Vanishing Credit and Hidden Fees

Unused Tracfone Minutes Expire 90 Days After Purchase

Disclosure to Consumers Buried in Pop-up Window Fine Print

hidden fees resized 600The New York Times reports that Tracfone, a poplular seller of prepaid cellular phones, which offers pay-as-you-go minutes without contracts, has enaged in an arguably deceptive sales practice involving expiring minutes.  The Times consumer column, The Haggler, reports that unused Tracfone minutes will expire, if unused, in 90 days from the date of purchase.  Tracfone reportedly conceals the terms of this early expiration in fine print which appears in a pop-up window on the company’s website during the checkout process. Click here for the NYT article.

Life Imitates Seinfeld

The Haggler describes a classic Seinfeld scene in which “Jerry has been bumped from the lineup of Career Day speakers at his junior high school”:

JERRY It was a mix-up, I’m sure.

KRAMER They’re trying to screw with your head.

JERRY Now, why would a junior high school want to screw with my head?

KRAMER Why does Radio Shack ask for your phone number when you buy batteries? I don’t know.

Following The Haggler’s investigation of Tracfone’s expiring minutes practice on behalf of one affected consumer, Tracfone reportedly continues the same practice of having unused minutes expire but made the disclosure more conspicuous.

Hidden fees or vanishing credit practices are common.  We frequently pursue cases on behalf of consumers against businesses who have unfair and deceptive business practices for charging hiden fees or take away credit or value from a consumer without fair notice.

Does Tracfone’s reported improvement to the disclosure fix the problem? Do you consider Tracfone’s expiring minutes practice to be fair or, as Kramer said, do you believe that they “want to screw with your head”?

Our experienced consumer justice attorneys pursue hidden fee, vanishing credit and deceptive sales cases.  Click below and find out how we can help.

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