Join 200,000+ other SprintUsers for free at the #1 online community for Sprint cell phone customers! Win cool prizes in our weekly contests. Talk about the newest phones or post your question in our forums! Become a premium member and get unlimited Focus Uploads to your Sprint phone.

All visitors must register before they can post questions, contact other members or search our database of over 127,000 threads and 1.7 million posts. So what are you waiting for? Register for free today!


Closed Thread
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 01-22-2008, 01:07 PM   #1
Studintx
Master of Mobiles
 
Studintx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 11, '04
Location: San Antonio, TX
Posts: 1,956
Phone: Touch Pro
Trades: 1
Thanks: 0
Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post
SU$: 24,851
Send a message via AIM to Studintx Send a message via MSN to Studintx Send a message via Yahoo to Studintx
Most Americans are in cell phone jail

At any given time, most Americans are in cell phone jail.

You know the feeling. You talk to a friend with a snazzy new handset that does amazing things. Or you see an advertisement for a great deal on a monthly plan. Then what do you do?

You sigh, wistfully wishing you could shop for a new phone. If you are really on top of things, you call your provider and ask when your current cell phone contract expires. And then you wait.

One thing you donít do: You donít act like a rational consumer in a normal, functioning market economy. You donít go buy the new phone, or get the cheap new plan. You donít reward the more efficient company with your business. You canít. Youíre in jail.

Imagine if you couldnít switch coffee shops or grocery stores without paying hundreds of dollars in penalties. Preposterous? No ó not in the world of cell phones.

From the start, wireless providers have worked hard to lock you up into losing situations, constructing walls with cancellation fees, service-specific phones, and the loss of your phone number.

Worse yet ó cell phone companies can, and do, change their side of the contract unilaterally. Consumers seemingly have no options to decline the higher prices. In other words, they can raise prices, and you canít quit. Consider this note of complaint, filed with the Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group by a consumer named Kerry:

Iím currently in the middle of a two-year contract with Verizon Wireless. They just notified me that they are dramatically increasing the charges I pay for receiving each text message from 2 cents to 10 cents.

When I called to complain, they left me with a few choices, and I was unhappy with all of them. I could simply accept the increase in charges. Alternatively, I could sign up for an unlimited text messaging plan for another $5/month, but only if I renew with Verizon for another two years. Or, I could end my contract and pay an early termination fee of $175.

If I donít pay the fee and change my plan to get the best rate for text messaging, then I'm locked in with Verizon for even longer than I originally would have been had they just kept the rates the same. And since the new plan also has an early termination fee, Iíll face the same problem if they decide, without my agreement, to change the plan again to suit their needs.

Make no mistake about it ó like Kerry, most cell phone users are captives. In 2005, IPSOS North America surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults and found that 47 percent would consider switching services if termination fees were eliminated. Fully 36 percent said fees already had forced them to stay in a higher-priced plan against their will.

This, it should be obvious, is economic lunacy. And it certainly explains why U.S. residents suffer from what is remarkably among the worldís least reliable cell phone services. After all, whatís the incentive to fix the U.S. network? NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, on his personal blog, mentioned wistfully once that he often enjoys ďcrystal clear, uninterruptedĒ cell phone conference calls to New York while on the road in faraway, ďmiddle of nowhereĒ places like the highway from Amman, Jordan to the Dead Sea. But on his daily commute into New York City? Thatís another matter. In fact, cross-country drivers on the main east-west highway in the northern U.S., Interstate 90, will find this sorry fact: they canít make a reliable phone call all the way from Chicago to Seattle.

Itís an embarrassment, but itís completely predictable. Captive consumers are bad for everyone, consumers and businesses alike. Why would anyone start a new cell phone company in this environment? Why would anyone invest in customer satisfaction?

Consumers have managed to tear down one wall in this jail. In 1996, the FCC ruled that consumers who switched providers didnít have to surrender their phone numbers, mandating whatís called number portability. Of course, it took nearly 8 years of legal battles to force wireless carriers to play along, but finally, in November 2003, consumers were allowed to switch carriers without switching numbers.

There was an immediate impact. About 367,000 consumers abandoned AT&T Wireless in the first quarter of 2004, an incredible number given that cell phone carriers were enjoying unprecedented subscriber growth at the time. Like dogs suddenly let off their leash, consumers began a mass exodus from the notoriously unreliable provider as soon as they could. The exodus eventually brought the company to its knees, and it was forced to sell out to Cingular. Competition works. Thatís capitalism. Bad companies donít deserve to be propped up by bad regulations or supportive government agencies.


