Senators Take Aim at Cellphone-Termination Fees

Four senators introduced legislation Thursday aimed at the fees wireless carriers charge when subscribers change providers before their contracts are up.

The bill, dubbed the Cell Phone Early Termination Fee, Transparency and Fairness Act, would cap those early-termination fees based on the price of the phone, and would pro-rate fees based on the time left on the contract.

“Forcing consumers to pay outrageous fees bearing little to no relation to the cost of their handset devices is anti-consumer and anti-competitive,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.), one of the bill’s sponsors, said in a statement.

“It’s allowing consumers more information and also making sure that the industry isn’t sticking it to consumers,” a spokeswoman for the senator added.

Early-termination fees have attracted criticism from some lawmakers, regulators and consumer groups, who say they’re too high and too complicated. Most of the major wireless carriers, including Verizon Wireless (VZ), AT&T (T) and Sprint (S), have faced disputes related to their fees.

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