overages Stories July 1, 2014

T-Mobile gets socked with an FTC complaint alleging the Uncarrier ‘Crammed Bogus Charges onto Customers’ Phone Bills’

It feels like just last month, TMobile CEO John Legere accused Verizon and AT&T of “raping” (ugh) its customers and that “the fuckers hate you”.

In a complaint filed today, the Federal Trade Commission is charging mobile phone service provider T-Mobile USA, Inc., with making hundreds of millions of dollars by placing charges on mobile phone bills for purported “premium” SMS subscriptions that, in many cases, were bogus charges that were never authorized by its customers…

The FTC alleges that T-Mobile received anywhere from 35 to 40 percent of the total amount charged to consumers for subscriptions for content such as flirting tips, horoscope information or celebrity gossip that typically cost $9.99 per month. According to the FTC’s complaint, T-Mobile in some cases continued to bill its customers for these services offered by scammers years after becoming aware of signs that the charges were fraudulent.

More in the PDF

Update: T-Mobile has responded publicly to the complaint saying it is being singled out…

We have seen the complaint filed today by the FTC and find it to be unfounded and without merit.  In fact T-Mobile stopped billing for these Premium SMS services last year and launched a proactive program to provide full refunds for any customer that feels that they were charged for something they did not want.  T-Mobile is fighting harder than any of the carriers to change the way the wireless industry operates and we are disappointed that the FTC has chosen to file this action against the most pro-consumer company in the industry rather than the real bad actors.

Full response here.

overages Stories April 14, 2014

T-Mobile says it will end domestic overages in May, petitions AT&T, Sprint, & Verizon to do the same

Following a number of new initiatives launched last week including its new Simple Starter plan and new perks for tablet users, T-Mobile issued a press release today calling for an end to overages and urging consumers to sign a petition for AT&T, Sprint and Verizon to do the same.

Traditional wireless plans start with a low monthly fee for a fixed amount of domestic minutes, texts or data.  Once consumers go over those limits – even by a little – they’re hit with dramatically higher rates and extreme penalties.  These plans seem purpose-built to drive customers over that invisible line into massive overage charges.

In the press release, the carrier noted it will end all domestic overages in starting in May for the June billing cycle (something we thought it was doing since the beginning of Uncarrier?). The wording also sounds a lot like it could continue to charge overages for international use.  T-Mobile’s new Simple Starter plan does not include the free international perks it unveiled for other plans last year, so it looks like the carrier is giving itself some room to continue charging overages for international use in some cases.

T-Mobile has been doing a lot of talking about ending overages, and its approach might be slightly more transparent than the other guys, but at the end of the day an overage is an overage and even T-Mobile charges some customers for more data. It’s new Simple Starter plan for example which caps at 500MB for LTE data, will force users to purchase $5/day or $10/week “additional data sessions.”

The company’s full press release is below.

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