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  • legality of cell phone agreement

    I have a Sprint PCS phone of which I'm six months into a 2 year
    contract. I bought the phone when I lived in NYC and it worked fine.
    Now I'm living in Indiana and Michigan and there is little or no
    service where I am.

    I tried to cancel but Sprint won't let me out of the contract (and will
    continue billing me) unless I pay a $150 cancellation fee even though
    the contract is for "service" which I am not getting.

    Should I:

    a) Write them a letter with my final payment (without the concellation
    fee) informing them of the situation and letting them know I consider
    the matter closed. Will they continue billing me and refer me to a
    collection agency?

    b) Pay the cancellation fee and then sue in small claims because Sprint
    broke the contract by failing to provide service? I bought the phone in
    NYC so can I file in Indiana?

    c) Give up and go along with the Sprint way of doing business.

    Frustrated.


  • #2
    legality of cell phone agreement


    [email protected] wrote:
    I have a Sprint PCS phone of which I'm six months into a 2 year contract. I bought the phone when I lived in NYC and it worked fine. Now I'm living in Indiana and Michigan and there is little or no service where I am.
    I am reasonably confident you don't have a case. There is no
    "guarantee" of service (I quibbled over this word with Cingular a few
    years ago).

    It's not Sprint's responsibility that you moved.

    Comment


    • #3
      legality of cell phone agreement

      <[email protected]> wrote in message
      news:[email protected]
      I have a Sprint PCS phone of which I'm six months into a 2 year contract. I bought the phone when I lived in NYC and it worked fine. Now I'm living in Indiana and Michigan and there is little or no service where I am. I tried to cancel but Sprint won't let me out of the contract (and will continue billing me) unless I pay a $150 cancellation fee even though the contract is for "service" which I am not getting. Should I: a) Write them a letter with my final payment (without the concellation fee) informing them of the situation and letting them know I consider the matter closed. Will they continue billing me and refer me to a collection agency? b) Pay the cancellation fee and then sue in small claims because Sprint broke the contract by failing to provide service? I bought the phone in NYC so can I file in Indiana? c) Give up and go along with the Sprint way of doing business. Frustrated.
      You should do (c).

      When you signed the agreement you received a phone for free (or for a
      nominal charge) that was probably worth about $125. In addition there were
      administrative, marketing, and sales fees that Sprint incurred to sign you
      up as a customer. That is why there is a cancellation charge. Further, you
      agreed to the cancellation charge in writing.

      Next time, you can purchase your own phone and get a contract that can be
      cancelled at any time (although the monthly or per minute fees may be
      higher).

      However, you might see if the have Nextel service were you now live. Since
      Sprint and Nextel have merged, they may be willing to transfer your contract
      to Nextel (but this would require you purchasing a new phone or signing a
      new long term contract).


      Comment


      • #4
        legality of cell phone agreement

        In article <[email protected]>,
        [email protected] <[email protected]> wrote:
        I have a Sprint PCS phone of which I'm six months into a 2 yearcontract. I bought the phone when I lived in NYC and it worked fine.Now I'm living in Indiana and Michigan and there is little or noservice where I am.
        Did your _New_York_ contract promise you service in Indiana or Michigan?
        I tried to cancel but Sprint won't let me out of the contract (and willcontinue billing me) unless I pay a $150 cancellation fee even thoughthe contract is for "service" which I am not getting.
        Would your phone still work in New York?

        *WHOSE* 'fault' is it that you are not getting 'service'.
        *WHO* changed the conditions under which the phone is being used?
        Should I:a) Write them a letter with my final payment (without the concellationfee) informing them of the situation and letting them know I considerthe matter closed. Will they continue billing me and refer me to acollection agency?
        Undoubtedly, you could do this. However, because _you_ consider the
        matter "closed" does *not* require them to regard it in the same way.
        A collection agency action _is_ likely. And 'negative' data on your
        credit report.
        b) Pay the cancellation fee and then sue in small claims because Sprintbroke the contract by failing to provide service? I bought the phone inNYC so can I file in Indiana?
        I ask again, *who* changed the conditions under which the phone was being
        used?

        What makes you think you have *ANY* chance of winning -- when *you* are
        the party who made the changes that caused the service to break?

        Again, you _can_ go this route. I hope the trial judge doesn't have a
        heart attack from the uncontrollable laughter as he reads your filing.

        *If* you do make the attempt, be prepared for a counter-suit, for the
        legal expenses, etc., incurred by Sprint in (successfully) defending
        themselves against your allegations.
        c) Give up and go along with the Sprint way of doing business.
        Did you _read_ the contract you signed, *before* signing it?

