Rome, NY Sucks

But At Least We're Not Utica

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Cell Hell

Upstate Blog brought the insanity of New York car leases to my attention. Today, I heard about a new regulatory mess. Assemblyman Daniel J. O'Donnell (of New York City, of course) along with the AARP, wants to pass regulations on the cell phone providers to protect old people who don't understand complicated business practices like paying a phone bill. A story at Yahoo shows that O'Donnell wants to make carriers provide a list of future charges, a map, submit to a government resolution system and let the buyer cancel the contract after the first bill.

I'm not entirely against all the ideas in the bill, but it might be better if they were voluntary. The AARP sells credit cards, insurance and other products to their members. Maybe they can hook up with a carrier who will provide all that information. The thing I find idiotic is the right of refusal after the first bill.

People sign these contracts for a reason. If they stop paying, they get a termination fee and have to pay for their phones. I predict the first result of this regulation will be saying bye-bye to free phones. A lot of other paperwork fees will likely be added on, giving government what it wants; people tied to land lines and paying government charges and fees. Notice the state never mails you a breakdown of where your tax money goes.

Most of all, I object to regulation over information. If you don't want unforeseen charges, get a prepaid phone. Most of them let you pay up a year in advance if you like. In fact, it's the perfect object for the "emergency" user. Coverage maps are on carrier websites. Even if you don't have a computer, have the seller put it up on their computer. And if you're buying your cell phone from a mall kiosk I have no sympathy for you.


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