On Your Side: Cancellation-Fee Quandary

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My father passed away recently, and his Sprint phone was under contract on my account. Sprint promised not to charge me an Early Termination Fee for canceling his line if I sent the company a copy of his obituary. But when I did so, I also notified Sprint that my mom wanted to keep my father's phone number for sentimental reasons. I then ported the number to her Verizon plan. But Sprint subsequently charged me the $180 fee be­­cause I had ported the number. Can you help?
­--Richard Ruggieri, Providence, Rhode Island

OYS responds: When we contacted Sprint about Ruggieri's issue, a Sprint public relations representative explained that the company's policy is to waive the cancellation fee if someone dies, but that carriers (including Sprint) typically don't waive them when somebody ports a phone number to another carrier. The rep said that the company would not have charged a fee if the account had remained active on Sprint until the contract's termination. Once a contract ends, the user can port the number to another carrier--or simply cancel the account--without incurring a fee. After hearing Ruggieri's plea, a Sprint Customer Care Team member decided to reimburse him for the $180 fee, citing the sensitive nature of this particular case.

This misunderstanding resulted from confusion about what the company's policy was and what might trigger an exception to it. When a Sprint representative originally promised Ruggieri a waived fee, that person was under the impression that the family would either be canceling the account or porting the number to a different Sprint ac­­count. We recommend that you read up on company policy before initiating contact with a vendor or carrier, and clarify each detail of your case to avoid miscommunication and crossed wires.

Wrong OS on Refurbished Phones

Dave Sanda of Fountain Inn, South Carolina, bought two refurbished Archos 7 501521 Internet Home Tablets from TigerDirect. The devices were advertised as running Android 2.1 OS, but they arrived with Android OS 1.5 installed and would not update to version 2.1. When Sanda contacted TigerDirect's help team to ask about returning the tablets, a company rep told him that it would charge a 15 to 20 percent restocking fee, and that he must pay for shipping. After we spoke with TigerDirect, the company agreed to waive the applicable restocking and shipping fees if Sanda returned the tablets with their original components and boxes.

Remote Control System Recall

Niles Audio, in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, has recalled about 4160 iRemoteTS and iC2 remote control systems for home-theater setups. If the device's battery falls during handling, it can rupture and smoke or ignite, posing a fire hazard. Consumers should immediately stop using the remote and contact the company to schedule in-home repair. Consumers will receive a replacement battery and a more secure battery cover. For more information, contact Niles Audio at 800/667-3991, or at www.nilesaudio.com/recall.

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