US Cellular problems at Spoons

Need your help/opinion re: commercial dispute

Spoons is having trouble with an early termination fee at US Cellular. Though it sounds from his telling that he’s certainly fulfilled the spirit of the contract, I’m not so sure about the letter. In any event, a $150 fee for transferring a phone number 17 days before the end of a term that has been fully paid for seems excessive. Doubly so if the behavior of the customer service rep was anything like Spoons reported.

So although I don’t have the knowledge of the specific contract or any expertise in the interpretation of such things, I’m cautiously endorsing Spoons’ efforts.

I know that my little site won’t really help bring any additional pressure to bear if that’s what it comes to. And I don’t think threats of negative exposure if Spoons is, in fact, wrong are called for at all. But if I’m going to try and generate some buzz about 767 tankers, F-22 fighters, and body armor, I’m sure as Hades going to try and generate a hit or two and some Google rank for a blogosphere comrade.

If you’ve got advice for Spoons about his U.S. Cellular problem, go give him some. I don’t have advice, but I’ve got a link. (As well as a link or two for Paul at Wizbang who’s helping raise the Google rank himself.)

UPDATE: Plus, I guess it won’t hurt to link to those linking to Spoons or Wizbang since it will help raise the Google rank of that post, which in turn will aid the the rank of the post that it links to.

So here they are:, ISOU, Damnum Absque Injuria, Weekend Pundit, Freedom Sight, Damnum Absque Injuria (again), Peoria Pundit, Not Exactly Rocket Science

I’ll probably add more to this later as they come in. If Spoons turns out to be totally wrong about all of this, I’ll drop the links.


  1. Over a year ago, I terminated a cell contract with my biggest and best pals at AllTel. AllTel’s service rep had neglected to fill in two critical blanks on the service contract when she completed it the day I was in the store. The first blank was the specific term of contract (length) in months, and the second was the amount I was to be charged (in dollars) if I terminatd the contrct early. Subsequently, when I terminated our open ended no penalty cell service agreeement, AllTel charged me over $250.00 and turned me into a collection agancy and credit reporting service. Too make a long story short–I fought AllTell successfully two or three times; each time the collection agnecy and credit reporting service threw AllTel’s false claims back at them. AllTel just went to another set of agencies to continue their harassment of me. Ultimately (and this may help Spoon) I filed a complaint with the Consumer Protection Division, of the Michigan Attorney General’s Office. Once the AG’s Office got on their trail, AllTel could read the writing on the wall and droped their claims (in writing) and called off the most recent collection agency and retracted the negative information, they’d smeared me with, from the credit reporting agency. Did we all live happily ever after? $%#* no! My last trip back to the states (Aug/Sept ’04) I find out allTell has renegged on their written agreement with the AG’s Office and me. I had to get the AG’s Office after them again (got the collection agncy called off again). I still haven’t received any response from AllTel to my inquriy about their reneging on their agreement, and I have to check with the credit reporting agnecy when I go back to MI in Jan ’05, to get my good credit rectified. Good luck Spoon! Stick to your guns and get your AG’s Consumer Protection Division (assuming your state has one) on their trail! The punks deserve it!

  2. I don’t see how Spoons could be wrong on the ‘letter’ of the contract if he’s OK with the spirit. In this case, it seems pretty clear that they (1) Spoons has substantially complied with the terms of the contract, while (2) U.S. Cellular is relying on a deliberately vague provision of a contract they drafted (3) to impose a fee that clearly amounts to a penalty rather than a good faith estimate of the damages they’ve suffered (which are none, given that he’s offered to pay every cent he owed under the original contract), (4) under circumstances that could rightly be deemed unconscionable. I’ve just identified four independent bases for my view that Spoons is right and US Cellular is wrong. Do you think all four of them are wrong? If so, why?

  3. Xrlq: The reason I worded it that way is that not only have I not seen the contract, Spoons no longer has it, either. I’m totally on Spoons’ side here UNLESS the contract spells out clearly that what Spoons did was a ‘termination’. Even then, of course, I find the $150 fee excessive and the behavior of the CS rep unforgivable. (1) Agreed 100%. That’s the ‘spirit’. (2) I think you’re right, though I haven’t seen the contract. That’s the ‘letter’. (3) Absolutely. This is why I’m willing to call ‘foul’ even though I don’t have all the facts. They’re looking for $150 simply because they think they’ll be able to sweat it out of him, not because they’ve suffered any sort of loss. (4) Yes, though I don’t expect things like a conscience to matter to entities like US Cellular. Even if the CEO gets wind of this and clears Spoons’ name, he won’t be doing it out of good conscience. He’ll be doing it to avoid looking bad to other customers and potential customers. That’s the closest big businesses with Boards of Directors and stockholders usually get to having a conscience. (<<< Yes, cynicism. But I've yet to see anything prove it wrong.) My sympathies are with Spoons in any case, as I think we've all been jerked around from time to time by exactly this sort of crap. I'm just a little hestitant to totally pile on and demand that Spoons get to keep his $150 simply because he's got the blogosphere backing him. I'd like to totally pile on and demand that Spoons get to keep his $150 BECAUSE HE'S CONTRACTUALLY ALLOWED TO DO SO and because he's got the blogosphere backing him. If the contract, in fact, spells out clearly that what Spoons did WAS a termination of the service, then I will redirect my energy (such that it is) to pointing out what I consider to be unfair terms in the contract that most US Cellular customers probably aren't even aware of and that US Cellular should probably consider revising the terms.

  4. My point was that all four of the objections I raised were legal ones, not just moral ones. Unless I’m wrong on all four counts (and on any others I may not have thought of off the top of my head), the contract is not just unreasonable, it’s also illegal. ‘A contract is a contract,’ but an illegal one isn’t.

  5. No arguments here. I’m not well-enoughed versed in the legal mumbo-jumo (as it sounds to me) to really know if this word-twisting on US Cellular’s part is illegal or not. But I do know that they’re being jerks about it.

  6. Just a note – the U.S. Cellular terms and agreements happen to be online – They state that a request to port service is a request to terminate the agreement. However, I also agree that this was not handled by the cs rep well… In my experience, U.S. Cellular is a very fair company and since another rep was contacted and overturned the original decision – I believe this is a case of one bad apple…