Illinois lawmakers are apparently pushing through a new bill to protect consumers who get “lemon” cell phones, modeled after similar automobile lemon laws. RCR Wireless News has all the details.
Under the bill, subscribers whose cellphones must be repaired or replaced as a result of mechanical or manufacturing defects three times or more can cancel their service contracts without having to pay an early termination fees. Such charges range between $150 and $200 per line.
“For many people, a cellphone is their only means of communication,” Mendoza said. “Keeping consumers with faulty equipment locked into a long-term contract is just another example of big businesses trying to take advantage of the little guy.”
The lawmaker’s bill also offers consumers the option of upgrading or downgrading their phone model by paying or being refunded only the difference in cost based on promotional prices—also without incurring penalty charges. An amendment to the bill was approved to strike language that would have required a mobile phone operator to pay a consumer $25 for each day the handset is unavailable to the consumer or each day the consumer does not have full access to all of the contracted services.
I can appreciate wanting to give the carriers stronger incentives to be responsive to customers, but I’ve never heard of anyone having to have their phone repaired three different times, and while I’m sure it happens it’s hard for me to believe that we really need a law for this. As many problems as there are with the cell carriers in the U.S., I’m under the impression that they’re actually pretty good at dealing with faulty equipment (and that the quality of handsets is generally solid).