        _ALL_ the 'fine print'? (if not, _why_ not??)

        Did it promise you 'service' anywhere other than the local area in which you
        bought service?

        Why do you think you're 'entitled' to something that they did *not* agree
        to provide in the contract they signed?

        Regard this as a 'lesson' about the way _you_ have been 'doing business'.
        Frustrated.
        "Learn from the experience" applies.

        As does: "the School of Hard Knocks is the worlds best teacher, but the
        tuition _does_ come high." All things considered, you got off _cheap_.




        Comment


        • #5
          legality of cell phone agreement

          Robert Bonomi wrote:
          Did your _New_York_ contract promise you service in Indiana or Michigan?
          The sales rep promised me nationwide service. I told him I would be
          relocating to a different state. I even paid extra for "no roaming"
          charges.
          Did you _read_ the contract you signed, *before* signing it?
          Yes, but it was very long and convoluted. I confess I didn't really
          understand it but I do know it was a contract for "service". It clearly
          says that.
          Why do you think you're 'entitled' to something that they did *not* agree to provide in the contract they >signed?
          I think its pretty obvious I was signing for "service". That's all I
          want. I paid $599 for the phone (Treo 650) and have given them over
          $1000 in the last 12 months for phone service plus unlimited Internet
          access.
          Regard this as a 'lesson' about the way _you_ have been 'doing business'.
          Exactly.

          Comment


          • #6
            legality of cell phone agreement

            <[email protected]> wrote in message
            news:[email protected]
            Robert Bonomi wrote:
            Did your _New_York_ contract promise you service in Indiana or Michigan?
            The sales rep promised me nationwide service. I told him I would be relocating to a different state. I even paid extra for "no roaming" charges.
            Sprint does have nationwide service, but they don't guarantee service every
            small city. Even within larger cities, almost all providers have some dead
            spots where service is not up to par.


            Comment


            • #7
              legality of cell phone agreement

              "[email protected]" <[email protected]> wrote:
              Robert Bonomi wrote:
              Did your _New_York_ contract promise you service in Indiana orMichigan?
              The sales rep promised me nationwide service. I told him I would be relocating to a different state. I even paid extra for "no roaming" charges.
              If you told him you were relocating, particularly if you told him
              where you were going and he still assured you the service would work,
              you've got a good case for breach of express warranty, and could
              justify rescinding the contract on that basis.

              Stu

              Comment


              • #8
                legality of cell phone agreement

                In article <[email protected]>,
                [email protected] <[email protected]> wrote:
                Robert Bonomi wrote:
                Did your _New_York_ contract promise you service in Indiana or Michigan?
                The sales rep promised me nationwide service. I told him I would berelocating to a different state. I even paid extra for "no roaming"charges.
                I'll bet you the proverbial 'dollars to donuts' that the clause in the
                contract for 'nationwide service' said something about 'on our network'.
                Did you _read_ the contract you signed, *before* signing it?
                Yes, but it was very long and convoluted. I confess I didn't reallyunderstand it but I do know it was a contract for "service". It clearlysays that.
                I see. You "didn't understand it", but you signed a legally binding document
                committing you to pay thousands of dollars, anyway.

                {{ insert numerous "Foghorn Leghorn" audio clips }}
                Why do you think you're 'entitled' to something that they did *not*
                agree to provide in the contract they >signed?I think its pretty obvious I was signing for "service". That's all Iwant.
                You *are* getting everything your contract provides for. Nation-wide service
                _on_their_network_. Anywhere their network reaches, you can use your
                phone for the base rate. Go somewhere their service doesn't reach, and your
                phone doesn't work -- this is -expected- behavior. _Move_ somewhere their
                service doesn't reach, and you have no basis for complaint against _them_.

                The fact =you= moved to somewhere their network *does*not*reach* is not
                _their_ problem.

                They *are* still providing everything they contracted to provide. Whether
                or not you make use of their services, for *whatever* reason, you are still
                obligated, by the terms of the contract you *signed*, to pay for those
                services.
                I paid $599 for the phone (Treo 650) and have given them over$1000 in the last 12 months for phone service plus unlimited Internetaccess.
                And this is, in what way, relevant to your decision to move to an area where
                e their network doesn't reach? WHILE you had a continuing commitment to pay
                for service on their network.
                Regard this as a 'lesson' about the way _you_ have been 'doing business'.
                Exactly.
                *NEVER* sign something you "don't understand".

                If you _know_ you are going to be moving to a specific locale during the term
                of your contract, *ask* about =THAT=LOCALE= before making that long-term
                commitment.

