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Cellular leader faces breach of contract crisis with its customer

The government is not the only entity that runs into computer glitches and administrative disorganization when introducing a new program or system. Private companies can also experience the same kind of massive chaos at times of acute change. Additionally, in California and elsewhere, breach of contract is not a term reserved strictly for private business disputes: it can also apply to a retail seller's failure to honor its contracts with consumers.

That is the general condition with U.S. Cellular, one of the country's largest cellular phone carriers. The company introduced a billing system that was not "ready for prime time." The system didn't work correctly and issued incorrect bills for thousands of customers. In other cases, no bills were issued but were followed up later with incorrectly inflated balances said to be due. Others received notices with incorrect past due amounts.

With customers complaining bitterly, the company's executives have been apologizing profusely for the problems. The crisis comes at a time when the cellular leader cannot afford to have widespread billing and contract disputes with its customer base. In fact, the company has a planned roll-out of its new line of Apple products to be offered to the public this week.

With its billing system and trustworthiness open to question, the company has some quick work to do. Nonetheless, it's unclear whether consumers will feel secure enough to purchase the new I-phone and other products that require a two-year contract from a company mired in breach of contract disputes with its customers. Some experts, however, have opined that the company will face even more critical issues if it doesn't roll out the Apple line for consumers.

The company is late onboard because it did not want to meet Apple's strict monetary demands, according to industry observers. That failed decision was wisely discarded in the growing realization that the company must offer the latest technology to survive. All in all, breach of contract problems are not restricted, in California or elsewhere, to disputes strictly between business entities. They can overtake the operational matrix of a company if they involve massive failure to honor contractual obligations to the company's customers, regardless of whether this is caused by technological or financial limitations.

Source: Journal Sentinel, U.S. Cellular apologizes for billing problems, says company is ready for iPhone launch, Rick Barrett, Nov. 7, 2013

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