Cellphones’ New Early Termination Fee: The Customers’ Responsibility

1512 words - 6 pages

Imagine a world without cellphones. Can you think of yourself without one? As the clock ticks with Information Technology, we cannot help but run along the fast lane of the 21st century. Like a car, this development is being fueled by communication: Internet, text messaging, electronic-mails – all bundled up in one gadget, the cellphone. It is needless to say then that cellphones or mobile phones are now the roads of communication. How technology has prospered the human species, giving us with so much liberty, carries a price tag we all have to pay – Responsibility. Mobile network operators embody this responsibility in the form of a contract. Once this contract is breached, the high amount of early termination fee will be the painful consequence. This issue brings the question: Are Early Termination Fees fair to everyone? Or is this an exploitation of mobile operators?
As we know it, advance gadgets are changing faster than we can think of. Knowing that the long-awaited iPhone 4 is coming to Verizon Wireless this month, I thought of purchasing it under the deal of a 2-year contract. I am a Verizon Wireless customer using a feature phone for basic uses (e.g. calling and texting). Although I want to upgrade to a smartphone, I still have a contract with my feature phone. As part of my research, I reread my network provider’s Customer Agreement. I was horrified to know the $175 ETF I have to pay if I cancel my current contract. The ETF may be prorated, but paying around $100 still hurts my pocket. It is worse if I had a smartphone because I have to pay twice my current phone’s ETF. I cannot assure that nothing wrong will happen to the iPhone within the 2-year contract. My first reaction is ETFs are ridiculous and exploitations to customers! How about those who damaged their phones and have to purchase a new one? What happens to those who cannot have a good signal in their area? As I go by every complaint I could think of, all causes of the problem(s) root on the handling of the phone. In the end, I rest my case on accepting that Early Termination Fees are fair to everyone.
First, let me explain the basis for ETF. This policy applies only to discounted phones bundled up with service plans from a network provider; therefore, it excludes prepaid phones or handsets bought by customers in full-retail price. It might be so easy to say ‘Why not just buy prepaid phones to avoid ETF?’ but for people who can’t afford the full-retail price or also need Internet, Word processing tools, and a camera all in one gadget, a discounted phone is the best deal.
With a dramatic increase of demand for communication in a time-pressured and economically depressed nation, mobile companies make tough alternatives on maintaining customer service by reducing the cost of handsets. An example of this is the previous model of iPhone 3G-8GB which can now be purchased at $49.00 at AT&T under the terms of 2-year subscription, yet if purchased at a full-retail price will be...

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