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STATEMENT OF COMMISSIONER MIGNON CLYBURN REGARDING VERIZON WIRELESS'S DECEMBER 18 LETTER ON ETFS

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Released: December 23, 2009

NEWS
Federal Communications Commission

News Media Information 202 / 418-0500

445 12th Street, S.W.

Internet: http://www.fcc.gov

Washington, D. C. 20554

TTY: 1-888-835-5322

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action.
See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEWS MEDIA CONTACT
December 23, 2009
Rick Kaplan, (202) 418-1728
rick.kaplan@fcc.gov

STATEMENT OF COMMISSIONER MIGNON CLYBURN

REGARDING VERIZON WIRELESS’S DECEMBER 18 LETTER ON ETFs

“I was pleased to see the Commission’s Wireless Bureau pose a series of important
questions in early December to Verizon Wireless regarding the company’s recently increased
early termination fees (ETFs) and related issues. I was surprised, as many people were, to see
that Verizon elected to raise its early termination fees for certain ‘advanced devices.’
“Late Friday, Verizon Wireless responded to the Bureau’s queries. The company’s
answers, however, are unsatisfying and, in some cases, troubling. In particular, I am concerned
about what appears to be a shifting and tenuous rationale for ETFs. No longer is the claim that
ETFs are tied solely to the true cost of the wireless device; rather, they are now also used to foot
the bill for ‘advertising costs, commissions for sales personnel, and store costs.’ Consumers
already pay high monthly fees for voice and data designed to cover the costs of doing business.
So when they are assessed excessive penalties, especially when they are near the end of their
contract term, it is hard for me to believe that the public interest is being well served.
“I am also alarmed by the fact that many consumers have been charged phantom fees for
inadvertently pressing a key on their phones thereby launching Verizon Wireless’s mobile
Internet service. The company asserted in its response to the Bureau that it ‘does not charge
users when the browser is launched,’ but recent press reports and consumer complaints strongly
suggest otherwise.
“These issues cannot be ignored. Wireless communications are an essential part of our
lives, linking us to our places of business, our communities, and our loved ones. The bottom line
is that wireless companies can truly earn their desired long-term commitments from consumers
by focusing primarily on developing innovative products, maintaining affordable prices, and
providing excellent customer service. I look forward to exploring this issue in greater depth with
my colleagues in the New Year.
-- FCC --

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