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July 22, 2005
Always read the fine print
As noted earlier today, three cellphone service providers - Sprint, Nextel and T-Mobile USA - have been sued by the city for allegedly deceptive advertising practices. We use the term 'allegedly' here - but decide for yourself. This stuff seems pretty blatant. The New York Post has some examples of print ads that don't pass the proverbial smell test:
Sprint: "Nationwide long distance included. EVERY MINUTE, EVERY DAY." However, a footnote cites "an additional $0.25 per minute for long distance."
T-Mobile: "FREE LONG DISTANCE" and "FREE ROAMING" but a footnote adds that "billing of roaming charges and minutes of use and services may be delayed" and that "call duration may be limited."
Nextel: "ALL INCOMING CALLS ARE FREE" but read the fine print: "An additional access charge of either $0.10 per minute multiplied by the number of participants on the call . . . or a monthly flat fee."
A big hat tip to the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs for taking on these cellphone companies. According to the Post, Nextel, Sprint and T-Mobile USA are facing fines of up to $500 per violation.
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