Google has cut a fee charged to users who cease using its Nexus One smartphone before four months from $350 to $150, making it somewhat more palatable for users dissatisfied with the device to put it down.
Not long after Google began selling the Nexus One from its own Webstore Jan. 5, bloggers who read the terms of sale page noticed Google vowed to charge users who ceased using the device early a $350 Equipment Recovery Fee.
Consumers who bought a subsidized Nexus One for $179 through T-Mobile and canceled the contract before 120 days must pay Google an Equipment Recovery Fee in addition to the $200 Early Termination Fee they would pay to T-Mobile.
A Google spokesperson explained to eWEEK that the ERF is a way to recoup its investment because it subsidizes the devices purchased with T-Mobile service.
"This is standard practice for third-party resellers of T-Mobile and other operators, and you will find similar policies for other mobile service resellers," the spokesperson said.
The slash in the ERF popped up on the Nexus One terms of sale Web page.
""You agree to pay Google an equipment subsidy recovery fee (the "Equipment Recovery Fee") in the event you cancel or downgrade your wireless plan within 120 days of activation of wireless service. If you activate a new line of service with T-Mobile, your Equipment Recovery Fee will be $150 USD if you cancel or downgrade your service plan within 120 days of activation. If you are upgrading an existing line of service with T-Mobile, your Equipment Recovery Fee will be $50 USD if you cancel or downgrade your service within 120 days of activation.""
The move also comes in the wake of a broad probe into ETFs by the Federal Communications Commission.
The FCC Jan. 26 sent letters to AT&T, Google, Sprint and T-Mobile asking how ETFs are charged and if consumers are adequately informed of the ETFs. Verizon Wireless first sparked the FCC's interest in ETFs Nov. 15 when it was disclosed the wireless carrier would double the penalty fees to $350 for certain subscribers who leave their contracts early.
Meanwhile, spotty 3G is one reason Nexus One users might cite as reason to void their contracts with Google and T-Mobile. Google is pushing out a software fix for this to the Android 2.1 operating system on the device.
To help mediate the 3G service and other complaints, Google expanded its service for the Nexus One to include phone support in addition to online help. TMO News reported that 888-48-NEXUS (63987) is now live from Google and open from 7 a.m. EST to 10 p.m. EST daily.
Sales of smartphones based on Google's Android OS are looking up, according to comScore. The researcher said U.S. marketshare for Android is now 5.2 percent, rising 2.7 percentage points in December 2009. Attribute that growth to strong sales of the Motorola Droid, which has sold hundreds of thousands of units since November.
Android could well push past Palm, which dropped to 6.1 percent from 8.3 percent in September, in the next comScore survey. RIM was the leading mobile smartphone os with 41.6 percent share of U.S. smartphones. Apple was No. 2 with 25.3 percent share, followed by Microsoft with 18.0 percent of the market.