The wireless providers who watched the demise of AT&T learned quickly; and the wall that was knocked down ó number portability ó was rebuilt even taller. In 2004, most carriers extended typical contracts from one year to two years. Nothing portable about that! By 2006, cell phone jail was more fortified than ever.

And in the ultimate irony, cell phone firms found a way to profit handsomely off number portability. Beginning about a year before portability kicked in, cell phone firms began charging roughly $1 per month per customer for number portability ó at one point collecting nearly $100 million per month, according to the Center for Public Integrity! The fees were hard to spot, often lumped into a line item called ďfederal recovery fee,Ē or something similar. Collectively, the industry took in more than $1 billion before the practice was curbed.


Terminating early termination fees
Bottom line: Firing your cell phone company will cost you $150-$200, at least. A family of four that wants to cancel service can pay $800 to do so.

The argument you will hear incessantly from mobile phone providers is this: Consumers pay far below cost to buy their cell phones because the price is subsidized by carriers and the termination fees are merely a means to recover some of that subsidy for consumers who bail early. Callers should be happy they can buy a cheap phone, and accept the consequences if they quit early.
__________________
That which hasn't killed ya has made you stronger (or stupider :-P )
Studintx is offline  
Old 01-22-2008, 01:07 PM   #2
Studintx
Master of Mobiles
 
Studintx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 11, '04
Location: San Antonio, TX
Posts: 1,956
Phone: Touch Pro
Trades: 1
Thanks: 0
Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post
SU$: 24,851
Send a message via AIM to Studintx Send a message via MSN to Studintx Send a message via Yahoo to Studintx
Of course, if that were true, the cancellation fee wouldnít be the same for consumers who quit after three months as it is for consumers who quit after 19 months. Verizon Wireless conceded this point in 2006 when it announced it would begin pro-rating early termination fees. Unfortunately, other carriers didnít follow suit.

Consumers who donít want to pay early termination fees do have options. They can use pre-paid, disposable cell phones, a small but growing part of the industry that doesnít require contracts with termination fees. Or they can pay full retail price for the phone upfront. They can try to pawn their phone and plan off on someone else (cell phone contracts allow transfers at places like CellTradeUSA.com). Or they can throw themselves on the mercy of a customer service representative. Having a good story to tell apparently helps. Internet Web sites are abuzz with hints on how to get a firm to waive the fee. The most common recommendation is to use a firmís coverage map to find a zip code that isnít covered, then call and claim to have moved there. Results to that one seem to be mixed; many providers require proof of address.

Another popular tip is to become an expensive customer. Start making calls outside of your cell phone firmís coverage area, which will force your provider to pay for time on another providerís network (weíre assuming here that you donít pay roaming charges). After a few months, youíll likely receive a polite letter strongly inviting you to find another cell phone company.

Once in a while, cell phone companies themselves open up a window of opportunity for early cancellation. In 2006, when most carriers upped their text message prices, they had to send new agreements to users. Some consumers used these as an opportunity to decline the agreement and attempt to void their current contract. Because a change in terms could be interpreted as a change in the contract, the change constitutes a termination of the original pact, the argument suggests. Cell phone firms fought back, but often relented, when consumers used this tactic.


A popular myth holds that lack of adequate service ó a poor signal at home, for example ó is enough to void your cell phone contract. This might seem crazed (doesnít the contract imply that the cell phone provider is bound to provide you with cell phone service for two years?), but thatís not true. Service quality is not part of the contract. Poor service gives consumers no right to cancel.

Dying, however, seems to work. Carriers will release you from your contract when you reach the great beyond. Only a few carriers require copies of death certificates to prove youíre dead. Others will take your word for it.


Picking your phoneís locks
Termination fees are not the providersí only trick to win forced loyalty, however. In fact, they have become a bit of a red herring in the cell phone jail debate. With monthly bills creeping up towards $100, a $175 cancellation fee doesnít sound so bad. Increasingly, cell phone jail is much more a function of hardware than contracts. Paying a $175 fee is one thing; throwing out fairly new $500 handset is quite another.

Isnít it amazing what phones can do today? They can pull up Web pages in a moving car. Take pictures and videos. Schedule appointments. Even give directions. Itís a wonder these smart phones canít be used to make dinner or launch rockets. And yet, there is one thing these technological marvels canít do. They canít work with anyone elseís network.

