Or the two times they turned off my unlimited net access on my phone, causing me to rack up thousands of dollars in bills for what should have been a $20 unlimited fee.

None of these were due to the contract. These were all due to crappy business practices and nothing else.

There shouldn't be anything *deceiving* in a phone bill. I can certainly agree with that. But I don't see why they should be legally bound to make a phone bill read at a fifth grade level like the daily newspaper.

Re:Good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20520023)

Actually, I think it's a step towards curbing those crappy business practices. If people can understand what they're actually bound to, then they can successfully argue against the companies when they get screwed.

Re:Good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20520311)

I don't see what the big deal is with cell phone bills. They don't seem all that complex to me.
While I don't personally have difficulty understanding my mobile plan or bill, stories like this always remind me of something someone I used to work with once told me: He said when he worked as a management consultant for one of the Bells during the 90s, devising a multitude of plans that were confusing for consumers to understand the details of and moreover difficult for consumers to pick the best plan for their actual usage needs was a deliberate stratagem. It was plainly more profitable if consumers failed to pick the best plan for their needs. I don't know that legislation is necessary, but I can certainly appreciate the benefit of a standard specification for describing plans and bills across carriers: you could actually conduct meaningful machine comparisons.

A Good Point, Keep Going. (1, Insightful)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#20520663)

[plan slamming that cost days of life or thousands of dollars] These were all due to crappy business practices and nothing else.

So, simple plans will be of little use if the phone company, aka ATT, continues these kinds of practices. You might imagine a world where that kind of practice would lead to massive fines, class actions and the like to keep that from happening. Perhaps that's part of this bill?

I don't see why they should be legally bound to make a phone bill read at a fifth grade level like the daily newspaper.

An honest plan would work like that. There's no need for confusing bills, even at the rape you by the minute level of service people expect from Ma Bell. You should know what to expect when you sign the dotted line. Pretending your operating costs are taxes is really low, even for operators as corrupt as ATT.

All of the above changes are useless in a country that has crooked bandwith auctions, allows wholesale invasion of privacy and requires wiretapping. In the US, you are going to be raped for mobile communications and this "empowerment" bill does not address the root causes. It's nice of Klobuchar to notice people are angry, but the honorable Senator should do more. In this case, clarity will not really provide honesty, it will instead create a false and misleading controversy to be waged without resolution for years in the corporate controlled media. In short, it's a farce that provides the illusion of democratic regulation of an industry that is calling the shots in collusion with a corrupt government. Without privacy and freedom, the airwaves usurped by these companies are of limited business use.

Cell phones as a social rite of passage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20521161)

IMHO the idea that not having a cell phone is "weird" is part of what creates the problem of outrageous contracts and hidden fees. The companies can get away with it because people have convinced themselves that they cannot live without being reachable 24x7, naturally companies take advantage of this and make a killing off of people's lack of rational thought.


However...


The one thing that a cell phone is uniquely good for is for calling 9/11 in an emergency while on the road. For this purpose I have a phone (that I got for free) in my car trunk.

Advice Requested (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519059)

I'll be visiting the US from Canada soon and I have a pay-per-minute cell phone plan (I don't use enough minutes per month to justify a monthly plan). How bad are roaming charges in the US? I've heard nightmare stories of people getting billed ridiculous amounts of money per call when travelling. Is this just FUD or should I just turn the thing off until I need it?

Wrong crowd... (1)

Hamster Lover (558288) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519131)

Why are you directing your call to what I assume are American Slashdotters? You need to contact your carrier in Canada and ask them what the charges are when using your phone in the United States.

You mention that you are on a pay as you go plan. I looked up the various roaming charges while in the United States for you:

Rogers Pay as You Go and Fido pre-paid:

Calls Back to Canada from the U.S. $2.49 per minute
Calls within the U.S. while in the U.S. (local and long distance calls) $2.49 per minute
Incoming calls while in the U.S. $2.49 per minute
Received in the U.S. Free
Sent from the U.S. 40 per message

Telus Pay and Talk:

U.S. roaming not available.

