Cell phone bills are a tough pill to swallow each month, often reaching well into the hundreds-of-dollars range for families or even individuals. Regional and prepaid carriers offer some relief, but users who need nationwide coverage and a wide variety of handsets to choose from often have no choice but to pay a premium. According to documents recently obtained and published by the American Civil Liberties Union, consumers and business users aren’t the only ones overpaying wireless carriers for service. Read on for more. More →
AT&T is increasing the fee charged when subscribers upgrade to new handsets on contract beginning this Sunday. BGR has been informed by multiple readers via email that AT&T has sent them notices regarding the increased fee, which had previously been $18. “Because the overall costs associated with upgrading to a new device have increased, effective Sunday, February 12, 2012, AT&T will change its upgrade fee from $18 to $36,” AT&T said in a note to dealers obtained by BGR. An AT&T spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A portion of the memo follows below.
UPDATE: AT&T has confirmed the change. “Wireless devices today are more sophisticated than ever before. And because of that, the costs associated with upgrading to a new device have increased and is reflected in our new upgrade fee,” an AT&T spokesperson told BGR via email. “This fee isn’t unique to AT&T and this is the first time we’re changing it in nearly 10 years.” More →
Verizon Wireless on Friday announced that it is canceling plans to charge a $2 convenience fee to customers making one-time bill payments online or over the phone. The carrier announced earlier this week that the new fee would allow it to continue providing subscribers with the option to make one-time payments using its web-based and telephone payment systems. Following a rash of negative press and customer complaints, Verizon confirmed that it will scrap plans to introduce the new fee next month. “At Verizon, we take great care to listen to our customers, Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead said in a statement. “Based on their input, we believe the best path forward is to encourage customers to take advantage of the best and most efficient options, eliminating the need to institute the fee at this time.” The carrier’s full press release follows below. More →
Verizon Wireless will begin to roll out a new convenience fee on January 15th which will add an additional $2.00 fee to customers who make single bill payments online or by telephone. Verizon claims the fee will allow the company to continue to support these payment options, however the fee is waived for those who pay by electronic check or enroll in Verizon’s AutoPay service. Additionally, customers who pay their bills in the store, online through a bank, or physically mail a check to Verizon will be not be charged the new fee. The telephone and online single payment fee will be disclosed up-front and throughout the transaction, Verizon said. More →
A firm called Lodsys has been targeting Apple and Android developers that it believes are using its in-app purchase technology illegally. Despite Apple’s efforts to argue that its developers are covered under the same license, Lodsys doesn’t appear to be letting up anytime soon — it’s giving developers 21 days to cough up licensing fees before it files lawsuits. In a few recent blog posts, Lodsys explained its position on the matter:
[Apple's] letter was very surprising as Apple and Lodsys were in confidential discussions and there was clearly disagreement on the interpretation of the license terms of Apple’s agreement. Before, during and after these interactions, Lodsys has carefully considered this issue and consulted several legal experts to consider Apple’s claims. We stand firm and restate our previous position that it is the 3rd party Developers that are responsible for the infringement of Lodsys’ patents and they are responsible for securing the rights for their applications. Developers relying on Apple’s letter do so to their own detriment and are strongly urged to review Apple’s own developer agreements to determine the true extent of Apple’s responsibilities to them.
Lodsys is so confident that it has the upper hand in this legal battle that it’s offering developers $1,000 if courts rule that Apple’s license does, in fact, cover them. According to MacRumors, the developers currently being targeted include Combay, Iconfactory, Illusion Labs, Machael G. Karr, Quickoffice, Richard Shinderman, and Wulven Games. Google has yet to respond to Lodsys’ complaints against Android developers. More →
Last week, the FCC ruled in favor of AT&T in a complaint it filed against VoIP home-phone service provider magicJack. For those of you that don’t own a television, magicJack advertises — relentlessly, via infomercial — that its VoIP service will provide unlimited calls to the U.S. and Canada for just $19.95 per year. Users are instructed to plug the USB dongle (pictured above) into their computer, connect any touch-tone phone to the dongle’s opposite end, and start dialing. AT&T has, however, taken exception to one way in which the company generates revenue and keeps consumer costs down. The U.S. wireless carrier’s gripe stems from the fact that magicJack, through its subsidiary YMax, has been charging “call termination fees” when its customers make calls to AT&T customers or AT&T owned toll-free numbers. The FCC has rendered a decision, and found that magicJack is not entitled to these fees. “While the ruling applied specifically to Ma Bell, you would think other carriers would follow the ruling and stop paying those same fees to YMax, which as the FCC ruling notes generates basically all of its traffic from magicJack users,” writes Forbes‘ Eric Savitz. The company has yet to publicly comment on the government body’s ruling. In the meantime, hit the jump to check out one of those awesomely bad infomercials we mentioned More →
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 →
Well, here we go… We’ve received information on what WIND (Canada’s new wireless carrier) will offer, so without further ado, the WIND lineup:
- BlackBerry 9700
- Samsung Gravity 2
- HTC Maple
- Huawei U759
- Huawei E181 data stick
You might be wondering about what their rate plans will offer, and while we don’t have specific pricing yet, here are the features and what you can look forward to seeing in the “WIND Mobile experience”: More →
There have been rumors flying around the intertubes that Verizon is planning to charge an extra $15/month to allow your shiny new Motorola DROID to be hooked up to Microsoft’s Exchange email enviroment. Well, we are happy to confirm that, for consumer lines anyway, these rumors are false. The folks over at Gearlog received clarification from Verizon’s headquarters about the rumored $45/month data mandate, and it looks as though it’s for corporate responsible user accounts only. Individual accounts and family lines, whether you use Exchange or not, will still cost just $30/month. Good news for future DROID owners out there, and just the same as how the iPhone pricing works on AT&T.
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.
A day we thought would never come is upon us as the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, whose members include all of the major Canadian telcos and their subsidiaries (including all new entrants other than DAVE Wireless), have agreed to a code of conduct that benefits not themselves but their customers. Just like in the US, Canadians will now be able to walk away from their contracts penalty free if a carrier makes material changes to the terms of the contract. If the customer doesn’t wish to leave their carrier, he or she will have the option of staying on board at a grandfathered rate. Other new rules state that charges and contracts must be more clearly explained, privacy must be more fiercely protected (remember a few years ago when hundreds of pages of Rogers subscribers’ personal information were found in a dumpster?) and customer service must, well, be of service. All in all the new rules sound amazing, but only time will tell whether or not they actually have an impact on the Canadian wireless market.
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.