Sprint recently settled an Early Termination Fee (ETF) class action suit. Unfortunately for consumers, it’s a very raw deal… except to the class action attorneys involved.
And, it’s quite broad, covering customers from 1999 all the way to 2008.
The settlement makes a bunch of branching paths, but basically it says that you are entitled up to only a $90 credit, and in most cases a $25 to $35 credit, if you paid an ETF on a Sprint account. If you can’t provide the required documentation, all you can get is a waiver for the activation fee on a new Sprint account (and 100 bonus minutes for a year on the new plan).
But, worse, the terms are riddled with exceptions. For example, a customer who is in collections over an ETF may not be entitled to get even a paltry $25 credit on that debt, if Sprint has already sold the debt to a third-party (collection agency). In that event, a Sprint customer is only entitled to the waiver on a new activation fee, on a new plan.
And, of course, you can’t sign up for new service until you pay off the old ETF. Injury, meet insult.
PhoneNews.com suggests that youÂ object to this proposed settlement, based on the extremely poor conditions of this settlement, including (but certainly not limited to) no option for Sprint to arbitrate ETFs charged… ETFs that consumers have legitimate ongoing objections to.
In short, the settlement doesn’t come close to amicably refunding consumers, hurts consumers who may already be in collections, and provides no recourse for the consumer to have their case examined.
To object to the settlement, you simply need to write a brief letter to the court, explaining why you think this is an unfair settlement for the consumer. It doesn’t have to be in legalese at all. You’ll then need to print two copies of it, and send it to the following addresses:
District of New Jersey, 50 Walnut Street, Newark, New Jersey 07101
Class Counsel at Carella, Byrne, Bain, Gilfillan, Cecchi, Stewart & Olstein, Attn: Sprint ETF Settlement, 5 Becker Farm Road, Roseland, New Jersey 07068
Quite damning for the settlement attorneys (and/or the claims administrator), is that the consumer-friendly version of the settlement web site omits the address to the court… preventing consumer’s objections from being heard.
It’s also worth noting, that this settlement web site may be violating the law in and of itself. The header of the site states: “Please note: do not call or write to Sprint Nextel, their attorneys or the Court regarding this settlement.” A settlement web site is forbidden from advocating against asking users to not object to a settlement, which you must contact the court to do. Furthermore, class action attorneys are often contacted by settlement class members when a claims administrator fails to do their job.
One thing is quite clear, either the settlement site was a rush job riddled with errors, or it was designed to prevent consumers from objecting to the suit. That’s all the more reason for you to take 10 minutes out of the day, and ask the judge in this case to throw out this raw deal of a settlement.
Update: The settlement web site has been updated, correcting the errors andÂ egregiousÂ violations that we noted. However, we still encourage you to send in an objection letter to the court, if you want to help improve the terms of the settlement for consumers.