Google sure has picked up the tricks of screwing their customers pretty quick

Google is still at the babe in the woods stage when it comes to the cellphone err smartphone err superphone business. While it might might be nice to chalk up reports of lousy customer support to lack of experience in the field that excuse won’t last long in the real world of the cutthroat telecommunication business.

It also appears that they have learned one lesson really quick though – screwing their customers.

You see in the cellphone business there is this little handy dandy clause stuck in most service contracts that allow the company to charge you what is termed an Early Termination Fee (ETF) if you decided to cancel your account with them. The reason for the fee is to recover the cost of the cellphone that the company loses when you sign up and get a discounted phone.

Depending on the company raping charging you that ETF can range from $50 to $200 and for the most part is pretty understandable. So it would be understandable if Google was also to charge the same type of ETF except they’ve decided to go one better.

You see in the find print Google will also charge you an “equipment recovery fee” on top of the ETF. As Kent German at CNET explains it:

The Nexus One, of course, is no exception to this rule. If you cancel your T-Mobile contract after the 14-day grace period, you’ll have to shell out anywhere from $50 to $200 depending on when you cancel. That’s all well and good, but a close look at Google’s terms of sale reveals that Google also slaps you with a hefty fee of its own.

According to the document, Nexus One buyers who purchase the phone at the subsidized price of $179 will be liable for an “equipment recovery fee” if the end their contract between the end of the grace period and the first 120 days of service. You read that correctly, you could be forced to pay $550 if for terminating early.

According to the terms of sale, “the equipment recovery fee is not a penalty but is for liquidated damages Google will incur as a result of such cancellation.” It goes on to say, “these damages may include, but are not limited to, loss of compensation and administrative costs associated with such cancellation or changing of wireless service provider(s), market changes, and changes in ownership.”

And this from the company that promises to do no evil. Boy are they learning quick.