Ever since the D.C. Attorney General's office filed a lawsuit against District-based wireless phone and service retailer InPhonic Inc. last June, I have received a steady stream of e-mails from unhappy InPhonic customers. Well, looks like the company, while not admitting to wrongdoing, has settled with the city. It has agreed to pay D.C. $100,000 and make restitution to some 9,000 customers nationwide.
Just to recap the case against InPhonic: The DC AG alleged the company failed to deliver on its rebates.
To plagiarize my own June 2006 Post story for a second here:
For example, the suit alleges that for customers to qualify for some rebates, InPhonic in 2004 required them to submit a cellphone bill that was at least 120 days old -- to prove that they had stayed with their plan and made their payments. But the document had to be postmarked within 120 days of when the service was activated.
Consumers who contacted the company for help found themselves in phone tree hell or talking to people who were not helpful, the AG's lawsuit said.
The upshot was that most of the consumers who purchased wireless phones and plans through InPhonic either never received them or only after jumping through an onerous set of hoops.
The company managed to pile up more than 3,400 complaints between the D.C. AG's office and the local Better Business Bureau.
InPhonic has always denied doing anything wrong and has been eager to put the lawsuit behind it. In fact, the company jumped the gun a bit in November, announcing that it had reached an agreement in principle with the city. But negotiations were still ongoing at the time and I guess it took a couple more months to iron out the details.
What are the details? Well, for starters, two types of consumers are eligible for restitution:
1. Anyone who complained to a government agency or BBB anywhere in the U.S. by Feb. 15, 2007.
2. Anyone whose rebates were denied by InPhonic for any of the following four reasons:
a. The consumer failed to provide the "Guide for Wireless Service."
b. The consumer failed to provide a carrier invoice with a bill date.
c. The consumer failed to provide an order number on their rebate submission.
d. The consumer's rebate submission was missing customer information.
Consumers who are eligible should be receiving a claim form within the next five months. More info about the restitution effort will be available soon from the claims administrator at www.inphonicrestitutionprogram.com. (This link doesn't work yet.)
Consumers with questions should call the AG's Consumer Protection Hotline at (202) 442-9828.
InPhonic customers, please let us know what the restitution entails. (Cash, free ear buds, InPhonic swag, etc.)
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Posted by: Steve | February 16, 2007 9:17 AM
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