Letter to the Editor: Empty promises

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April 15, 2011

12:48 AM

When the earthquake and subsequent tsunami wracked Japan, many of us here at the College William and Mary were alarmed for our Japanese friends. As a student at the Marshall-Wythe School of Law, I had become friends with a student from Japan who had studied at the College last year and then returned. I was heartened by the declaration by all major United States cell phone carriers (including my own) that subscribers who texted and phoned to and from Japan would not incur any additional fees. I took advantage of this situation by calling and texting my friend in order to make sure that she was okay, which she was. I was less heartened to see a sizable item on my cell phone bill, asking for a significant surcharge for the privilege of having called and texted Japan. In my case, it took two phone calls to my carrier, Sprint, before the matter was cleared up. Other of my friends who have different carriers have yet to get their charges removed. As students, we have access to a world that is, now more than ever, truly interconnected. But what good is this if we cannot rely on the stated policy of our largest telecommunications corporations? It seems to me entirely unjust that a person who relies on the promise of a Fortune 500 company to provide free calls and texts to and from Japan, would have to expend great effort in wading through that company’s customer service in order to enforce that promise. The public, especially those who have family and friends in Japan, deserve much better.

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