Cell Phone Termination Fees: "A Lot of Money"

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Fort Dodge, IAKaren C. (not her real name) says she did everything that Sprint customer service representatives told her to do. She says she was even told that when she moved, she would not be charged an early termination fee. However, she was charged a fee of $1,000, and she says every time she phones Sprint, she speaks to a new customer service representative, who gives her different answers to her questions.

"We had Sprint for probably five or six years," Karen says. "We have four children in four states and needed a plan so that we could communicate with our children. So we got a five plan policy. For a while we had great service. The only thing that was changed over years was text messaging. Last spring our daughter racked up huge text messaging charges. She changed her plan to allow for unlimited text messaging.

Cell Phone Fees"We moved to Fort Dodge in September. Before that, when my husband was there, he took his phone to the house and to an apartment he was staying at. He had no service anywhere. So I phoned Sprint and spoke to a variety of people about the lack of service. Many customer service reps tried to convince me there was service. I went through two levels of supervisors. Finally, one of them worked out that there was no Sprint store in Fort Dodge. He told me that if you move somewhere with no service, there are no termination fees.

"He asked if I wanted to cancel service right away, but I was not moving yet and still needed my phone. When I had the new phone in my hands, and in my children's hands, then I would phone Sprint and tell them to disconnect my service. The Sprint representative told me that he would flag my account so that when I cancelled my service, I would not be charged a termination fee.

"So I waited and canceled the service. Then I got a bill for $1,000. They were charging me $200 per phone for canceling my contract. I phoned Sprint and was told there was nothing on my record to indicate it had been flagged. I decided to wait 24 hours and call again. This time, the girl accused me of lying and abusing the system because it had been a month since my last call. She was very rude and nasty to me.

"I called back the next day and again I had a different person. This girl said, 'You don't have service in Fort Dodge.' Apparently the new grid system showed that it did not work, so I was told to fax proof of change of residence to a specific number and I would not be charged an early termination fee. So I sent in the fax. Then, I received another bill for $1,000. I phoned them and asked if they received the fax and they said, 'What fax?'

"Again, I had to go through the whole thing. Sprint said I lived in an area with coverage. Then someone else said, 'You're right, you don't have coverage in Fort Dodge' and I was told to send the fax again. Again I did and again I received a bill.

"I'm done. I didn't want to pay the bill on principle, but the bank manager said, 'You have a perfect credit score, why mess it up now?' We were renegotiating our mortgage and that mark on our credit score would increase our mortgage. I talked to the collection agency and they told me to check for a class action lawsuit against Sprint.

"We had Sprint stock but we sold it because we were so mad. They accused me of lying and trying to manipulate the system. We did what Sprint told us to do. We checked with Sprint about the service in Fort Dodge before we moved. They told us there would not be an early termination fee when we canceled our service but still we were charged one. One thousand dollars is a lot of money."

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