UCAN Victory! Sprint customers receive $531,000 in refunds plus additional credits as a result of UCAN lawsuit
Yesterday, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved a settlement in a case UCAN brought against Sprint for a number of problems with its Sprint Pioneer wireless phone plans.
We filed a complaint with the CPUC in August 2008, to correct Sprint's various billing errors including the following.
1. Charging an administrative and regulatory fee on Pioneer plans which have no monthly fee
2. Charging Early Termination Fees in error
3. Long distance service billing errors
4. Charging Reconnection and Reactivation fees in error
5. Call Rounding billing errors
The case resulted in credits and refunds of $531,000, additional free usage credits to all Sprint Pioneer credits, and important fixes to the Sprint billing system. The benefits will largely go to San Diego area customers, who "pioneered" (anyone?) digital wireless service for Sprint.
From decision, as drafted by Judge Maribeth Bushey:
"As set forth in the settlement agreement, Sprint agrees to address various billing errors that occurred for its Pioneer Plan customers by:
1. correcting the errors,
2. crediting or refunding those customers who received unauthorized charges due to billing errors, with total estimated credits and refunds estimated at $521,281.67,
3. providing notice to customers of the corrections,
4. offering customers an opportunity to reactivate accounts that were terminated, and
5. allowing dissatisfied customers to change or terminate plans without incurring an early termination fee."
Sprint Pioneer customers, which pay per minute, will also receive 25 minutes of free usage per month for 12 months. The result is likely to be hundreds of thousands of dollars of additional compensation to Sprint Pioneer customers for Sprint's errors.
"The settlement is reasonable in light of the whole record. The Parties worked together for 18 months fully analyzing Sprint’s Pioneer program’s billing issues and carefully developed a comprehensive plan to address those issues. The five minor modifications shown in the amended settlement agreement are clear evidence of the parties’ attention to detail and commitment to customers’ interests.
We, therefore, conclude that the settlement agreement is reasonable in light of the record...
Approving the settlement agreement is in the public interest because it will bring prompt refunds to customers and allow customers to change plans without incurring additional fees. Furthermore, the Settlement Agreement serves the public interest by expeditiously resolving issues that otherwise would have been litigated. The parties should be commended for their skillful efforts in resolving this matter. Based on the foregoing evaluation criteria, the settlement agreement meets the applicable legal standards."
The entire UCAN staff deserves credit for this victory, particularly Fraud Squad staff member Sue Macomber, former Fraud Squad member Sandy Young, and then interns Mike Scott and Jessica Stone. Executive Director Michael Shames and myself served as attorneys on the case.
I also want to thank Professor Fred Zacharias, long time constitutional law professor at University of San Diego School of Law. While Fred passed away this past fall, he provided important details which helped us understand and correct the problems at Sprint. As a professor, Fred Zacharias was a visionary in advocating the concept that attorneys must recognize other duties in addition to solely narrow advocacy to their client, including duties to the public interest. Professor Zacharias was my law professor, and someone for whom I held the utmost respect. I will miss him.
|CPUC decision in approving Sprint Pioneer Settlement 08-08-026.pdf||72.16 KB|
|Sprint Pioneer 08-08-026 Settlement.pdf||330.14 KB|