Minn. attorney general sues Sprint Nextel

The company allegedly renewed contracts without cutsomer consent.

Anthony Carranza

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson filed a lawsuit against Sprint Nextel in Hennepin County District Court Sept. 27, alleging the company unlawfully renewed contracts without customers’ consent.

Sprint Nextel violated Minnesota protection laws such as the Consumer Fraud Act and the Deceptive Practices Act, according to a news release from Swanson’s office.

Attorney general spokesman Brian Bergson said cell phone companies are no strangers to lawsuits.

“We received hundreds of complaints from consumers regarding their contracts being extended,” Bergson said.

He also said there were 30,000 complaints filed against Sprint Nextel in the past year and a half.

Sprint Nextel spokesman Matt Sullivan said the information presented does not reflect the company’s practices.

“We’re disappointed that the information in the attorney general’s complaints does appear to contain misinformation,” he said, regarding how the lawsuit relates to Sprint Nextel business practices.

The University has Sprint Nextel listed as a potential discounted vendor for faculty on its Web site.

There has been dialogue between the University and the cell phone provider to extend the discount to students, which began this fall, University technology professional Justin Halverson said.

“We cannot decide anything yet since the lawsuit is in the lawyers’ hands,” he said.

University spokesman Dan Wolter said he learned of the lawsuit on the evening news, and students who have Sprint Nextel service need to monitor the evolution of the case.

“I encourage students to be very mindful of the contracts that they are signing up for and learn if they have been taken advantage of,” Wolter said.

He said students should examine the claims of the lawsuit to verify if anything has changed in their contracts.

It’s unclear whether the lawsuit will impact negotiations between the University and Sprint Nextel.

Katie Fortier, a psychology senior, said she has been a Sprint Nextel customer for two years.

“I am not aware of my contract (being) changed,” she said. “I would be surprised if they renewed my contract; if that is the case, I would go to the store and complain.”

If her contract is renewed without her consent, Fortier said she would definitely cancel her Sprint Nextel service.

It’s illegal to renew customers’ contracts without their consent, said associate professor of clinical law Prentiss Cox.

Generally, both parties must reach cell phone contract renewal agreement.

“The dispute is usually involving consent to contracts,” Cox said. “If everyone agrees that there was no consent (to renew the contract), then it violates the law.”