Apparently the US government is above paying early termination fees. I’m not going to sit here flailing my arms around and pounding my fists on my desk, because I’m sure that every single government agent with a state-issued cell phone is walking around with a Nokia 6110 with duct tape over the battery cover. Ha! Because the government is slow to adopt change, get it?
Anyway, the story is that back in 2004, Nextel was trying to decide whether or not to charge the government $200 early termination fees when the company’s then-VP of Marketing, Scott Wiener, sent an e-mail around saying "The government will never, never accept such penalty amounts," according to the Associated Press.
Fast-forward to today and…
A spokesman for Sprint-Nextel, John Taylor, said the company determined it could not assess the termination fees in its federal contract because it would have been against the law. Taylor said the company is upfront with its customers about the fee and offers a variety of pricing plans.
You’ll notice that Sprint, along with most other cell phone companies, has special plans for the government and the public sector. It appears that those plans don’t include early termination fees like the plans for regular schlubs do.
The whole issue surfaced because of an FCC hearing going on today, where Kevin Martin “has said he wants to regulate fees charged to cellphone users who cancel their wireless contracts early.” That’s all well and good, but I have a feeling that if you made the early termination fee $75 instead of $175, the price of the handsets would just go up by $100.