The Iowa Attorney General’s office announced late Wednesday that three of the nation’s biggest cellphone companies have settled a multistate consumer lawsuit. Verizon, Cingular and Sprint agreed with 32 states that from now on they’ll sell service plans with an escape clause for customers who aren’t satisfied. Attorney general’s spokesman Bob Brammer says new customers will now have at least 2 weeks to try out their wireless service, and if they find out it doesn’t work they can terminate the service without paying a penalty or early-termination fee. The cellphone companies also will have to provide accurate coverage maps showing exactly where they do and don’t have coverage, instead of just rate maps, broad outlines that can imply cellphone users will have a connection in a far wider area than they do. There are other details of the settlement, like disclosure requirements for advertising, and another “out” if customers find they don’t like their new plan.If someone cancels a plan within three days, they not only won’t pay a penalty, they can even get back their “activation fee.” The wireless phone companies will offer a list of “good practices” they’ll promise to abide by, and will send the states about five-million dollars as part of the settlement. Iowa will get more than 300-thousand dollars, to go for public education on consumer matters, and enforcement of the Iowa Consumer Fraud Act.
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