                If you simply "assume", *without*verifying*, and there is _any_ sort of
                clause in the contract that does not compel performance, you *WILL* be
                'unpleasantly surprised'. And you will *not* have any recourse therefrom.
                You *will* still be committed to pay for what you 'bought'. Even if you
                are 'unable' to make use of that which you bought.


                "Learn from the experience". All things considered, you got off *dirt*
                *cheap* for this 'educational experience'.





                Comment


                • #9
                  legality of cell phone agreement

                  Robert Bonomi wrote:
                  *NEVER* sign something you "don't understand".
                  This is becoming more difficult to do. I have a college degree from UC
                  Berkeley and 10 years experience as a programmer and even I have
                  trouble reading all the convoluted legalese of phone contracts, bank
                  accounts, and the likes.

                  There's a theory that these contracts are deliberately obfuscated using
                  neat tricks like multiple dependent clauses, statements that use terms
                  that loop back to other definitions, overly long sentences, and a lot
                  of other bull**** as a way of hiding conditions a customer would
                  otherwise be hesitant to sign.

                  Anyway, it the sales rep verbally assured him of service, isn't that a
                  legally binding?

                  Ed.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    legality of cell phone agreement


                    Robert Bonomi wrote:
                    In article <[email protected]>, [email protected] <[email protected]> wrote:
                    I have a Sprint PCS phone of which I'm six months into a 2 yearcontract. I bought the phone when I lived in NYC and it worked fine.Now I'm living in Indiana and Michigan and there is little or noservice where I am.
                    Did your _New_York_ contract promise you service in Indiana or Michigan?
                    Possibly.

                    I tried the Sprint 'PCS' cellphone service a while back. The salesman
                    showed me a 'coverage' map that was a picture of the entire United
                    States with all of the states colored in to indicate service. I asked
                    him if the phone required line-of sight to a tower, he said no. I
                    asked him if the phone would work out in the desert hundreds of miles
                    from anything he said yes. I asked him if it would work in valleys in
                    West
                    VIrginia and in tunnels, he said yes. I asked him how it could work
                    somewhere if rf coudn't reach the phone. He said it didn't use rf,
                    it used 'PCS packets'. I asked him to call a Sprint representative
                    who then answered my questions about coverage in the areas where
                    I was interested. I then asked that Sprint representative to repeat
                    that information for the salesman. I bet the salesman spewed the
                    same lies for the next customer with questions.

                    OB legal:

                    If I had relied on what the saleman told me, would I have
                    a case for fraud? E.g. the contract did not guarantee
                    coverage but the salesman did .

                    Does it make any difference that I knew he was lying?

                    If the _only_ contract was an oral contract, would it make any
                    difference that I knew he was lying?

                    --

                    FF

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      legality of cell phone agreement

                      [email protected] wrote:
                      There's a theory that these contracts are deliberately obfuscated using neat tricks like multiple dependent clauses, statements that use terms that loop back to other definitions, overly long sentences, and a lot of other bull**** as a way of hiding conditions a customer would otherwise be hesitant to sign.
                      I don't know that it's necessarily intentional, but it certainly is
                      lazy.
                      Anyway, it the sales rep verbally assured him of service, isn't that a legally binding?
                      Hard to say. Ask him to put it in writing.

                      Stu

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        legality of cell phone agreement

                        [email protected] wrote:
                        If I had relied on what the saleman told me, would I have a case for fraud? E.g. the contract did not guarantee coverage but the salesman did .
                        Not necessarily. But you'd certainly have a good cause for breach of
                        express warranty.
                        Does it make any difference that I knew he was lying?
                        Yes. If you didn't believe there would be coverage where you moved,
                        you can't really complain that there is no coverage where you moved.

                        Stu

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          legality of cell phone agreement

                          In article <[email protected]>,
                          <[email protected]> wrote:
                          Robert Bonomi wrote:
                          *NEVER* sign something you "don't understand".
                          This is becoming more difficult to do. I have a college degree from UCBerkeley and 10 years experience as a programmer and even I havetrouble reading all the convoluted legalese of phone contracts, bankaccounts, and the likes.
                          "Difficult" or not, the advice stands. If you can't figure out what
                          the language means, hire a professional to explain it to you in 'simple
                          words'.
                          There's a theory that these contracts are deliberately obfuscated usingneat tricks like multiple dependent clauses, statements that use termsthat loop back to other definitions, overly long sentences, and a lotof other bull**** as a way of hiding conditions a customer wouldotherwise be hesitant to sign.
                          All the more reason to read and *UNDERSTAND* the entire thing before
                          signing.

