NYC Sues Sprint, Nextel, T-Mobile Over Ads
“You can’t promise a great deal in the headline and hide the true costs in the fine print,” said DCA Acting Commissioner Jonathan Mintz in a statement.
One could definitely hear a pin drop at Sprint today, as well as at its merger partner Nextel and at competitor T-Mobile.
The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs has sued all three wireless providers under the city’s Consumer Protection Law, citing deceptive advertising by the trio.
“Consumers rely on advertising as a shortcut through the often-confusing maze of wireless options and the City’s law provides protection to ensure those ads are truthful,” said Mr. Mintz.
The DCA had problems with numerous advertisements made by the companies, citing these examples in a press release:
• Nextel deceived consumers by advertising “ALL INCOMING CALLS ARE FREE” when in fact, a tiny, multi-line footnote at the bottom of the advertisement indicated “…an additional access charge of either $.10 per minute multiplied by the number of participants on the call…or a monthly flat fee,” would be charged to the consumer if he or she signed up for the advertised calling plan.
• Sprint deceived consumers by advertising “NATIONWIDE LONG DISTANCE INCLUDED. EVERY MINUTE, EVERY DAY” when in fact, a tiny, multi-line footnote at the bottom of the advertisement indicated a charge for long distance — including the phrase “…an additional $0.25 per minute for long distance.”
• T-Mobile deceived consumers by advertising “FREE LONG DISTANCE” and “FREE ROAMING” when in fact, a tiny, multi-line footnote at the bottom of the advertisement indicated “Billing of roaming charges and minutes of use and services may be delayed” and “Call duration may be limited.”
Charges were filed in New York Supreme Court. The DCA had pursued charges against Cingular and Verizon, but reached settlements with them and agreements that they would fully comply with the Consumer Protection Law.
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.