Wireless carriers to make changes that will help consumers, says AG Cooper
Release date: 7/21/2004
Raleigh: Three of the nation’s largest wireless telephone carriers have agreed to change their sales practices to benefit consumers, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced today.
“Consumers deserve to have fair, accurate information when they’re making a purchase,” said Cooper. “These changes will help consumers make better choices and get better service.”
Cooper joined attorneys general from 31 other states in reaching settlements with three of the nation’s largest wireless telephone carriers, Verizon Wireless, Cingular Wireless, and Sprint PCS, to resolve allegations of misleading advertisements and unclear disclosures to customers. Under the agreements, the wireless carriers must provide consumers with better coverage maps and give new customers time to cancel contracts without paying penalties. The companies have also agreed to change the way they advertise and sell their services and coverage.
The wireless carriers included in today’s agreements are estimated to have more than 2 million North Carolina subscribers. Many consumers have complained to Cooper’s office about problems with their wireless service.
Verizon Wireless, Cingular Wireless, and Sprint PCS have previously given customers “rate maps” of a calling area that indicated where certain rates were available. In some cases, these maps showed all of the United States colored in, leading customers to believe that the carrier’s service would work anywhere in the country. However, coverage was not necessarily available in the entire area due to lack of cell towers, lack of roaming agreements, lack of capacity during peak times, and obstructions such as buildings, hills, and trees. Under today’s agreements, the companies will now provide coverage maps to consumers that are as accurate as possible.
In addition, the companies have agreed to give new customers at least two weeks to try out their wireless service to make sure it is available where they need and want it. During the return period, new customers will be able to cancel their service contracts for any reason without having to pay an early termination fee. If customers cancel within three days, the carrier will also reimburse any activation fee paid when signing up for the service.
Other provisions of the agreement call for better disclosures in the carriers’ advertisements and retail, Internet, and telemarketing sales practices. The changes are designed to give consumers comprehensive information about the costs and limits of wireless service.
States participating in today’s settlement include: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
NC Department of Justice � 9001 Mail Service Center Raleigh, NC 27699-9001 � (919) 716-6400