The State of Minnesota has brought suit against Sprint Nextel Corporation for automatically extending wireless service contracts with Sprint Nextel without consumers’ consent or notifying consumers of these actions.
Minnesota filed the suit after receiving numerous consumer complaints from its citizens that their service contracts had been automatically renewed by Sprint Nextel without their knowledge or consent. Contracts with U.S. wireless carriers typically require subscribers to sign up for 2 or 3-year service contracts to receive special plan rates, upgrade their subscription plans or to change to new wireless carriers when a new cell phone is purchased. In the U.S. certain models of cell phones are tied to particular wireless carriers, which also require entering into a service contract with that carrier.
The Attorney General for the State of Minnesota accused Sprint Nextel of extending consumer service contracts for up to 2-year terms without notice or consent, violating consumer protection laws by overreaching its position of contract superiority over ordinary consumers. In particular, the Minnesota attorney general claims that Sprint Nextel violated the Minnesota Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Trade Practices Act; and the State is seeking to stop further violations and to obtain civil penalties and restitution for affected consumers.
Sprint issued a statement indicating that it has company policies in place that ensure it does not violate state laws and that it protects consumer rights. Sprint countered that the consumer complaints likely occurred when consumers attempted to cancel their wireless service contracts before the terms had ended, which resulted in the consumer being charged sizeable early termination fees.
The Minnesota Attorney General will weigh in on this when the case comes up for trial.