updated 12/23/2003 7:18:12 PM ET 2003-12-24T00:18:12

Cell phone companies are free to offer whatever deals they want to consumers, even if some customers end up with better deals than others, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected a complaint from a Cleveland-area woman, Jacqueline Orloff, who said Verizon Wireless practiced discrimination by offering other customers special deals that she didn't get.

Those offers _ including free minutes, free voice mail or a credit _ were offered by salespeople to consumers who pushed for better offers.

"Haggling is a normal feature of many competitive markets," a unanimous three-judge panel of the appeals court said. "It allows consumers to get the full benefit of competition by playing competitors against each other. Here Verizon has adopted the practice as a competitive marketing strategy."

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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