A T-Mobile phone usually wonít work on Cingularís network. Verizon phones wonít work on either of those networks. The lack of interoperability might remind old-time techies of the days before the Internet, when youíd never imagine trying to make an Apple computer talk to a Microsoft-powered PC. That language barrier is a relic now. How can these incredibly sophisticated cell phones be so unsophisticated in this one way?

Well, itís intentional. Cell phones are locked down by cellular providers with special software that prevents them from being used on other networks. In this realm, there isnít even a pretense by cell phone providers about their intentions. The software is called ďlockingĒ software. With consumers now paying $500 or more for these not-so-smart-after-all smart phones, locking software is the best tool yet cell phone companies have invented to lock up consumers. Even after a consumerís contract has run out, even after a consumer finds a competitor with a much cheaper per-minute plan, or much more reliable coverage, phone locks are still a major deterrent. You have to swallow hard to throw a fully functional $500 phone into the trash.

With that kind of money at stake, clever engineers (hackers! But good hackers!) have jumped in and worked up a work-around. There are ways to trick phones into ignoring the unlocking software. Internet sites sell such services for as little as $5.

Naturally, cell phone providers have spent a lot of time and killed a lot of trees trying to argue that use of unlocking tricks is illegal. Specifically, their lawyers have argued that unlocking software violates of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which was designed to keep thieves from circumventing software used to prevent pirating of movie DVDs, music CDs, and software.

Letís look at this argument more closely. According to the industry, you paid $500 for a phone, but youíre not allowed to type in a small string of characters into the handset which allows you to use the phone as you wish.


Jennifer Granick, a high-profile lawyer based at Stanford University who often defends computer hackers, took on this argument in 2006. She suggested that courts had already rejected a similar argument from computer printer maker Lexmark, which fought to stop generic ink cartridges from working in its printers. Courts had also ruled in favor of generic garage door opener makers.

In late 2006, the federal government sided with Granick, deciding that unlocking a phone was not a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. By then, some companies were already starting to give in and give unlock codes to consumers who were clever enough to ask for them. Others firms were still stingy about it, but couldnít prevent would-be unlockers from buying the software. Consumer advocates claimed victory. So did environmentalists, who saw new hope that fully-functioning phones wouldnít end up in landfills quite so often, as they could now be re-sold and re-used. Many hoped that cell phones had been set free.

Not quite. The phones, as sold, are still hamstrung with locking software by default. Only those who know enough to ask ever consider using their phones on a competitorís network. Despite the fanfare surrounding Granickís case in techie circles, the vast majority of Americans still think cell hardware is limited to use with a single carrier. But now you know better. From Gotcha to Got Them!
__________________
That which hasn't killed ya has made you stronger (or stupider :-P )
Studintx is offline  
Old 01-23-2008, 09:38 AM   #3
Cheatachu72
Liability
 
Cheatachu72's Avatar
 
Mood: Lurking
Join Date: Dec 16, '03
Location: Wis-con-sin
Posts: 2,341
Phone: pbr
Trades: 23
Thanks: 2
Thanked 9 Times in 7 Posts
My Mood: Lurking
SU$: 14,032
did you write this or did you plagarize this from somewhere?

care to cite your source, or are you going to take credit for somebody else's work?

...Bob Sullivan, MSNBC might not like you stealing is work
__________________
sanyo 8100>sanyo 5500>samsung i330>sanyo 5500>nokia 6016>sanyo 5400>sanyo 5600>samsung a900>samsung a900m>sanyo 8300>UpStage>sanyo 8300>lucky-goldstar fusic>lucky-goldstar muziq>htc mogu>sammy m610>htc touch>Palm Pre>Lucky-Goldstar Optimus Prime
Currently: Content with an Optimus S
Cheatachu72 is offline  
Old 01-23-2008, 01:51 PM   #4
wearmaize
Formally known as Mr.me2
 
wearmaize's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 22, '07
Location: Michigan
Posts: 274
Phone: Razr v3m
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
SU$: 662
Send a message via AIM to wearmaize
A nice, long read. Paying to stop paying? It makes no sense and should not be legal.

Thank you for posting it.
__________________
Jailbroken 16 gb ipod touch on 1.1.1 Need a guide? PM me.

