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
Want a Healthy Retirement? Turn This Device Off
Want a Healthy Retirement? Turn This Device Off

A common behavior becomes increasingly dangerous for those who are 50 or older.

7 Deadly Health Mistakes People Make After Age 50
7 Deadly Health Mistakes People Make After Age 50

Simply avoiding these actions, or lack thereof, can improve the odds of a longer, more healthful life.

21 Thrift Store Gems You Can Cash In On
21 Thrift Store Gems You Can Cash In On

Here’s what to look for at that overstuffed thrift store — and how you can make money from it.

This Is the Best Used Car You Can Buy
This Is the Best Used Car You Can Buy

This car combines reliability, safety and long-lasting value.

This Online Bank Rated Best for Second Year in a Row
This Online Bank Rated Best for Second Year in a Row

This bank pays interest without charging monthly fees, but there’s a downside.

View this page without ads

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

Get Started

Most Popular
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.

11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco

This leader in bulk shopping is a great place to find discounts in the fixed-income years.

Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines
Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines

Fall is the time to schedule vaccines that can keep you healthy — and even save your life.

11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous
11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous

When you get the impulse to stockpile these everyday items, pay close attention to their expiration dates.

11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies
8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies

In this age of higher-priced drugs and complex health care systems, a trip to the pharmacy can spark worry. Freebies sure do help.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

8 Major Retailers Closed for Thanksgiving This Year
8 Major Retailers Closed for Thanksgiving This Year

More big chains are closing on the holiday to give employees a break and discourage crowding for public safety reasons.

The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America
The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America

A new model parks atop the list of vehicles that thieves love to pilfer.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020
The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020

Based on dozens of metrics tied to affordability, quality of life and health care, these are not ideal places to spend retirement.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

9 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday
9 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday

These items are all steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income
26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income

These states won’t tax any of your Social Security income — and in some cases, other types of retirement income.

10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62
10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62

If you can, here are several good reasons to retire earlier than we’re told to.

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.

5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles
5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles

Pushing your car to 200,000 miles — and beyond — can save you piles of cash. Here’s how to get there.

5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees
5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees

Retirees agree: These are the things that give them purpose and fulfillment in their golden years.

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.