No Bill Of Rights For Mobile Users… But, Uh… We'll Investigate Crappy Service

In 2004, California passed a mobile phone “bill of rights” designed to protect consumers from misleading statements from mobile operators — basically helping people get out of onerous contracts within a reasonable period of time if (for example) there really wasn’t service covering your home, despite a map that said there was. However, after the mobile operators went to court over the issue, the bill of rights was ditched. Late last year a new telco bill of rights was proposed that covered mobile operators as well as regular telco efforts — such as DSL (mandating network neutrality). However, instead of passing that, it appears that regulators have instead passed what amounts to a PR statement about how they’ll be tough on misleading mobile operators. It doesn’t appear to guarantee any rights to users who find themselves stuck in bad contracts, but instead promises a special unit to “investigate” misleading claims from operators. That seems like a pretty weak solution. After all, shouldn’t misleading claims already be investigated? Of course, the best solution would have been if regulation wasn’t needed at all — but so far, the operators haven’t always shown a willingness to respond to customer complaints, and with users locked in for so long, there are some real consumer concerns.

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