Cell Phone Companies

Cell phone companies under fire

The success of the cellular telephone companies largely depends on the forced commitment they made in order to increase their customer base. When the American Customer Satisfaction Index broke the wireless telephony carriers out as a separate group in 2004, since then they have the lowest customer satisfaction scores. Cellular companies provide two major ways to connect to the customers; locked phone which is entitled to operate with their networks only and the termination fees. But nowadays both the schemes are under fire.

Some telephony carriers which have subscribers in different metropolitan cities are pursuing other carriers and are offering facilities which will help in unlocking the CDMA phones of other telephony carriers subscribers. All the new users have to pay an activation fees but the company eases the burden of the first time user by giving them one month free service.

The GSM carriers offer SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card activation by which the customers can bring their unlocked devices to the GSM cell phone company's network. But as SIM card is not used in the CDMA phones, consumers have to carry their phones to the authorised dealers or to the CDMA cell phone companies' stores to reassign their devices and the number to the CDMA network. SMS services, Data services and MMS gateway addresses also needs to be reprogrammed. And if the phone is loaded with any of the carrier specific software then it is to be deactivated or erased completely.

Most of the cell phone companies' uses long term contracts with the customers and takes an early termination fees so that the customers are locked in. But in that regard new rules has been outlined by the FCC. Although the FCC has noticed that the termination fees allows the cell phone companies to recoup some of their expenses of subsidized handset prices, this is also an issue for the consumer.

When a subscriber ends his/her contract with the cell phone companies then he/she is charged a fee which ranges from $150 to $225 and if you have multiple connections, you will be charged with multiple fees. In the case of a subscriber who is not satisfied with the service quality, it is just wastage of money and hurts a lot. Generally, it happens that these cell phone companies locks people into those services which they will ultimately want to leave.

Now the consumers have become concerned. In the years 2006 and 2007, more than 3700 complaints were lodged on early termination fees. Most of the customers are surprised to see the amount in their first bill which is not as per their expectation. Only then they learn that their trial period has ended and if they cancel it then they have to pay the early termination fees. So it is foremost important to find the ways to protect the consumers and find the ways to make them understand the communication services fees.

To guide them FCC has considered 5 rules:

  1. The fees should be related to the equipments cost.

  2. Service contracts length should be practical.

  3. Termination fees should come into account when the consumer takes the phone home and receives the first bill.

  4. Pro-rated fees over the agreement period.

  5. Consumers who renew their contract and does not receives any new equipment must not face termination fees.