Props for the avatar go to ccalvinn.
wearmaize is offline  
Old 01-23-2008, 02:03 PM   #5
Wayne 1
Cellular Phone User
 
Wayne 1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 9, '06
Location: OK
Posts: 5,834
Phone: Sanyo
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
SU$: 18,654
I went for years without a contract. It took Sero to pull me back into one. Next time (soon) my contract is up for renewal I may let it expire without renewing, again!
__________________
Sero 500 with 7PM nights, Sprint to Home and 680 re-occuring bonus minutes forever for a total of 1,180 anytime minutes!
In addition Sprint land line Long Distance with 50 monthly minutes free.
$30. plus tax total!
Wayne 1 is offline  
Old 01-23-2008, 02:21 PM   #6
Studintx
Master of Mobiles
 
Studintx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 11, '04
Location: San Antonio, TX
Posts: 1,956
Phone: Touch Pro
Trades: 1
Thanks: 0
Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post
SU$: 24,851
Send a message via AIM to Studintx Send a message via MSN to Studintx Send a message via Yahoo to Studintx
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheatachu72 View Post
did you write this or did you plagarize this from somewhere?

care to cite your source, or are you going to take credit for somebody else's work?

...Bob Sullivan, MSNBC might not like you stealing is work
First of all we are not in English class so cite my source? Have you read most of the articles in here most of them do not list the source. I think we are grown up enough to know where we can find the original source if we wanted or ask the OP for it I would have gladly given my source, I have in the past when asked where I got it from...

Second: where do I take credit for the article did I put my name anywhere in it??

Loosen the collar bub, this forum is for reaction on the article itself.
__________________
That which hasn't killed ya has made you stronger (or stupider :-P )
Studintx is offline  
Old 01-23-2008, 07:26 PM   #7
Guest
 
BrettW's Avatar
 
Posts: n/a
SU$: 0
#10 Copyrighted material is ineligible for inclusion on our board unless the source is clearly stated and verified, preferably with a corresponding link to the original work.

http://www.sprintusers.com/guidelines/

cite your source or ill close the thread, mmk.
 
Old 01-23-2008, 07:33 PM   #8
Wayne 1
Cellular Phone User
 
Wayne 1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 9, '06
Location: OK
Posts: 5,834
Phone: Sanyo
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
SU$: 18,654
Congrats Brett on getting a moderator job!
__________________
Sero 500 with 7PM nights, Sprint to Home and 680 re-occuring bonus minutes forever for a total of 1,180 anytime minutes!
In addition Sprint land line Long Distance with 50 monthly minutes free.
$30. plus tax total!
Wayne 1 is offline  
Old 01-24-2008, 09:15 AM   #9
Studintx
Master of Mobiles
 
Studintx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 11, '04
Location: San Antonio, TX
Posts: 1,956
Phone: Touch Pro
Trades: 1
Thanks: 0
Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post
SU$: 24,851
Send a message via AIM to Studintx Send a message via MSN to Studintx Send a message via Yahoo to Studintx
Final Point: Google's Definition of plagiarism - stealing someone else's ideas and presenting them as your own.

I NEVER passed this article as my own, so do a bit of research before making false accusations next time

Source Cited: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22342054/

CASE CLOSED
__________________
That which hasn't killed ya has made you stronger (or stupider :-P )
Studintx is offline  
Old 01-24-2008, 11:07 AM   #10
Matt
No H8
 
Matt's Avatar
 
Mood: none
Join Date: Oct 25, '03
Location: Portland, Oregon
Posts: 28,707
Phone: Galaxy S8
Trades: 5
Thanks: 318
Thanked 541 Times in 436 Posts
SU$: 80,383
Thread closed too. Maybe it can be started in the future with much less attitude and with full regard to the forum guidelines. Plagiarism or not, the forum guidelines we have here are clear.

Since posting news is kind of your thing Stud, I'm going to hope this wont be an issue in the future.
Matt is offline  
Go Back SprintUsers.com > The SU Lounge > The Tech News Desk > Most Americans are in cell phone jail

Closed Thread

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Phone recommendations... annieb727 Rants, Debates, & Farewells - All Carriers 1 12-23-2007 11:16 AM
link to cell phone systems hohlraum Gadgets & Gaming 2 10-25-2007 09:13 AM
Myspace to launch ad-supported cell phone... SLME Watercooler 19 09-29-2007 01:52 AM


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 02:50 AM.


- SprintUsers.com is not affiliated with or endorsed by Sprint PCS -