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Marvin Campbell says he's stuck with an almost unusable cell phone.

"The phone doesn't work in my house. Okay, I go out in my yard, it doesn't work. I go out in the middle of the street," Campbell says.

When Campbell bought his phone from Cingular Wireless he was told the only so-called dead zones were in the mountain areas above Los Angeles - he didn't get rid of his cell phone because he had already established it as his business line, reports CBS News Correspondent Sandra Hughes.

"My biggest issue is they lied to me the day that I bought the phone, and they haven't stopped lying since. They will lie to you to sell a phone," Campbell said.

Consumer advocates have fought hard to eliminate this problem by
allowing cell phone users to dump a company giving them bad service while still keeping their cell phone number. It's called number portability, and on Nov. 24, it becomes law In major urban areas, cell phone companies must allow customers to take their numbers with them if they change plans.

The cell phone industry battled against portability - saying it would cost $1 billion to implement - and has been quietly charging consumers for future costs.

A study by the Center for Public Integrity found that since January 2002 companies have been slipping mysterious new fees - many for number portability - into the bills of 101 million customers to the tune of $629 million so far.

While figuring out all the charges and fees in a cell phone bill can make your head spin - at least you can try - unless you subscribe to nextel:

"As of Oct. 1, it unilaterally announced that it would no longer provide itemized cell phone charges on monthly bills," said Harvey Rosenfield of the Foundation for Taxpayer Rights.

And as Nextel goes, others may follow. Meaning cell phone customers won't be able to check for inaccurate billing without making a special request and in some cases paying another fee.
  • Dan Collins

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