Bell prepaid wireless:

$0.99/min long distance + $1.80 local call charge

So, in a word, it's not worth it.

Re:Wrong crowd... (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519185)

I did try to ask my provider (it's a major one), waited for too long for an answer (we're transferring you now.......CLICK), and gave up. Perhaps customer service is not a priority for those not paying monthly or maybe it was just a really busy day for CSRs. Then I called my ex-wife, who used to work for the cell phone company in question, and she told me to fuck off (I guess I should have expected that).

I was hoping for some feedback/personal experience from Canadians that have roamed in the US. There must be at least a few dozen Canucks reading Slashdot that could offer advice.

Re:Wrong crowd... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20519711)

Hamster Lover gave you the relevant prices. What more do you need? Generally speaking, roaming is too expensive unless you choose a plan specifically for low roaming costs. Better get a local prepaid SIM and put an away message on your mailbox with your "new" number.

Re:Wrong crowd... (1)

m.ducharme (1082683) | more than 7 years ago | (#20520011)

Actually, you need a bit more information. The prices GP quoted are probably for roaming on Partner networks only. If you roam to a network that isn't partnered up with your Canadian carrier, the roaming charges go waaaaaay up. Pay as you go is the worst, because they will often demand a credit card number before you can connect and roam. Turn the phone off within 25 miles of the border, and save yourself the hassle and money.

Re:Wrong crowd... (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 7 years ago | (#20520393)

Merci. It's not like I can't afford the extra cost, I just don't want to get screwed and encourage them. People need to start asking more questions about cell phone services and costs. I suspect that too many just accept what they're offered and I resent the liberties that the cell phone companies take.

I know it's Saturday AM, but now (I just tried three times) I'm getting bounced around from automated service to automated service only to find out that "our offices are open Mond...".

Why didn't they just say that in the first place and save some wear off my fingertips and patience? Oops, I forgot, they laid-off the actual humans, they were too expensive.

Re:Advice Requested (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519347)

Really and truly not trying to be a jerk, but wouldn't you try calling your service provider with those same questions to get an at least semi-accurate answer?

Disclaimer:
I do not use/own, or have in my presence a cell phone- I do not really know Jack about this subject, but was just curious.

Hhmm?...There are the 'buy some minutes' type solutions for most of the mainstream service providers...ie: AT&T, NetZero, Xingular, etc... at least in Oklahoma...If we have it, surely it is already thriving everywhere else. After all, we still have Cowboys and Indians out here!!!!

I don't normally go for Country music, but I do understand a lot of the sentiment behind Merle Haggard's "I'm Proud to Be an Okie From Muskogee" after transplanting here 18 years ago.

Re:Advice Requested (1)

m.ducharme (1082683) | more than 7 years ago | (#20520035)

Pay as you go service in Canada is very low-margin, and they've set up their phone systems so that you never, ever, talk to a human. I used to sell Rogers phones when I worked at Radio Shack a few years ago, and even when the dealer called to activate a Paygo phone, we never, ever, talked to a human. Only customers with contracts get human customer service.

Re:Advice Requested (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 7 years ago | (#20521707)

...at least in Oklahoma...

I hope to get to OK someday, we Canucks hear about these places but never visit them. Even though we know more about you than you know about us the US is still interesting. Stereotypes abound eh.

Re:Advice Requested (1)

Gnavpot (708731) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519427)

I'll be visiting the US from Canada soon and I have a pay-per-minute cell phone plan (I don't use enough minutes per month to justify a monthly plan). How bad are roaming charges in the US? I've heard nightmare stories of people getting billed ridiculous amounts of money per call when travelling. Is this just FUD or should I just turn the thing off until I need it?

I have no idea how it works in Canada/USA. But I can tell you that in Europe, you have to very careful if you have an answering service in your cell phone plan.

If you travel to a foreign country and then switches off the phone, all incoming calls from your home country will still be routed to the foreign country. Since the phone is switched off, the call will then be routed back to the answering service in your home country. And you have to pay foreign calls per minute for this (one or both ways, I don't remember).

