Sprint’s Flex Lease program is the subject of a class action that alleges the company has deceived consumers into paying “significantly more” than their devices are worth despite promising low monthly costs.
Sprint’s Flex Lease program is the subject of a proposed class action that alleges the company has deceived consumers into paying “significantly more” than their devices are worth despite promising low monthly costs.
The 36-page lawsuit alleges that although defendant Sprint Corporation’s Flex Lease program purportedly allows a consumer to buy a smartphone through low monthly payments, and provides the option to cancel the contract after a set time period, buyers, in reality, pay significantly more than the value of their devices as a result of ongoing monthly charges from Sprint after the lease terms end. In other scenarios, Flex Lease program participants are required by Sprint to make additional payments at the end of their initial lease term if they want to own their device, or may be unable to cancel the program after termination of the lease period despite attempting to do so, the case alleges.
“Without a realistically available option to own their Devices or cancel their leases, customers are left paying to lease their Devices indefinitely,” the complaint claims, alleging violations of California’s Unfair Competition Law and Consumers Legal Remedies Act.
According to the suit, Flex Lease customers have reported being told at or around the initiation of their agreement with Sprint that they would be notified when they were nearing the end of the plan period and informed at that time of their options. Per the complaint, “numerous customers” have claimed they were never notified, either before or after the exhaustion of their initial Flex Lease plan, that they had the option to pay off their device at the end of the lease term, leading the consumers to “continue making monthly payments indefinitely.”
Other customers who’ve notified Sprint after the end of their leases that they want to own their devices have reported that they were “unaware or misled” when they learned their ongoing monthly payments were not applied to the price to own their devices, meaning they were required to make even more payments to own their smartphones, the lawsuit alleges. This has led consumers to pay Sprint amounts “well over the value of the Devices—after consumers have already paid their full value,” according to the suit.
Moreover, customers who attempt to cancel their Flex Lease contracts with Sprint find their efforts are “intentionally frustrated” by the defendant, the case alleges. From the complaint:
“Customers who call to exercise their option of paying off their Devices or cancelling their leases by returning their phones are sent to the website, and customers who have gone to the website to pay off their Devices are asked to call or use the chat function. Customers have reported being sent to confusing webpages where the links to purchase the Devices are hidden, or receiving emails from Sprint that are sent by a third-party, such as ‘InfoRequest,’ and thus overlooked. Customers have had issues with contacting Sprint’s customer service, being told they would receive a call back that never came. Customers have also been forced to wait on hold on a call or in the chat function for lengthy wait times.”
Further still, Flex Lease customers have also run up against Sprint’s “refusal” to accept devices for return, even if they have minimal wear, or been told that they were ineligible to take the buyout option, the suit alleges. Others, according to the case, have been told they were a “poor credit risk,” making them ineligible for upgrade and leaving the customers with only the options to pay the buyout costs or continue to rent their device from Sprint.
At issue is that Flex Lease customers, at the time of purchase, are not clearly informed of their end-of-lease options, such that they’re not advised that they will have to pay an additional amount to own their devices as a “remaining balance” once all other requirements for the program have been fulfilled, the case claims. Those who attempt to understand the terms of their Flex Lease plans at a later date are unable to find the pertinent details of the options available to them, and contacting Sprint is the equivalent of running up against a brick wall, the suit relays.
“Customers who contact Sprint seeking to understand the terms of their Flex Lease are left further confused because they are told conflicting information about their end-of-lease options,” according to the case.
The suit looks to represent all persons or entities in the United States who bought or leased one or more mobile devices under the Sprint Flex Lease Program.
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