Court Rules Against Gouging by Cell Phone Carriers
A judge has ruled that Ford Motor Company can no longer penalize you for trading in your Ford and buying a Chevy instead. And Safeway can’t make you pay a fine if you go across the street and shop at Albertsons.
Of course those two things never happened. But this is what cell phone companies have been doing for years. And a California judge has finally ruled against this legalized extortion. Sprint Nextel has to refund $18 million to its ex-customers who paid early termination fees. Sprint was also ordered NOT to try collecting $55 million worth of fines from their other ex-customers who refused to bend over and pay the termination fee.
A small step for common sense. Finally. The ruling came from Alameda County Superior Court Judge Bonnie Sabraw. Now that the first domino has fallen, other states will hopefully issue similar decisions.
These early termination fees are just a small part of what Bob Sullivan calls Gotcha Capitalism. Hidden fees and surcharges, booby traps hidden in the fine print on page 87 of a contract — what kind of cesspool have we sunk into? Capitalism used to be about merchants competing with each other to see who could sell the best product at the best price. Now it’s all about who can be the sleaziest douchebag of them all.
If these slippery practices are “capitalism,” then it’s also capitalism when a mechanic doesn’t do any work on your car, but tells you “OK, I rebuilt the carburetor, put in a new U-Joint and replaced all the fluids. That’ll be $1200.”
Sprint and other carriers are trying to get the FCC to come up with a federal mandate. An FCC ruling would override all state laws and invalidate all state court decisions. How convenient.
That’s funny, “States’ Rights!” used to be the conservatives’ favorite slogan. What happened?
cross-posted at Bring It On!