                          Usually, however, those 'bull****' things you mention are simply _necessary_,
                          to 'precisely define, in the established legal manner' the particular
                          relationship between conditional events named.

                          Although I will note that I have never been faced with a contract for
                          _my_ signature that I had any difficulty understanding.
                          Anyway, it the sales rep verbally assured him of service, isn't that alegally binding?
                          *MAYBE*, but 'probably not'. For any of several reasons. To wit:

                          First, if the OP didn't ask about the _specific_locale_ he ended up moving
                          to, there is no 'violation' of the assurance. He -has- 'nation wide service
                          on the ______{insert brand-name here} network', as promised. Unless the
                          specific locale was mentioned, the original salesman has no way of knowing
                          whether or not the cellular provider _has_ 'network access' in that area.

                          Note: since the OP does not have the attention-to-detail skills to follow
                          the basic contract he was presented with, one cannot assume that the
                          reportage of the salesman's statements are what the salesman _actually_
                          said, vs. what he 'thought' the salesman said.


                          Secondly, I'll bet (again, the proverbial dollars to donuts) that the
                          contract he didn't read contained language stating that the written
                          contract was the 'totality of the agreement between the parties' and
                          'superseded any prior agreements "verbal or written"', and that the
                          contract language included a clause that it was NOT modifiable by
                          anyone except at the home office.

                          Now, _if_ the salesman actually _lied_ about the matter -- promising service
                          in an area where {insert brand-name here} service was not available, then
                          there is possible cause for action ('detrimental reliance', among others)
                          for action against the salesman, *personally*.

                          But, the cell company _cannot_ be held liable for the actions of the sales
                          rep -- *WHEN* those actions are *outside* the scope of the 'agency' under
                          which that sales rep is acting. When the contract document expressly defines
                          the limits of the agency relationship, then anyone who _does_ 'rely' on
                          the statements of the rep -- that go beyond the bounds of the 'agency' -- it
                          is *not* hard to argue that that person 'knew, or *should*have*known*, that
                          the agent's representations were not to be relied on.



                          Comment


                          • #14
                            legality of cell phone agreement

                            In article <[email protected]>,
                            <[email protected]> wrote:
                            OB legal:If I had relied on what the saleman told me, would I havea case for fraud? E.g. the contract did not guaranteecoverage but the salesman did .
                            *possibly*, against the salesman. *only*.

                            Grounds being 'detrimental reliance', and/or 'fraudulent inducement',
                            to 'fraudulent misrepresentation'.
                            Does it make any difference that I knew he was lying?
                            *probably*. If you knew it wasn't true, it couldn't have been an 'inducement'
                            to enter into the contract.
                            If the _only_ contract was an oral contract, would it make anydifference that I knew he was lying?
                            If you know he's lying, and he thinks he's telling the truth, do you
                            have the 'meeting of the minds' necessary to _form_ a contract? Regardless
                            of whether it is memorialized in writing or not.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              legality of cell phone agreement

                              [email protected] wrote:
                              The salesman showed me a 'coverage' map that was a picture of the entireUnited States with all of the states colored in to indicate service. I asked him if the phone required line-of sight to a tower, he said no. I asked him if the phone would work out in the desert hundreds of miles from anything he said yes. I asked him if it would work in valleys in West VIrginia and in tunnels, he said yes.
                              Basically, that a verbal contract is legally binding goes back to
                              English Common Law, (although many states have a limit on the monetary
                              amount to which such a contract is binding).

                              Here we have a written contract AND a verbal one. The sales person says
                              one thing but the written contract says another. The sales person
                              assures you the written contract guarantees what he has 'said'. And you
                              sign.

                              The question of law is which is *more* binding.

                              Someone else will have to chime in here.

                              I would think (pulling this out of the aether) that a court would say
                              the written agreement is. And the company offering the contract has the
                              right to say "if you can't understand the contract you shouldn't sign
                              it."

                              But suppose the person signing cannot read and the sales person gives a
                              verbal agreement and and assures the signer that the contract accords
                              with what has been verbally agreed?

                              I'm inclined to think in that case the court would say the company has
                              deliberately mislead the other party and the contract is therefore
                              void.

                              I've known a lot of people in the past few years, especially the
                              elderly, that have found themselves locked into contracts where the
                              sales person has mislead them. Is there no "good faith" clause in the
                              law that would void such a contract?

                              Because some states are cracking down on deceptive advertising for cell
                              phone providers who advertise great deals but hide the costs in fine
                              print,
                              see: http://www.mobiletracker.net/archive...22/nyc-lawsuit
                              I cannot help but feel there is some remedy in law for people who are
                              misled by sales reps.

                              Anyone care to expand?

                              Comment

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