U.S. Cellular must now clearly disclose the terms of "free" offer promotions in a settlement with the Oregon attorney general.

U.S. Cellular must now clearly disclose the terms of "free" offer promotions in a settlement with the Oregon attorney general.

Consumers complained to the Oregon Department of Justice that U.S. Cellular misled them during promotions that promised free cellular phones. The promotions failed to inform customers that to get the "free'' phones they had to purchase certain services and would be reimbursed for the phones through a rebate program, Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers said in a new release.

"Consumers also complained to the Department of Justice that cellular phone 'minutes' were routinely accumulated as users accessed neighboring U.S. Cellular cell towers for service, but not reported until the following month," according to the release.

This led consumers to believe they had more ''minutes'' available to them than they actually had, the report said.

U.S. Cellular agreed to accept an Assurance of Voluntarily Compliance (AVC) filed by the Oregon Office of the Attorney General. By doing so U.S. Cellular admits no law violations, according to the release.

Attempts to reach U.S. Cellular officials for comment were unsuccessful late Friday.

The settlement named the Medford-based United States Cellular Operation Company, which is a U.S. Cellular subsidiary.

"Consumers need to know exactly what they are getting into when they accept any type of product promotion," Myers wrote. "Today's agreement ensures that cellular customers will clearly understand their rights as consumers and that these promotions are fair."

Consumers wanting information about this settlement or consumer protection information in general may call the Attorney General's office toll-free at 1-877-877-9392 or visit the Oregon Department of Justice online at www.doj.state.or.us.