I doubt the routing of the call works this way in reality, but on the phone bill it does.

Re:Advice Requested (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519567)

Which carrier is this? I've never heard of it or had it happen and I'd raise hell if one tried to pull it on me.

It doesn't even make sense - if your phone is off it isn't even on the network so there's nowhere for it to route.. the have no idea what country you're in.

Re:Advice Requested (2, Informative)

JackHoffman (1033824) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519737)

All providers do it that way. It only happens if you use conditional call diversion: You're in a foreign country, your cellphone rings and you don't answer it (or you reject the call or the phone is off), the call is diverted (back) to your mailbox, you pay roaming charges for "receiving" the call in the foreign country and for diverting the call back to your home country. Yes, it's a trap. It's particularly dangerous for people who live close to a border where the phone often switches to the foreign network based on reception strength.

Re:Advice Requested (1)

Gnavpot (708731) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519973)

It doesn't even make sense - if your phone is off it isn't even on the network so there's nowhere for it to route.. the have no idea what country you're in.

Of course it makes sense. Otherwise I would not have written it.

The phone will be "registered" to the network it was last connected to. So all calls go to that network, also when it is switched off.

Re:Advice Requested (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20519821)

You're probably better off buying that low-end Motorola phone with the eInk screen and a US PAYG SIM if you plan to talk for more than 20 hours on the phone in the states, to people in the states. Or buy a Nokia N800 and stick Skype on it, and call from coffee shops...

Re:Advice Requested (1)

cyberwench (10225) | more than 7 years ago | (#20521535)

Nightmarish. Make sure you read all the small print - usually if you dig enough you can find the full description of fees in the middle of some contract on their web site. If you've got a GSM phone, you can ask the carrier to unlock it for you and then just get a prepaid SIM in the US. It'll probably be much cheaper in the long run. Another thing to keep in mind is that if your phone is on and a call goes through to it - even if you don't answer it, you'll be charged for that call. That was a fun charge to figure out. =)

New Contract--Sample (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20519065)

The undersigned agrees to give the service provider as much money as demanded at any time up to and including selling dogs, cats, children, and/or spouse into slavery.

In the event that the cellphone causes the death of the undersigned, the service provider will be exempt from lawsuits and given permission to riffle through the pockets of the deceased for spare change.

30 days not enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20519073)

You need more than one billing period to know for sure.

m10

They need to ban locked phones like in some places (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20519087)

I've read about some countries that make "locked phones" -- phones which without modification can only be used with a single carrier -- illegal to put on the market. I think that is the right idea. Such vendor lock-in goes against capitalist principles, and is the other reason carriers have a strangle-hold on consumers in the US.

If the government wants to empower consumers in the cell phone marketplace, it'd let them do with their phones what they wish -- including switching carriers. Ban locked phones.

Re:They need to ban locked phones like in some pla (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519225)

hear hear! anyone who argues that the cell industry is a free market is either being paid, has no idea what a free market is, or is certifiably insane.

Re:They need to ban locked phones like in some pla (1)

Phoenix Wright (1153585) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519363)

It is nearly the definition of a free market.

What it is not is an efficient market (which is what I think you meant).

More regulation could make it more efficient, but less free.

You would be locking out ... (0, Troll)

Skapare (16644) | more than 7 years ago | (#20520113)

You would be locking out the poor from even getting a cell phone at all, since they can't afford to pay the full cost of a phone up front. You would be preventing an entire class of big businesses from exploiting them and keeping them poor. Then these people would have to find something else to do instead of chatting on the phone all day, like actually going to work and keeping their job.

Re:You would be locking out ... (1)

Xenogyst (1052270) | more than 7 years ago | (#20521261)

You would be locking out the poor from even getting a cell phone at all, since they can't afford to pay the full cost of a phone up front.

I work in the wireless retail business, and as far as I can understand the high prices of those phones are mostly a racket (phones tend to be around $200-350 without a contract). What I mean by that is if you look at some of the pre-paid phones you can get a fully featured camera phone with bluetooth for around $60-80 no contract. If you don't care about being fancy the cheap phones go for less than $20. There is simply no reason that phones need to be expensive like that; it's just a trap to keep people in contract.

