Sprint certainly is stumbling these days. They can't catch a break. Their stock has been falling, they're bleeding subscribers, and they're cutting their work force. A California judge rubbed a little more salt into the wounds. Judge Bonnie Sabraw of the Alameda County, California Superior Court ruled Sprint has to pay $73 million to old subscribers for early termination fees (ETFs) incurred.

Sprint's argument is ETFs subsidize a portion of the price of the phone. They also claim the amount collected in ETFs is much less than the amount of revenue lost as subscribers breach their service agreements and cancel service early. Consumer groups argue the fees are excessive and unfair. Recently, Verizon settled a similar case for $21 million.

Wireless providers have recently been charging ETFs on a sliding scale tied to the amount of time spent under contract. While this is more equitable, I’m glad to see Verizon settle their case and Sprint lose theirs.

If a wireless provider, or provider of any kind of service, can’t provide you with a reasonable level of service, why should you be financially forced to remain subjected to that inadequate level of service? That flies in the face of free markets. Wireless providers should be rewarded for good service, and allowed to be punished for bad service. Otherwise, where’s the incentive to provide quality service? I, like I’m sure everyone else with a cell phone, never read my entire contract with Verizon. Even if I did, I still probably wouldn’t understand it, as I don’t posses a law degree. I don’t know how they can use the “breach of contract” argument when them not providing an adequate level of service is technically a breach of contract as well. When you enter into a wireless contract, you have an expectation you’ll have reasonable service. If they can’t hold up their end, they’re not providing the service purchased.

Hopefully ETFs will eventually become a thing of the past. For the time being, this is a well-deserved win for wireless consumers.
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Jazzy Sourcer

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