From Milt Bowling:
UPDATE: Consumer Groups Warn Public of Cell Phone Industry Tactics; Aronstein Statement, AARP New York State Director
6/15/2006 4:28:00 PM
To: State Desk
Contact: David Irwin, 518-447-6723; Bill Ferris, 518-447-6712
NEW YORK, June 15 /U.S. Newswire/ — Following is a statement by Lois Aronstein, AARP New York state director:
The cell phone industry is working hard in the final days of the legislative session to keep New Yorkers from the consumer protections they deserve. In fact, Mywireless.org is even soliciting community-based consumer and senior organizations to join their “grassroots” efforts to defeat the Cell Phone Consumer Protection Act. They also recently released a poll to state legislators claiming that, if passed, consumer protection legislation will hurt consumers and seniors.
Mywireless.org is an organization created and funded by the nation’s largest cell phone companies. In fact, mywireless.org’s office in Washington DC is located in the same office as the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA), the cell phone industry’s trade association and lobbying arm. CTIA and its member cell phone companies are doing everything in their power to defeat the legislation which will provide cell phone consumer protections to New Yorkers.
Passing the legislation will make the industry more competitive and responsive to consumers. For example, the bill lengthens the trial period for cell phone purchasers so they won’t get caught in lengthy contracts prior to seeing their first bill. The bill also requires cell phone companies to improve their coverage maps and to disclose all hidden fees and surcharges.
Attached is a letter signed by New York State’s leading consumer organization that is being sent to community-based organizations statewide alerting them to beware of solicitations for support from Mywirless.org. AARP is urging New York legislators to stand up to the industry and deliver the cell phone consumer protections we need and deserve.
(An AARP survey of New York cell phone consumers can be found on-line at:
NOTE TO EDITORS: Adds Michael Burgess to list who signed letter
Please be alerted to the fact that an organization you have probably never heard of, Mywireless.org, is circulating a memo asking organizations to oppose the NYS Wireless Consumer Protection Act and peddling a poll that purports to represent consumers’ attitudes on the need for cell phone consumer protections.
Mywireless.org is an organization created and funded by the nation’s largest cell phone companies. In fact, their office in Washington DC is located in the same office as Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA ) the cell phone industry’s trade association and lobbying arm.
Please don’t be fooled by the claims or materials of this organization. Well-known and respected consumer groups such as Consumers Union, NYPIRG, the Public Utility Law Project, and AARP NY have been working with legislators for three years to pass this legislation. We strongly support this legislation and urge you to do the same.
This consumer protection legislation would:
— Allow cell phone consumers to cancel their cell phone contracts 15 days after they receive their first bill without paying a penalty;
— Require cell phone companies to provide more accurate coverage maps of where cell phones will work including the E 911 emergency features; and
— Require companies to disclose to consumers all fees and charges that go with buying a phone.
This legislation is needed and the public supports it.
1. The cell phone industry now outpaces used car dealers with the most complaints registered nationally, according to the Better Business Bureau.
2. The New York State Consumer Protection Board logged over 3,700 complaints about telephone and cellular phone billing and services, ranking it the industry with the second most complaints in 2003.
3. An AARP NY 2004 survey of New York residents age 18+ shows overwhelming support for the provisions of this bill. For example, nine out of ten New Yorkers surveyed support giving consumers the right to terminate their cell phone service up to fifteen days after receiving their first bill.
Unlike other organizations, we stake our reputations on the information we provide to legislators and the public. We have attached a copy of the complete poll released by AARP in 2004 showing strong support for the provisions of this legislation. The survey report is based on data from a telephone survey of 801 New York residents age 18 plus that was conducted from May 6 through May 17, 2004. The survey has a sampling error of plus/minus 3.5 percent.
We urge you to look with a skeptical eye upon any other polling on this issue and to consider the source of it.
Please call 1-800-869-5861 today and urge your legislators to pass this bill before the end of the legislative session in Albany.
Lois Aronstein, State Director, AARP NY
Russ Haven, Legislative Counsel, NYPIRG
Chuck Bell , Program Director, Consumers Union
Ben Wiles, Senior Attorney, Public Utility Law Project
Michael Burgess, Legislative Representative, New York Statewide Senior Action Council
/© 2006 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/