In fact, there's no reason you can't use pre-paid phones on the post-paid networks. With GSM phones you can even put your contract phone SIMM card into a prepaid phone (assuming it's the same carrier) and it works the same, which is a nice trick if your GSM phone breaks and you don't qualify for the upgrade rebate.

It's about time (1)

jt2377 (933506) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519095)

I've t-mobile and it used to be you can enter for one year contract and renew it every year but now t-mobile require its customer to enter at least two years contract and if you want change plan or phone. the contract will get extended again for another two years.

Re:It's about time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20520041)

Actually, you can get a one-year contract from T-Mobile, but you have to ask for it.

You know what I want? (5, Interesting)

evanbd (210358) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519113)

I want a $39.95 plan to actually cost $39.95. As in, that's the number at the bottom of the bill that I have to pay each month.

I don't want to pay "regulatory surcharges" or "cost recovery fees" or anything else that isn't included in the advertised price. And this goes for all these sorts of contracts, not just cell phones.

Re:You know what I want? (1)

bwave (871010) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519669)

Easy, go prepay. I pay $30 a month to Verizon, $30 flat, no extra BS. Of course I call only VZ customers or nights weekends. I at most use about 8 minutes a month outside network peak hours @ 10cents a min. I don't understand these people I know with $69+ monthly bills, WTF are you talking to for 1200 minutes, that's 20 hours a month on the phone??!? I have friends that use 2400min and 400+ texts a month = CRAZY!

Re:You know what I want? (2)

frdmfghtr (603968) | more than 7 years ago | (#20520183)

WTF are you talking to for 1200 minutes, that's 20 hours a month on the phone??!?
I used to think that as well, until recently when I started burning over 1000 minutes per month, and don't consider myself a phone junkie. 1200 minutes per month is about 40 minutes per day; if your cellphone is your only line, your usage will add up fast, esp. if your family and friends don't use instant messaging.

Much like a nickel here and a dime there adds up to real money over time, cell phone use does the same thing.

Re:You know what I want? (0, Troll)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 7 years ago | (#20520571)

blame the governments, local, state, and federal, for this crap.

If they didn't have so many different ways to steal our money do you think Cellphone companies would have this sort of problem?

It is just like the junk fees we have with plane tickets. The flight is only "X" dollars - what the airline wants for the ticket, but you have to tack on taxes, some nearly double digit, landing fees, luggage fees, security fees, and anything else the locals can dream up (stadium fees anyone). Fees are just taxes with a different name but I don't see people bitching about the government, no they go off in their little brainwashed way blaming the corporations because the politicians vilify those entities with aplomb

Re:You know what I want? (3, Insightful)

csnydermvpsoft (596111) | more than 7 years ago | (#20520815)

"Fees" aren't the same as taxes. Think about what "regulatory cost recovery charge (as seen on my ATT Wireless bill)" means: the carrier incurred an extra expense to implement something required by the government (emergency service support, rural location service, etc.). Whether you like the regulations or not, the cell phone providers should include them in their base price - they're part of the cost of doing business, after all.

Re:You know what I want? (1)

AncientPC (951874) | more than 7 years ago | (#20521811)

Old billing system:

Monthly charge 39.95
x fee 2.00
y fee 1.00
Subtotal 42.95


New billing system:

Monthly charge 42.95
Subtotal 42.95


Yup, much better.

Novel Idea (3, Insightful)

eggman9713 (714915) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519139)

How many people actually read the contracts? I actually read my entire contract and understand it, and have nothing to complain about. People need to actually read and understand their current contracts beofre they can complain about them.

Re:Novel Idea (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519633)

The complaint is that no matter what service you pick, you have to sign a contract. Consumers have no choice (in America, not true in the UK), because EVERY company uses the exact same contract model. People don't read the contracts because they are all basically the same...x minutes...x data...blah blah blah...eight million dollars to cancel early...small print...blah...legalese....blah.

