Sprint to start prorating early termination fees

Sprint joins the other major wireless carriers in trimming customer contracts fees as they reach the end of their contract.

Sprint will change course and start prorating early termination fees, the company's CEO said Tuesday. In an interview with the Associated Press, CEO Dan Hesse said the carrier could initiate the practice as early as December, after updating its billing software.

Sprint has been the lone holdout of the major carriers in trimming ETFs as customers near the end of their two-year contract. T-Mobile started prorating fees in June following the lead of Verizon Wireless and AT&T.

Though ETFs have long been the been the bane of consumers, carriers maintain that they are a way for them to recoup costs for offering free or heavily discounted new phones to customers. The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, which represents carriers in Washington, supports ETFs for the same reason.

Currently, ETFs are not regulated by the the federal government, but the Federal Communications Commission is considering taking some oversight. During a hearing with the FCC in June, carrier representatives said they would be willing to accept some limitations on ETFs as long as the carriers could be absolved from class action lawsuits over the fees.

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Kent German leads CNET's How To coverage and is the senior managing editor of CNET Magazine. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he started in San Francisco and is now based in the London office. When not at work, he's planning his next trip to Australia, going for a run, or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really).


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