New York City Sues Nextel, Sprint, T-Mobile Over Ads

City officials claim that wireless operators make misleading pricing promises in their ads.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

July 22, 2005

1 Min Read

New York City's Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Thursday said it is suing Nextel, Sprint and T-Mobile over deceptive advertising that it said could mislead consumers.

"You can't promise a great deal in the headline and hide the true costs in the fine print," DCA Acting Commissioner Jonathan Mintz said in a statement. "If a cell phone company promises free long distance, consumers should get free long distance - period. While clamoring for competitive consumer attention, these major cell phone companies crossed the clear line between promotional gimmicks and deceptive advertising."

Specifically, the DCA says that the vendors violated the city's Consumer Protection Law. The agency previously had similar charges against Verizon Wireless and AT&T Wireless, which has since been acquired by Cingular. Those cellular operators settled with the city, agreeing to comply with the law.

The agency provided some details about its accusations. For instance, it claims that Nextel advertised that, "All incoming calls are free." However, in small print, the operator noted that there would be an additional access charge.

Similarly, it said that Sprint advertised "nationwide long distance included, every minute, every day." However, in the small print at the bottom of the add, the operator noted that there would be additional charges. It also said that T-Mobile advertised free long distance and roaming in the headline of the ad but that the small type acknowledged limitations to that claim.

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