Hallelujah (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519167)

My coworker switched phone companies and didn't get a chance to try the new phone from home for the three days window they give you (can't remember why but he had a good reason). Guess what, it turns out he didn't have any service in his house, as in zero bars. He wrangled with them for weeks but in the end he had to pay cancellation fees.

That's the problem with the buyer beware libertarian crowd. What if the buyer is not a trained lawyer and does not understand every small print clause in every contract for everything he buys which is deliberately made as convoluted as possible? Is there any good reason why there shouldn't be some legal requirement for the seller to make it clear in plain english what the hell exactly are you getting for your money, not just in cell phone contracts but in general?

Re:Hallelujah (1)

bombastinator (812664) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519393)

One of the standard arguments against Libertarian philosophy, and especially that section of it embraced by many neo-conservative groups is that a lot of the time it ends up merely being an excuse for those who want to prey on the weak.

Re:Hallelujah (1)

Phoenix Wright (1153585) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519401)

That's the problem with the buyer beware libertarian crowd.

Fraud is against libertarian principles. "Buyer beware" is not a libertarian maxim. The situation you describe, the convoluted contracts and small print, is contrary to libertarian ideals.

Just fyi. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Hallelujah (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519667)

Actually, we are not talking about fraud here. Would a libertarian prosecute the phone company for fraud for writing some contract details in small font or in a complicated legalistic language? Are you going to tell me that government regulation of what can and cannot be written in a contract between two consenting parties is not directly contrary to libertarian ideals?

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against libertarian philosophy in principle but this case is just a small illustration of the practical problems.

Re:Hallelujah (1)

carpe.cervisiam (900585) | more than 7 years ago | (#20520925)

DISCLAIMER: I work for a cell phone company. I happen to agree with you that 3 days is too short of a time to cancel without early termination fees. The company I work for, who i will not name, offers three days with no fees whatsoever and you can cancel within 30 days for any reason and only be responsible for the actual usage and prorated monthly service charges. That seems pretty reasonable to me, try it and if you don't like the way it works return it and only pay for the service that you used. As far as early termination fees go, the only reason they exist is to recoup the subsidy on discounted phones. If Congress makes it illegal to charge an early termination fee, expect to pay a lot more for a new cell phone. The article talks about ETFs as being "budget-busters". The price difference between the full retail price and the discounted price of a phone with a new contract is usually greater than the amount of the ETF. For instance, the motorola v3xx with no service can be had from motorola's website for 289.99, the same phone from at&t's website is 99.99 with a two year contract. At&t charges a 175.00 ETF. You do the math.

Re:Hallelujah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20521223)

This isn't a case of libertarian philosophy, or buyer beware or anything else. It's a case of this man agreeing to buy a phone when the time wasn't right for him. The time limit could have been 1 year and there'd be an excuse to need more time (lost my hearing, global thermonuclear war, leprosy, etc, etc). Three days is plenty and if he had such pressing matters he could not check the phone in his house at that time (they would have to be seriously pressing before I'd even feel bad for the guy, pressing like a spouse/mother/father/son/daughter's death or being strapped to a hospital bed and not being allowed visitors--I can't think of anything else that would work for me) then he has to pay the dues. Even if those things happened to him, he still needs to pay, but he gets my sympathies.

Does a court feel bad for you if you find excuses for not paying your fines on time resulting in your license being suspended and you being hauled into a prison cell for the night? Fuck no. Neither do I. Why the hell should a company feel for you if a judge can't?

Re:Hallelujah (1)

glitch23 (557124) | more than 7 years ago | (#20521971)

My coworker switched phone companies and didn't get a chance to try the new phone from home for the three days window they give you (can't remember why but he had a good reason). Guess what, it turns out he didn't have any service in his house, as in zero bars. He wrangled with them for weeks but in the end he had to pay cancellation fees.

