Consumer advocacy group files complaint with the FCC over T-Mobile's "deceptive advertising"

Consumer advocacy group files complaint with the FCC over T-Mobile's
A consumer advocacy group titled Change to Win Retail Initiatives, comprised of  three labor unions, has filed a complaint with the FCC over what they claim is deceptive advertising by T-Mobile. Backed by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Service Employees International Union and the United Farm Workers of America, the group is asking the FCC to investigate the carrier and to take the necessary "corrective action."

The group says that T-Mobile's advertising is misleading and points to the mobile operator's claim that its subscribers aren't signing a contract. But the consumer advocacy group points out that T-Mobile's no-contract plans require purchasing equipment through the use of monthly installment payments. Subscribers can also opt to lease a phone through T-Mobile by making installment payments each month.

Either way, the consumer group notes that if a subscriber decides to cancel his service with the carrier, he is still responsible to pay off the balance remaining on the phone. That amount, says Change to Win, is usually more than the Early Termination Fee that is charged to contracted subscribers who leave a carrier before their two-years are up.

Speaking about the Early Termination Fee, the consumer advocacy group is upset about T-Mobile's statement in its ads that says it will pay the ETF of Verizon, Sprint and AT&T customers who break a contract in order to join T-Mobile. The pro-consumer group says that subscribers of those other operators leaving for T-Mobile are paying the ETF out of their own pockets, and have to wait as long as eight weeks to get reimbursed. In some cases, Change to Win claims that the consumer never received the reimbursement from T-Mobile leading to a drop in the consumer's credit score.

But the biggest issue that the advocacy group has with T-Mobile has to do with add-on services offered by the carrier. These include phone insurance plans, upgrades to unlimited data plans, or equipment leasing plans. Change to Win states that T-Mobile reps are under pressure to sign subscribers up for these additional services, and says that they were told by the operator's reps that they are "pushed" to get 90% of new subscribers to add these services. 

Change to Win is blaming this pressure for the reason why some subscribers are surprised to discover that they have been paying for add-on services that they say they didn't request. And these customers report that it is very difficult to get T-Mobile to cancel the unauthorized services.  Nell Geiser, Change to Win's research director, said, "Employees are under a lot of pressure to reach these targets by encouraging them to enroll as many people as possible in these programs, so it's not a surprise if people [are] being signed up for services they didn't authorize or want."

Neither T-Mobile or the FCC have commented on the letter. Late last year, the same advocacy group lodged a similar complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. At that time, T-Mobile CEO John Legere sent out a response from his Twitter account that said, "We stand by our ad! Contrary to the click-bait headline, we haven't been accused of false advertising by any regulatory body." Last month, the New York Attorney General said that he was investigating T-Moble's advertising.

Led by Legere, T-Mobile has gone from being an afterthought in the industry to becoming an innovator whose customer-friendly initiatives are often copied by the competition. These include Music Freedom and Binge On, which allow subscribers to stream music and video from certain providers without it counting against the customer's monthly data allowance. T-Mobile also brought rollover data to the industry with Data Stash, and was the first of the four major carriers to eliminate subsidized phone sales and two-year contracts.

source: CNET

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23 Comments

1. Justlooking

Posts: 84; Member since: Aug 27, 2014

There are no service contracts. You can buy a device full price and have no instalment payments. Add on services can be removed by logging in to your account. The only people that feel mislead are the ones that don't know how to read .

5. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 2010

Techncially it is a service contract, because if you cancel the service, the whole remaining charge of the device is billed. If the payments for the phone itself went as normal and wasn't tied to the specific contract, you'd have a point, but that is not how it is handled.

20. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

How's is it tied to a contract? Giving you the option to pay it slowly instead of paying it off in full is no contract. You're not tied into anything and you only pay for the phone balance, not some other nonsense fees. If you chose to end your plan with them before paying off your phone in full, you pay off the remaining price of the phone. Simple. Or were you dumb enough to think they're giving you the phone for free?

25. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

No one is forcing you to buy their phone. Nor are they forcing you to do so in installment plans. I have TMO, I have 12 lines, only 1 is a tmo phone, the rest are international or unlocked. My unlocked ATT phone gets upwards of 60+Mbps in some areas. And actually TMO did have a plan that you could pay off the phone and move on, it was something like plan for life, offered through apple and tmo. So they did do this, but wasn't for all phones.

21. engineer-1701d unregistered

i understand what they are talking about but thats all carriers, and why dont they get real jobs working and not bitching about stuff, if i leave sprint they pay for the phone i had and i got my 350 etf debit card but if i change again to verizon why should they pay my etf and lose money deceptive people as well.

3. JMartin22

Posts: 2369; Member since: Apr 30, 2013

So what would this advocacy group prefer if customers terminated their contract and the mobile operator paid off the portion of the phone the sinscriber didn't bother with?

