Last week, the Federal Communications Commission asked Verizon a question that probably many of the carrier’s customers would like to ask, namely why the fees have doubled to break the contract on a smartphone.
As I previously discussed, Verizon is not alone in charging fees for terminating a contract early, especially with high-end smartphones and other popular handsets. But Verizon went above and beyond, and not in a good way, last month when it doubled the early contract termination fee from $175 to $350.
This likely isn’t the last we’ll be hearing of this either. Mobile phone users should ask the hard questions when buying a smartphone, finding out what the fees are and whether you’ll be grandfathered into the current termination fee if they rise – and just as importantly what the outs are should you decide to get a new phone.
And again as I’ve written over the past couple of months, as with every bill, it is also important to review these each and every month. While it is very easy to essentially look at the bottom line, write the check and call it a day, the Associated Press reported that some Verizon customers were being charged for data usage for accidentally beginning to use the mobile Web without a data plan. Verizon has stated that it has stopped charging when customers immediately cancel the data usage after initiating it. Still, it is worth scanning a bill to make sure you’re not being charged for something you didn’t want – for example when I purchased my latest handset I was automatically charged the carrier insurance, despite the fact that I declined at the time of purchase. At $5 a month that might not seem like much, but in these hard economic times every nickel and every $5 counts! And over the life of the phone, that could account for several hundred dollars.
Mobile Phone Inventors Feared Use by Drivers
Talking about terminating. It seems that the inventor of the mobile phone thought the idea of cars and phones should be terminated, before the two caused a more serious type of termination – loss of life when driving while talking.
This past weekend The New York Times ran an article that showed how forward thinking the inventor of the mobile phone actually was when it came to the issue of phones and cars. The article cites how Martin Cooper, who helped develop the first portable cellular phone, testified before a Michigan state commission about the risks of talking on a phone while behind the wheel. Cooper even suggested that the phones could be used when not in motion – perhaps by putting a lock on the dial when the car was running.
As we know, and the Times article addresses, the industry has spent a lot of money on the driver’s markets, with power adapters, wireless headsets and other accessories specifically aimed for use in automobiles. And the problem is only getting worse thanks to apps, notably those that offer real-time traffic updates.