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Waive early termination fees for jobless

Consumer advocates are asking cell phone companies to waive early termination fees for customers who lose their jobs.

The Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition is among the consumer groups that signed a letter today to AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint Nextel, the Wireless Association and Verizon.

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According to the consumer groups, the termination fees can cost as much as $150 per line. So families might have to pay several hundred dollars or more if breadwinners are laid off.

"Cell phones can play a vital role in people's lives, but consumers who are in perilous financial situations should not be penalized for their efforts to trim their expenses and get their household budgets in line," says Charles Shafer, president of the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition in a prepared statement. "We urge the wireless industry to waive the ETF's for those who have lost their jobs."

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So, do you think cell phone companies will budge?

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