You Mean Cell Phones Aren't Free?
from the something-for-nothing dept
Business Week’s got a slightly odd story that’s basically complaining about the cost of replacing a broken cell phone. It tells the story of a New York woman whose phone died, and her carrier wouldn’t replace it for free because they said she’d damaged it, which she disputes. In any case, she didn’t want to accept any of the options the operator gave her: get a new phone at a cheap price by renewing her contract for two years, paying $175 to break her contract and switch to another provider or just pay full retail price for another phone. Her tale is then followed with somebody from a consumer group complaining about high replacement costs — then about the high early-termination fees carriers stipulate in their contracts. While long-term contracts with high ETFs aren’t much fun, they do allow operators to recoup the handset subsidies that make phones so cheap to begin with. For a supposed consumer advocate to complain about expensive handsets, and then about contracts and ETFs, is more than a little misguided. Operators have for some time been complaining about the high cost of subsidies, so doing away with them at the expense of high ETFs might be a trade they’d be willing to make. But that gets back to the original complaint — that phones cost too much for consumers. While operators deserve plenty of scorn, this is one case where these consumer advocates are trying to have their cake and eat it too.