Cell Phone Lemon Law

by Bruce Stewart

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).

12 Comments

sean
2007-05-31 13:56:59
hey, i have just gone through 3 phones, my latest i have had for only two days. they all have had technical problems, none of them my fault
sean
2007-05-31 13:57:08
hey, i have just gone through 3 phones, my latest i have had for only two days. they all have had technical problems, none of them my fault
Michael
2007-07-24 21:00:55
I have worked in the mobile phone industry for 9yrs now and i think this law is GREAT!!! I see on a daily basis the problems with phones and cariers not doing or not able to do too much about it. Many times problems with phones are faulty mechanics but more so it is problems with the service itself that the carrier just blames on mechanical problems with the phone. People really are "screwed" when they enter into these contracts and a carrier wouldnt need to force its customers into contracts if their service(netork) and customer service was at its best! Earn your customer dont capture them!!! Your average customer is looking for top notch service and customer service. On a daily basis i encounter customers that are just waiting to get out of their contract for these top reasons: They hate the service they get; they hate their customer service; or they got really screwed on a bill because their sales rep didnt bother to qualify them and get them on the correct rate and feature set for their customer. Not to mention it is a huge hastle to get your phone warrenty exchanged (i just spent 44min on the phone today doing our 3rd replacement with AT&T)I am a huge supporter of this law and think it is about time law makers recognize this problem.
jorge
2007-08-22 09:15:26
First of all Bruce, what is your profession? I have been in the wireless industry for over 9yrs. It's about time they did something like that. I have customers coming in after getting their replacement phone still having issues with the replacement. So don't sit here and criticize this lemon law for the customer's that actually need it. When a customer comes into my store and there is nothing that I can do to replace the phone with a new one. Without them having to pay for a phone at full retail value (which costs over $200) is not fair to the consumer. Don't forget, I too am a consumer to many things and especially with the cell phones. I had two of my phones replaced more than 5 times with t-mobile. Due to the phones being defective, now why would I keep paying for service that I can't use??? So stop being a dumb ass and criticizing everything that is good for the consumers. Whose side are you on or should I say whose desk are you under to write this??? If you feel that you need to contact me please feel free at ubklownin@yahoo.com


Yours truly,
Jorge

Fee java script software
2007-08-27 06:02:28
Once i got phone that worked ... once. and then it took me a good deal of time and nerves to get money back.
Chris
2007-08-31 14:23:46
I am a Retail Manager for a wireless carrier and unfortunately you do see customers that have had 3+ replacements. But I dont beleive this law is the answer. The carriers are just buying the equipment from the manufacturer so that the customer can use there WIRELESS SERVICE. We could care less what phone you buy, and quite honestly we hope it performs to your expectations so you dont have to come in every day with problems. The manufacturer is the one at fault, why should the carrier be penalized for somthing that they didnt make. We would be happy to give you whatever phone you want if we didnt have to pay it to the manufacturer ourselves. Secondly the purpose of a contract is not to "trap" a customer. The full retail prices of phones are very steep. Carriers offer contracts to reduce the upfront cost to the customer. If phones were still running $2-300 for the most basic phone, they would not be nearly as successful. The carriers pay the rest of the price and offer the contract to ensure they will make back their money. The average carrrier loses $200 to activate a new customer. Its after the customer upgrades a couple times that they really start to make a profit. I do feel the customers should have the right to change equipment if it is not providing the service they were seeking, but not at the expense of the carrier.
awilda
2007-11-06 08:27:30
I got 3 contracts with Cellular One ( my son, my daughter-in-law and myself. 9 months later my son and I started having problems with our phones, Sony Ericcson( my daugerter-in law got the free phone no problem) From June to Oct we sent both for repairs 3 times. I requested a new phone since it was obvious they could not repair the problem. "No Deal".On the third time I sent in my phone Oct 3 and I waited 4 weeks to only get my phone back stating that the manufacture warranty was up and if I want it fixed I had to pay $150 ( I only payed $74). I tracked my receipts and found I had sent the phone in on Oct 3rd and manufacture warranty was up Oct 23rd. I also have a repair order form from them for that date. Where was my phone for 20days??? I should not have to pay for their lemon nor their error !!! So far I have spent 6 hours on this and still trying. PLease pass this LAW real soon. Or, please give some retro. time for us struggling with this problem.My story is longer but enough for now. Thank you.
Amanda
2007-11-27 08:40:04
I feel this law is needed and comes to good use. I have had problems with my phone. The language on it changes by itself and the companies response to me was to learn the language it switches to. I find it ridiculas that they would even suggest this to a customer, but before I found this I thought I was stuck with them for another year and 3 months. All I have asked them to do is fix my phone or replace it. I pay for the extra insurance on my phone for what I thought would be a good idea considering no one out there is perfect and there could end up being problems with the phone. I think with all the cell phone companies out there one must care enough about their customers to help them. My phone has been having this issue for 8 months now and I have called approximately 15 times on it and have been told there is nothing they can do but I am stuck in contract. What gives companies the right to not care about their customers and let them have bad experiences with their company.
Michael
2008-05-01 11:46:55
I have SPRINT and i started my contract in October or 2007 and this is now my 7th phone and it is just April of 2008 and I am stuck in my contract and then sprint wants me to buy a more expensive phone to avoid the issue.....
Bryan
2008-05-27 12:12:03
I bought the iphone in January,
1st phone, Screen broke,
2nd phone, lasted one week, hard drive crashed
3rd phone, lasted 24hrs before I started having problems with it.
AT&T doesn't have any control over apple. Apple simply wants to replace the phone.
PASS THE LAW!
michael Duprey
2008-07-03 17:01:31
I have new phones from nextel sprint and nothing works ever please explain this law to me. I am dealing with a company that has more money than I do, so they kinda got me. I have spent hours on the phone with them, being passed from one agent to the next. Any help would be great please feel free to call 1808-757-0708
braulio
2008-07-29 17:30:50
I am currently trying to get the nextel company to cancel my contract for having a lemon cell phone.I have tried everything that they have asked me to do,but there solution to the problem is,upgrade, I am hoping that some one can lead me in the right direction to fixing this problem.