Something similar happened to my girlfriend (yes, girlfriend) when she moved a few months ago to take contract job with a local university. It was a research position in a very rural area of WV where there wasn't many cell towers. Verizon happened to be the only company who provided service to the area (and even that isn't great; she loses coverage halfway between work and her apartment) but she currently had CellularOne (recently acquired by AT&T). I called them on her behalf to find out whether she would have to pay cancellation fees and the person told me that if it isn't in her control as to why she doesn't have service then she can cancel and most likely not have to pay cancellation fees. I told her that moving to an area that was not served by them shouldn't be something that is considered to be in her control and therefore force her to pay extra if she doesn't want to use a service that she can't even use in the first place. The person I talked to said she wasn't in the department that makes those decisions so I couldn't get much more from her but I think in the end my girlfriend had to pay cancellation fees.

Hahaha... These americans... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20519219)

The Cell Phone Consumer Empowerment Act of 2007

The Cell Phone Consumer Empowerment Act of 2007

T C P C E A, motherfuckers ! ! ! !

I love you guys... :D (swipes tear from cheek)

this Is goats3x (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20519279)

DON'T BE AFRAID we get th3re with

hopefully (1)

spottedkangaroo (451692) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519413)

Hopefully this will make the contracts less attractive as a whole.

Seriously, can you think of any other service industry like this? power, cable, phone, trash pickup, isp, hosting provider, magazine subscription, ...

Sure, sometimes you'll see a special rate that only applies if you continue the service for a fixed period, but why is that you cannot get cell service at all without the contract? (Well, I suppose there are those shitty prepaid networks.)

Something is completely flawed with the whole setup. If they made it so people could get off shitty networks within 30 days, three things would happen: 1) all the services would have to do a better job, 2) all the rates would come down, 3) we'd all have to actually start paying for our $400 phones after they gave up on the whole contract model.

Re:hopefully (1)

TheAverageGuy (1124919) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519507)

but why is that you cannot get cell service at all without the contract?

As far as I know, AT&T [att.com] , Alltel [alltelu.com] , T-Mobile [t-mobile.com] , and Verizon Wireless [verizonwireless.com] offer cellular service without a contract.

In DC, an ACT always means the opposite (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20519423)

There's an old saying in D.C. that an "act" -The cellphone empowerment whatever whatever funny acronym ACT- usually means the opposite of whatever it claims in the title.

The Patriot Act took away things the patriots fought for, the tax freedom act put in more restraints and took away freedoms, and so on. If they had a "Save the babies act" it would probably involve NOT saving them. Seriously, it's THAT bad.

So when you hear about some new act, assume it's out to get you somehow and respond accordingly.

Re:In DC, an ACT always means the opposite (1)

bombastinator (812664) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519453)

Personally I mistrust this bill on the grounds of the lobby oriented track record of the current administration.

If (and I say if) it's actually a net gain for the people it is possible that it is a compromise bill and there is something very unpleasant coming down down the pipe.

This bill would allow a given representative when confronted in reelection with having voted for a particularly odious cell phone bill can then reply that he also voted for this one.

What have the cell phone companies been lobbying for most lately that the American public has most disliked? We may see it real soon now.

Re:In DC, an ACT always means the opposite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20519955)

This is just a shakedown. Apparently the political donations are not coming in like they used to from the phone companies so they threaten a bill like this.

Back when the Bells wanted into long distance the congress would go and pit the bells vs. AT&T and MCI and collect record donations and end up doing nothing.

Whenever you see anything like this all I can think of is shakedown. They are testing the waters to see if they have a new cash cow.

Re:In DC, an ACT always means the opposite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20519969)

That's ludicrous. This was introduced by a DEMOCRAT and a SENATOR. It has nothing to do, whatsoever, with the administration.

What prompted this legislation? (1)

BrianRagle (1016523) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519431)

I may sound cynical (though where the Congress is concerned, is that possible?), but how many here wonder whether or not a Congressman/woman or someone from his/her immediate family was recently jacked up on cell phone charges? Forgive me, but I am always somewhat suspicious when legislation is suddenly introduced to allegedly empower consumers given the amount of money it truly takes to lobby the Congress to get anything done these days.

crazy AT&T (1)

scolbert (1122737) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519521)

For the first time in years, I was "forced" to sign up for a new contract for my iPhone [personafile.com] with AT&T. I hated the idea, but I wanted my iPhone. Later my friend told me about the pre-pay option. He bought his iPhone and choose to pre-pay the account. No contract. He didn't (or couldn't) port his old number with this option (as guess what, he was still tied to his T-Mobile account! ironical.)