4. djcody

Posts: 227; Member since: Apr 17, 2013

That group are big idiots. You need purchase cello phone for cash. T Mobil give you a option too use monthly payments

12. Bernoulli

Posts: 4359; Member since: Sep 01, 2012

That English though.

16. JunitoNH

Posts: 1946; Member since: Feb 15, 2012

Before calling names, check your spelling.

7. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 2010

T-Mobile defense force in full swing. If it was any other carrier accused of it, they would get bickered on. Especially if that carrier was Sprint.

13. greyarea

Posts: 267; Member since: Aug 14, 2015

If it was another carrier they might have actually been trying to put one over on the customer. People will come to the defense of companies that have treated them fairly, sorry that offends your tmob hate train.

8. applesnapple93

Posts: 302; Member since: Jan 06, 2016

I'd say their "deceptive advertising" is claiming that their coverage covers 304 of 308mil verizon LTE customers. or that their service is even comparable to AT&T or Verizon. Their coverage maps are BS. Theres a dead zone that caused tmobile to release my contract 9 years ago to switch to verizon because we couldnt make a 911 call at a sporting event. That dead zone is still there despite what their map says...

23. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

and that zone is?

28. cfprelude

Posts: 140; Member since: Oct 27, 2011

lol - did you just say you stopped using tmo 9yrs ago and you are talking about their coverage!?!?!?! lmao. and yes they can claim that because their coverage is best in dense areas.... its the 4million people in rural areas that tmobile hasnt focused on and they unfortunately have to stay with the overpriced carriers. but its been an excellent business model for tmobile. in the big cities its hard to beat their speed and coverage. ive got lines/users in orlando, tampa, and jacksonville and we couldnt be happier.

9. jerrycutshaw

Posts: 48; Member since: Apr 27, 2011

stop it with the "defense force comments" downphoenix. Its a sure sign you've lost an argument when you have to say "the other guy doesn't get treated that way". Your just trolling. There are no issues with the program. Tmobile gives me options the other carriers don't. If I were better with my money and didn't look at the newest phone and say "gimme, gimme!" I'd be paying full price when I WANT a new phone then I'd be truly contract free. As another poster pointed out whats the logical alternative. . .require the phone company pay for my phone that I HAD TO HAVE if I break my contract? This is not socialism someone has to pay that bill and it will be the consumer one way or another because Tmobile like any other business is out to make a profit not lose money. Profit is the reason we have these awesome new things. If no one made money no one bother working hard to out due the other guy. If you can't understand these simple economics I'm afraid you are just beyond reason. Why would a company like these Unions (socialism at its finest) seek to destroy a great program because they think its against the "spirit" of no contracts. Its beyond me!

11. bigsimpd

Posts: 163; Member since: Jan 13, 2012

yes tmobile service is crap putting it lightly they have to give you all these perks like sprint does because they're service is horrible my brother has it and he hates it and switching to Verizon screw tmobile fast speeds yea ok but crap coverage

14. TerryTerius unregistered

I suppose that depends on where you live. I've never had any issues with service with T Mobile. Then again, I stray between 40 minutes outside ATL, to within the city proper on a daily basis.

15. xtroid2k

Posts: 601; Member since: Jan 11, 2010

I have been saying this for years. John legere is a marketing genious. He understands people dont like certain verbage. Switch up a few words and there ya go. But the issue resides in how most consumers aquire handsets in the US. Your average Joe will walk into carrier store or authorized retailer and then pick a phone. What T-Mobile should do is provide information on how the customer can truly take advantage of its services. Show customers that you can buy a phone else where and activate a line. Customers need hands held all the time! Personally I think this is stupid and im sure Big RED and ATT have a relationship with the advocacy group. Someone is lining someones pockets nicely. But deceptive practices, no. its clearly stated: prople got to read thats all!!!

17. JunitoNH

Posts: 1946; Member since: Feb 15, 2012

And...........while they are at it, tell the judge to check that map. Too many places don't get service, but the map says otherwise.

24. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

Their map is a live map, and used verified data from speedtest.net so if you see a speed rating when you check the map, it was because a customer in the last 48hrs tested their phone.

18. talon95

Posts: 994; Member since: Jul 31, 2012

If it's deceptive then it should be changed. But let's be honest, T-Mobile is the only carrier doing anything whatsoever to improve the industry. In 6 years Verizon didn't give me a single thing that I didn't pay a ripoff for. I'm on the mountain in Whistler and getting stronger and faster coverage than Verizon in the US. T-mobile is giving me calling and all my data in a foreign country. It's fricken awesome! They deserve a lot a credit.

19. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

Move to Canada and there won't be any of these nonsense lawsuits against you T-Mobile. Bring your service where it'll be most appreciated. Forget all those unappreciative lawsuit trolls...

26. SkyfallWalker

Posts: 73; Member since: Jan 28, 2016

T-Mobile will clean this mess up. They're good at it.

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