We’re not sure if we should blame U.S. wireless carrier Sprint for coming up with this idea, or Bell Canada for running with it. BGR has just obtained a memo that indicates Bell customers will have to fork over a $10 per month premium for access to the company’s HSPA+ wireless network. The memo seems to indicate that the first set of devices to succumb to this fate will be a “Turbo Stick” and “Turbo Hub”; the memo is vague enough (mentioning “high speed devices”) that it could include smartphones. This may be the unfortunate reality we’re all going to have to deal with as carriers go to 4G; or in this case “4G.” If you’re a Bell customer, feel free to sound off and let us know what you think.
A California appeals court has ruled that Verizon Wireless is to pay some 175,000 customers current and former customers $21 million as a settlement in a class action lawsuit over early termination fees. The class action suit was filed in California on the behalf of customers who were upset that Verizon asked they pay a flat ETF of $175 regardless of how many months were left on their contract. Each customer is expected to receive $87.50 as a result of the ruling. Too bad history is bound to repeat itself now that Verizon’s ETF for “advanced devices” (i.e. smartphones) is set at $350. More →
The FCC has taken notice of Verizon Wireless’ new $350 early termination fee that applies to all advanced devices purchased after November 15th, 2009. The governmental agency sent an inquiry letter to Verizon Wireless asking them answer several questions regarding this increased fee. The questionnaire focuses on Verizon Wireless’ disclosure of the ETF to customers and the rationale behind the increase. The FCC also does the math and calculates that a customer with a $350 ETF will still have $120 fee remaining after 23 months into a 24 month contract. It then asks the loaded question, “If the ETF is meant to recoup the wholesale cost of the phone over the life of the contract, why does a $120 ETF apply?” Verizon also gets hit up about the $1.99 fee it charges customers for inadvertently accessing the Mobile Web, and is asked to explain the terms and conditions of such access. Naughty, naughty Verizon has until December 17th to provide its answers.
Early last month we reported on a policy change at T-Mobile that we weren’t exactly happy with. In a nutshell, T-Mobile decided it would force its subscribers to enroll in paperless billing lest they wish to pay an additional fee for hard copies each month. While the move was somewhat admirable on an environmental level, we were far more concerned with the ramifications this new policy would have on those without the aptitude, or financial means or equipment necessary to make use of online billing (yes, there are many people who do not own a computer). We were pretty firm with our stance and it looks like we weren’t the only ones — T-Mobile announced today that it is reversing its decision on the matter:
Since the announcement we’ve heard everything from kudos to concerns about the move to paperless – especially from our customers who today are receiving paper bills at no charge.
So, we’ve decided to not charge our customers a paper bill fee for now. Instead, we’ll be taking more time to determine the fairest way possible to encourage people to go paperless.
Kudos, T-Mobile. As we said in our last post; if you want to encourage customers to go paperless, offer them an incentive to do so. There are a variety of reasons why a customer might choose to stick with paper billing and many of them are extremely valid. To penalize these customers with a fee is just plain wrong.
As fully immersed in technology as younger generations in the US are these days, we sometimes forget that there are still generations and demographics in this country who simply haven’t latched on to tech the way we have. The spunky bunch above who have gathered around a laptop to check out BGR simply aren’t representative of older generations and let us not forget the countless people in this country who cannot afford computers. The simple truth is that there are a magnitude of reasons why someone might not own, use or even know how to use a computer. Apparently however, T-Mobile thinks its poor and elderly postpaid subscribers should be penalized for being unwilling or unable to embrace a digital lifestyle.