My small-claims court hearing with Sprint Nextel for the shafting I previously described was today. Sprint didn’t show up, and the clerk magistrate entered a default judgment in my favor. She said she was going to review the details of the complaint, which I provided to her in writing, and my other evidence, of which I provided copies, to arrive at a final settlement amount, about which I would be notified by mail. She seemed pretty convinced about my triple-damages claim, but only time will tell.
For the record, here’s the complaint details which I provided to her:
Trial Court of Massachusetts
Small Claims Session
Brighton District Court
Docket Number XXX
Trial Date: August 22, 2007
1) Plaintiff ordered cellular phone and service through Sprint Web site January 30, 2007.
2) Plaintiff decided after ordering phone, but before it arrived, that Sprint phone and service were no longer desired.
3) Defendant has “30-Day Risk-Free Guarantee” promising full refund for service canceled within 30 days of initiation. (evidence: copy of policy from defendant’s Web site)
4) Plaintiff called Sprint to ask how to cancel order, and was told to refuse delivery of package from UPS, after which package would be returned to Sprint and full refund would be issued.
5) Plaintiff refused package February 5. Package was returned to Sprint February 7. (evidence: tracking information from UPS Web site)
6) Over six months later, defendant still has not refunded cost of phone, $262.49, to defendant.
7) Defendant sent plaintiff letter asking for plaintiff to call defendant about service cancelation. Purpose of this call was only to give defendant opportunity to try to convince plaintiff not to cancel service (defendant’s agent referred to this letter as “retention letter” in subsequent phone conversation). Plaintiff sent back letter with notation demanding that account be canceled and refund issued without wasting any more of plaintiff’s time.
8) Defendant sent plaintiff four bills. Plaintiff sent back first two bills with notation demanding that account be closed and refund issued. Plaintiff refused delivery of third and fourth bills without opening them.
9) Plaintiff spent hours on phone with various Sprint representatives, attempting to get refund. Refund was promised by several different Sprint employees but never delivered.
10) Plaintiff disputed credit card charge with card issuer on March 15. Card issuer rejected dispute after contacting defendant, because defendant refused to confirm that phone had been returned. (evidence: copies of credit card statements with original charge, temporary credit and reversal highlighted)
11) Plaintiff sent defendant’s CEO complaint office letter on May 1, detailing all problems encountered by plaintiff and demanding full refund. (evidence: copy of letter)
12) Plaintiff received voicemail message from defendant on May 14. Caller identified himself as Tyrone, referenced case number XXX and telephone number 866-398-4606, and falsely claimed that plaintiff’s credit card had never been charged any money by defendant. (evidence: scratch paper on which this message was written down)
13) Defendant failed to respond in writing to plaintiff’s letter as required by MGL Chapter 93A.
14) Defendant failed to follow its own published refund policies; failed to keep multiple promises to issue refund; forced plaintiff to spend hours on phone unsuccessfully attempting to obtain refund; failed to initiate proper investigation to confirm return of phone when contacted by credit card issuer; and failed to initiate proper investigation and issue refund in response to plaintiff’s letter to CEO. Together, these failures are sufficiently egregious to constitute violation of MGL Chapter 93A.
15) Defendant’s failure to issue refund was clearly willful and knowing. Defendant clearly knew, or should have known, that plaintiff was entitled to the refund being demanded. In particular:
15a) Defendant was notified in writing on at least six separate occasions of plaintiff’s demand for a refund:
15a.1) Defendant’s “retention letter” was returned by plaintiff with a notation demanding a refund.
15a.2) Plaintiff returned two service bills with notifications demanding a refund.
15a.3) Phone and associated written documentation were returned to defendant after plaintiff refused their delivery.
15a.4) Plaintiff sent written demand letter to defendant.
15a.5) Credit card issuer notified defendant in writing of dispute filed by plaintiff.
15b) Plaintiff also notified defendant about the required refund by telephone on multiple occasions.
15c) Defendant’s agents with whom plaintiff spoke by phone were able to confirm through examination of records in defendant’s internal computer systems that plaintiff’s credit card was charged.
15d) Defendant’s normal business practice is to charge customers’ credit cards when phones are shipped to them.
16) Plaintiff demands damages as follows:
262.49 cost of phone 1.17 postage for letters and bills from plaintiff to defendant 2.45 printing and duplication costs (see par. 16a) sub. 266.11 532.22 trebled damages under MGL 93A sub. 798.33 51.83 12% statutory interest (see par. 16b) sub. 850.16 40.00 filing fee TOTAL 890.16
16a) 4 pages for letter sent to Sprint; 9 pages Chapter 93A research; 12 x 3 = 36 for filing copies for plaintiff, defendant and court. 9 + 4 + 36 = 49 pages; at 49 pages x $0.05 per page = $2.45.
16b) interest is 12% per annum, calculated from date of breach, as per MGL Chapter 231 Section 6C. Date of breach is February 7, 2007, when phone was returned to defendant and defendant should have issued refund but didn’t. 196 days elapsed between date of breach and trial date. $798.33 x 196 / 365.25 x 0.12 = $51.83.