California Court ratifies takesies-backsies doctrine

Most people, when we sign a contract, we understand that we’re supposed to follow through with what we promise. Contracts are one of the pillars of our economy, without which we would have the mess you see in any lawless banana republic.

Alameda County, California is going bananas though, as a county Superior Court judge has ruled that wireless phone service providers may not enforce their contracts with customers, and people are free to wriggle out of them whenever they want, with no termination fee allowed.

Quoting the Mercury-News:

Californians fed up with being charged for ending their cell phone service prematurely won a major victory in a Bay Area court decision that concluded such fees violate state law.

In a preliminary ruling Monday, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Bonnie Sabraw said Sprint Nextel must pay California mobile-phone consumers $18.2 million as part of a class-action lawsuit challenging early termination fees.

Say goodbye to subsidized hardware, folks, if this ruling isn’t smacked down hard. I hope all the people who enjoyed getting an iPhone cheaply are ready their warmest regards to the the California courts if this forces AT&T to charge full price instead of giving you the hardware cheap with a commitment, because if this ruling is the future, that model just became impossible to sustain.