Regulate the Business (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519621)

Wake me up when I can have cell phone service like I had when I lived in England, otherwise, this is a bunch of posturing by politicians wanting to look hip. There are a few industries in America (telecomunications, cable television, for example) with such messed up business models, yet strong monopolistic locks, it just angers me to no end. Once business gets this far out of control (or actually IN control, but so much so, they are out of control) it is time to regulate. I don't mind lock-in, as long as I have the choice to NOT be locked in elsewhere. The problem now is, even if you go "elsewhere", you are locked in with them.

I have a feeling this bill will do the same thing for my cell phone servcie that the Digital Millenium Act has done for my "choice" of telecommunications/cable companies: nothing.

Nothing will become of this (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 7 years ago | (#20519919)

The telecommunications lobby in this country is huge and I guarrantee that the bill will be defeated. Anyway, as is prototypical of politics these days, the bill is only half-assed concieved. A contract usually implies a guarrantee of minimum service level. What about when the Sprint, ATT, and T-Mobile's of the worlds service works great for thirty days and all of a sudden quality drops off sharply? I am sure this has happened before. Shouldn't you have a right to kick the provider to the curb if this happens and they fail consistently to fix the problem? If you are paying for a service, shouldn't you have the right to recieve what you pay for? My guess, and correct me if I am wrong, that paying for a service and not recieving it is criminal. There needs to be a recourse for those who enter into a contract against abuses such as this. Well, at least there is an easy way to get out of a Sprint contract: call customer service 30 times a month for two months. Then, they'll fire you without termination fee!!

unnecessary government intervention (1)

tazochai (213288) | more than 7 years ago | (#20520003)

This is the kind of crap that annoys me about today's government, sticking their nose where it isn't needed. The economy and consumers can take care of themselves. Businesses only provide what consumers will buy.

Case in point, I got really mad at my last cell phone provider for many things listed in this security blanket of a bill. So I took care of myself, bought an unlocked phone, and went with a different cell phone company where I pay by the minute and do not have a contract.

We all have choices already. I've been a very happy cell phone customer ever since I've had no contract.

How about consumers stop being so complacent and stop giving your money to businesses and contracts that we don't want.

Government, get out of my life and get out of my choices.

Saudi Arabia , USA (1)

OJDot (1153641) | more than 7 years ago | (#20520039)

I've lived in Saudi Arabia and USA. moving back and forth on regular basis. I can safely say that we in Saudi are way behind in technology. the broadband service was just introduced few years back and it sucks (disconnection, etc) and the highest speed available speed is something about 1MB/S. you could find higher speeds but they'll cost a fortune. with that being said, I have to say that the cell phone service in USA is equally as retarded. In saudi we only have 2 providers, but the way they compete is beyond amazing. needless to say that all the phones sold are unlocked. and you're talking about the latest phones in the whole industry (Samsung, Nokia, Sony-Erickson, etc) and the Iphones have a long way to go to catch the latest phone from nokia N95. I dont want to go in details with comparing the phones here and there, but i hope you get the idea. well, now lets go to the core of this discussion, the phone service. here are some services i have from my cell phone provider in Saudi 1) Missed calls notifications. (if you turn your phone off (lets say battery!) and turn on back again, and you missed a call in between, you get a message notifying you with the numbers that called you along with the date/time of the call) 2) all received calls are FREE! 3) we pay per minutes used. 4) you could set a 'ceiling' for your bill and they'll will stop the outgoing calls once you reach it (you could change it instantly) 5) you could transfer all your contacts/pictures/videos to their servers, and retrieve it whenever. its helpful to make you get your life back easier if you happen to lose your phone someday. and there are many things i can't think off right now. i gotta go back to work!

What about the tax code? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20520985)

Wow, now all we need is a bill to clarify the tax code
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