Monday, April 09, 2007

Stand Up and Fight Cancellation Charges! Those Uppity ISPs...

It was reported earlier that many ISPs are charging people as much as $150 for canceling their service before the end of contract. Cell phone companies have done it. Anyone that provides a special deal in exchange for a contract has tried to do it. The fact is, if you are canceling because of any significant and unaddressed breach in the promised services and if you stand up to them, by threatening an aggressive class action suit, they will back down on their high horses.

In particular there is a rash of cancellations at Verizon as of late for their preventing popular P2P applications. They are doing their best to stop the hemorrhaging from their righteously outraged customers. Of course Verizon claims they are trying to avoid legal vulnerabilty from the charge they are assisting pirating.

If Verizon were my ISP and they substantially change the terms of my service, I would not be legally bound under any circumstances to fulfill the term of my contract as using P2P software for file trading is a legitimate function of the internet despite any pirating that may be going on.

The ISP certainly can't be held responsible for enabling piracy, nor the software anymore than a car company could be held responsible for enabling bank robbers.

If my cellphone company offered "unlimited" service, then adds a service and tries to charge me for that service and refuses to add it to my existing package, I may cancel without punitive action. Even without suing them, you can prevent your credit company from paying any charges pending a satisfactory outcome, tying up not only their cancellation fee but their entire remaining unpaid charges. You may claim that the inconvenience of your having to change providers, in fact, justifies a counter suit above and beyond the unpaid bill. Further, if they try to mark your credit record, the laws are clear that they had better have a judgement before they do so, or they will be up for punitive damages far more than that silly cancellation (extortion) fee.

Take this from someone who has canceled many services upon dissatisfaction with no financial penalty. Hell, my friend even got a new $1200 refrigerator fighting back against a breach in warranty. the reality is, though, that only one in a million customers has the balls or intelligence to stand up to these vultures.

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