Second, here’s the rant. A DROID retails for 600 dollars. I paid two hundred for mine. Verizon makes up that 400 bucks by me subscribing to their service. If I open a new line for a DROID and immediately cancel it, VZW charges me 350 dollars. They're out fifty bucks. The ETF needs to be that high for Verizon to protect themselves from staggering losses. It not only covers most of their loss if I terminate my contract, but also discourages me from doing so. Not much "investigation" to be done there. Mignon Clyburn needs to learn some basic economics.
Also, this is not a "hidden fee." You know when you signup for a plan that the ETF is huge. If you don't like it, go to AT&T and be part of "the world's fastest 3G network." Verizon is overall the best mobile carrier for smartphones. If you want a good selection of devices, a comprehensive data network and an equally-comprehensive online user portal, you're going to pay more than you would for an outdated network, an iPhone and an orange box store.
Bottom line: Verizon isn't doing anything shady, and no one's being forced into a contract. If you don't like having an enormous ETF by which the carrier could still potentially take a loss, maybe a you shouldn’t have a phone that’s smarter than you.
My question is: how do other carriers protect themselves from this kind of crippling loss of money? Some carriers do it by selling their subscriber information to law-enforcement agencies. Some do it by holding on to their customers with misleading advertising.
The FCC needs to stop demonizing legitimate business practices and get on to important issues. For example: the obsolescence of the FCC. Anybody else remember the whole “Saving Private Ryan” debacle (in which, when asked by ABC affiliates “will we be fined if we air Saving Private Ryan un-edited?” the FCC’ responded: “dunno. Do it and you’ll find out.”)?