NYC sues Sprint, Nextel, and T-Mobile

The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs sued wireless carriers Sprint, Nextel Communications, and T-Mobile USA, accusing the carriers of misleading advertising practices. The suit alleges the carriers promised one thing in large type but said something different in less conspicuous smaller print. New York City officials singled out a handful of ads they deemed illegal, such as one from Nextel that listed service plans "starting at $10 per month" and phones "starting at $24.99," without detailing other plans or products and without disclosing either the highest price or the average cost of its calling plans and handsets. The department raised similar charges against AT&T Wireless, Cingular Wireless, and Verizon Wireless. Verizon settled for $30,000 while Cingular paid $95,000 to settle.

Also this week the California Utility Consumers' Action Network, a consumer rights group, asked the California Public Utilities Commission to stop Cingular and Sprint from charging for unwanted text messages and other services. State regulators and consumer rights groups have been more aggressively targeting wireless carriers in the last couple of years. Many industry insiders take these actions as a sign of the growing maturity of the wireless industry. Some critics point to these suits as signs that wireless carriers need to work harder to improve their customer service.

For more on the NYC suit against Sprint, Nextel, and T-Mobile:
- read this article from Newsday