Sprint Doubled My Tablet Bill. What Should I Do?

Photo (cc) by JeepersMedia

Question: I have had an account with Sprint for almost a year now. It’s a tablet plan for 2 GB of data for $15 per month.

Last month, my bill came to $30 for no reason. I had no overages or anything of the sort. I literally spent hours with someone from customer support before they could fix it.

And the bills kept coming. Every month, I was charged $30 instead of $15. So I sent a written complaint to the Federal Communications Commission.

Sprint replied to the FCC, claiming it informed me in February about a new $7.99 fee and that I could cancel my account by May 1 without incurring any early termination fees. I have automatic payments set up, so I never saw the bill message in February, and who is really looking at those, anyway?

I did look at the copy of the bill and there is something in there about the fee, but it says absolutely nothing about closing the account without being charged an early termination fee.

My calls and emails to Sprint executives are not being answered. What should I do? — Boris Kontsevich, Manalapan, N.J.

Answer: Sprint should have clearly disclosed the new fee and told you about your options. In its view — and in mine — it fulfilled that obligation when it sent you a text message and included a warning on your March wireless bill.

Now, that doesn’t make what Sprint did right. Not by a long shot.

According to the FCC rebuttal by Sprint, the charge is a $7.99 spending limit program charge, which can be avoided if you participate in Sprint’s eBill program. It doesn’t really explain the fee; nor does it really have to.

But Sprint also admits that it charged you the fee “in error” because you were already enrolled in eBill. It said it had made the adjustments after you contacted it. (That still leaves about $7 a month unaccounted for, which is a mystery.)

No question about it, the “spending limit” fee is just another in a long list of irritating junk fees that line the pockets of many American businesses. Cellular companies are notorious purveyors of junk fees, but the airline industry isn’t far behind. Fees for printing out a boarding pass come to mind, but there are others. Many others.

I don’t want to dwell on the subject for too long, but there are two ways of looking at these fees. First, customers like you are the impetus for junk fees because you’re so price sensitive that you’ll only pay $15 for your tablet plan. Or second, the endlessly inventive and underregulated wireless industry, under constant pressure from shareholders, must impose junk fees to satisfy a voracious appetite for profit.

I can’t blame customers for wanting good deals. They’ve wanted them since the beginning of time. In my view, this is just another case of a poorly regulated industry run amok, and someone needs to rein it in.

It turns out a refund wasn’t enough for you; you also wanted to get out of your contract. In addition to the FCC, you filed a complaint with the BBB with no luck. I’m not surprised, nor am I surprised that Sprint’s executives failed to respond to your inquiries.

I contacted Sprint on your behalf. It agreed to close your account and waive the early termination fees.

Elliott’s latest book is “How to Be the World’s Smartest Traveler” (National Geographic). Email him at [email protected]

More on Elliott.org:

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
9 Items Under $25 That Will Keep Your House Clean
9 Items Under $25 That Will Keep Your House Clean

We’ve rounded up some of the best products for cleaning your bathroom, kitchen and every other room.

20 Great Part-Time Jobs for Retirees
20 Great Part-Time Jobs for Retirees

Maybe you’re not ready to leave the workplace entirely.

3 Costly Social Security Mistakes That Women Make
3 Costly Social Security Mistakes That Women Make

Women face unique challenges when planning for retirement and making these mistakes can result in a skimpier retirement.

How to Save Up to 70% on 7 Everyday Purchases
How to Save Up to 70% on 7 Everyday Purchases

Stop getting sucked into paying a premium when good alternatives are available at huge savings.

Stop Buying These 19 Things Online
Stop Buying These 19 Things Online

The internet has changed how we shop. But for some things, you’re still better off buying the old-fashioned way.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Whether you resell it for a big profit or add it to your own wardrobe, this type of clothing is a hidden steal.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia
This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia

Nearly half of U.S. residents may face this threat.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds
Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It
11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?
Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?

Researchers say too many doctors are overlooking this potential source of hypertension.

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free
13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy
These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy

These vehicles boast reliability, safety and long-lasting value.

Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider
Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider

A new study has bad news for the millions of Americans who spend money on multivitamins.

21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss
21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss

Start off the new year by implementing these small-but-smart savings strategies. They’ll soon add up.

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore
Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

Prepare to Pay More for These 31 Drugs in 2021
Prepare to Pay More for These 31 Drugs in 2021

More than 700 prescription medications have seen price hikes so far this year. Here’s a look at the worst.

5 States Lowering Taxes This Year — and 2 Raising Them
5 States Lowering Taxes This Year — and 2 Raising Them

State personal income tax rates, brackets and deductions just changed in these places.

The 10 Golden Rules of Becoming a Millionaire
The 10 Golden Rules of Becoming a Millionaire

I’m a millionaire several times over. I got here the same way you can — by following these simple steps.

11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked
11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked

Does your retirement budget account for all of these costs?

7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster
7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster

These tips can get your bathroom sparkling with little time and no elbow grease.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.