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Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)

LOS ANGELES – A consumer watchdog group sued two cellular-phone companies, alleging they take advantage of customers and have violated state consumer-protection laws.

The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights filed a lawsuit Tuesday in California Superior Court against Nextel Communications Inc., saying the company stopped issuing itemized bills Oct. 1, making it difficult for consumers to challenge charges.

The foundation also alleged that Nextel sent four text messages to all California customers on Sept. 12, charging them 15 cents for each message. Without an itemized bill, consumers may not notice the extra charges, the foundation said.

The foundation asked the court to issue an injunction against Nextel and is seeking to reimburse customers who were overcharged.

A spokesman for Reston, Va.-based Nextel did not return a call seeking comment.

The organization also filed suit against Cingular Wireless, accusing the company of pushing for new customers through its advertising but then providing inadequate service to them. That suit seeks class-action status.

Consumer Watchdog
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