Thirty-Two Attorneys General Settle Claims Against Three Wireless Carriers
PIERRE, S.D. – Attorney General Larry Long announced today that he and Attorneys General from thirty-one additional states entered into settlements with three of the nation’s largest wireless telephone carriers, Verizon Wireless, Cingular Wireless, and Sprint PCS, which requires the carriers to provide coverage maps to consumers, gives consumers at least two weeks to terminate service contracts without incurring any penalties, and also changes the way these carriers advertise and sell their services and coverage.
Consumers may be familiar with the maps previously provided by wireless carriers which consisted of a map of the entire calling area, in some case, the entire United States, colored in. Carriers referred to these maps as “rate maps”, indicating where rates were available. Coverage was not necessarily available in the entire calling area or the entire United States, for a variety of reasons, including lack of cell towers, lack of roaming agreements, lack of capacity to accommodate all calls during certain high peak times, and physical obstructions, such as buildings, hills, and trees.
Verizon Wireless, Cingular Wireless, and Sprint PCS now will provide coverage maps to consumers that are as accurate as possible under current technology.
Also, these 3 carriers have agreed to provide new customers with a minimum of 14 days to try out their wireless service to make sure service is available where they need and want it. During the return period, new customers will be permitted to terminate their service contracts for any reason without paying the early termination fee provided for in the contract. In addition, these 3 carriers have agreed to provide a new return policy: new customers will be permitted to terminate their service contracts for any reason within 3 days without paying the early termination fee, plus the carrier will return any activation fee the consumer may have paid when he or she signed up for the service.
Other provisions of the agreement call for certain disclosures in the carriers’ advertisements and through their retail, Internet, and telemarketing sales channels.
The wireless carriers also agreed to pay a total of $5 million to the Attorneys General to cover the costs of the multistate inquiry and for general consumer education. South Dakota’s share of $5000 will go towards administrative costs.