MADISON, Wis. (WSAU) - A Wisconsin Rapids cell phone provider has agreed to repay customers who complained about service coverage and early termination fees.
Element Mobile will pay $248,000 under a settlement announced Wednesday by the state consumer protection department.
“Element Mobile had a rocky start, but we hope this settlement allows the company to move forward, become a strong Wisconsin business, and provide quality services to its customers," said Sandy Chalmers, the state's trade and consumer protection division administrator.
The state recorded 671 complaints against Element Mobile in 2011. Most of the complaints came between January and March of last year after Element took over service from Verizon, which had bought Alltel Wireless but abandoned the area.
“Element Mobile regrets any problems incurred by customers during the switchover period,” said Element chief operations officer Jerry Wilke. “We worked with the state to make sure anyone deserving reimbursement receives it.”
Element will repay or waive fees for customers who paid an early termination fee or who experienced service outages or interruptions. Element has also agreed to stop collection efforts on unpaid customers' bills it had sent to collection agencies. The company will also contact the nation's three credit reporting bureaus to have any negative credit information removed from customers' credit reports.
The state will contact affected customers within a few weeks with questionnaires to figure out how much they may be owed. Within four months of submitting the questionnaire, eligible consumers will receive releases from Element Mobile. These releases must be returned within 30 days in order to receive the adjustment.
Wilke says Element has since invested in new towers and equipment to improve coverage and signal quality and created a customer service management system to ensure higher service quality.
How to reach the state department of agriculture, trade and consumer protection:
Online at datcp.wisconsin.gov
By phone at 1-800-422-7128