Nextel Complaint - Deceptive Billing Practices. Unfair.
HONOLULU, HAWAII -- Voice Mail and Caller ID are commonplace today and go hand in hand with wireless phone service. That’s why I was unpleasantly surprised when I received my latest bill from NEXTEL (Invoice Date May 17, 2005). In the “NEXTEL NEWS” section, after 3 marketing messages, there is a notice that the price for Caller ID and Voice Mail will increase to $3.49 each. In truth, it should read “has” increased. Yes, past tense. I have copied the exact text below.
“*** Notice Regarding Your Caller ID Service
*** The rate for Nextel Caller ID will increase
to $3.49 per month. The new rate is effective
with this statement.”
“*** Notice Regarding Your Voice Mail Service
*** The rate for Nextel Voice Mail will
increase to $3.49 per month. The new rate is
effective with this statement.”
The statement I received today (Invoice Date May 17, 2005) covers the billing period of April 13, 2005 to May 12, 2005. In the Subscriber Activity Summary section, it shows that I was charged $3.49 for Caller ID service between 04/13 and 05/12 and $3.49 for Voice Mail Service between 04/13 and 05/12. The previous bill from Nextel shows that I was paying $2.99 for each of these services.
This is the first notice that I have received regarding a rate increase and yet Nextel has already made the increase effective on April 13, the start of my billing period.
In December of last year, NEXTEL made a similar increase. They increased the price of Caller ID and Voice Mail from $.99 to $2.99 each. As with the current increase, they provided no notice of the increase until after charges had been accumulated for these services. It is like agreeing to stay in a hotel room for a certain price, only to have the hotel raise the rate when you go to checkout. While I do acknowledge that wireless providers do have the right to raise rates, it is not right for them to raise prices for services so important to cellular service and expect me to pay. If I don’t want to pay the increased rates, then I believe I have the right to disconnect. They told me on the telephone I could stop caller ID and voicemail. Why would I want to do that? I’d rather disconnect and sign up with Verizon, T-mobile, or Cingular. After numerous calls to customer service, they would not let me disconnect without a $200 early termination fee for each line.
They threatened that if I don’t pay $400, it will go to collections. On the back of the contract, it does say that a $200 fee does apply, except for termination in response to Company changes. I have notified NEXTEL that I do not accept the changes on May 17, 2005. I have continued to pay my bill and use the service since I am paying for it.
I feel that NEXTEL is guilty of deceptive business practices. I also believe they are in violation of the CTIA Consumer Code for Wireless Services of which they are a signatory to. Among other things, it states in Item 7, that “Carriers will not modify the material terms of their subscribers’ contracts in a manner that is materially adverse to subscribers without providing a reasonable advance notice of a proposed modification and allowing subscribers a time period of not less than 14 days to cancel their contracts with no early termination fee.”