T-Mobile Now Sending Letters To Customers In Accordance With Washington State Decision

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In accordance with a decision rendered by the Washington State Attorney General, T-Mobile is sending letters to customers who purchased service and equipment between March 26th and April 25th. Customers who bought service and equipment between those dates can get a full refund for the purchase of the equipment and cancel the plan without being required to pay the remaining balance owed on the device.

T-Mobile agreed to contact those customers who made purchases in-between those dates and as of yesterday, appears to be sending out the letter via email in groups. The terms of the letter follow below the text of this and according to a quick question on the @tmonews Twitter account, at least a small group of you have already received the letter.

Along with the letter, T-Mobile agreed to:

  • Not misrepresent customers’ true obligations under the terms of its contracts for the sale of service or equipment;
  • Make clear the consequences of cancelling T-Mobile service, including restrictions or limitations on cancellation; fees and costs; and early termination fees;
  • More clearly state in all advertisements the true cost of telephone equipment, including the requirement the customer carry a wireless service agreement for the life of the 24-month financing plan;
  • Instruct representatives to fully disclose obligations under the terms of its contracts, including developing a “Frequently Asked Questions” page; and
  • Train customer service representatives to comply with the settlement within 21 days of signing.

While T-Mobile should have made the terms of their service more transparent from the get-go, one can’t help but look at the politics of the Washington State decision. It just so happens that the state Attorney General, Bob Ferguson has received campaign funding from both AT&T and Verizon. It doesn’t hurt that Ferguson will seek re-election one day and might want to draw on the coffers of AT&T and Verizon to help fund his next campaign. I’m not suggesting this was a pure political move done at the behest of AT&T, but there’s plenty of room to suspect that Ferguson may have had an agenda in his quest to slap T-Mobile on the wrist.

In a brief statement sent to eWeek, T-Mobile responded to the decision by saying it voluntarily agreed to the decision:

“Our goal is to increase transparency with our customers, unleashing them from restrictive long-term service contracts,” according to a T-Mobile spokesperson responding in an email to eWEEK. “While we believe our advertising was truthful and appropriate, we voluntarily agreed to this arrangement with the Washington AG in this spirit.”

Full text of letter to T-Mobile customers:

Dear T-Mobile® Customer,

This notice is being sent to you pursuant to an agreement between the Washington State Attorney General’s Office and T-Mobile. Please note: wireless service is required to maintain your phone or device payment plan. If you cancel wireless service, all remaining payments become due, and will be charged to you in a lump sum on your final bill. You will no longer be able to make monthly payments.

Because you may not have understood this aspect of your telephone or device purchase, we are giving you an opportunity to return your phone or device for a full refund, including the down payment. You may do this by calling T-Mobile at 1-877-746-0909 (or by dialing 611 from your T?Mobile phone) within 30 days and returning your phone or device as instructed. You must return your phone or device within 14 days of cancelling service in order to receive a refund. If you return the phone by then, you will not be required to make any additional payments.

For more information, please call T-Mobile at 1-877-746-0909 (or dial 611 from your T-Mobile phone).

Sincerely,

T-Mobile

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  • RobotChupacabra

    *facepalm*

    People really need to be explained to that their phone isn’t free? Then again, I guess that’s part of the AG’s job: protect the stupid from themselves. And do what campaign donors tell him to do.

    • ccnet005

      and who will protect the people of Washington from their attorney general?

      • Dion Mac

        the people

    • MCGTech

      Maybe the AG is a new T-mo customer… Hey, I can get this phone cheap and cancel!
      T-Mo: Hold on AG that’s not how it works!
      AG: New rules!

  • Will

    Good for T-Mobile. I may have had problems with T-Mobile in the past. But they somehow always own up when a customer feels they were cheated.

  • gpt2010

    I knew AT&T and Verizon were behind this!!! It’s a conspiracy!! How stupid are people to think they can get a phone for dirt cheap and walk away. Do we really need to protect those people? If you are that stupid, you really don’t need a cell phone. Use a public pay phone instead.

  • Jose Hernandez

    This is so darn unnecessary. Common sense alone should tell you that if you cancel your darn service, you know you still have to pay the balance you owe on the phone. But, then again, I also know there are some people out there that probably did think they could cancel and keep the darn thing without paying for it. That T-Mobile needs to clarify this, is just so sad is not even funny.

    • Arthas

      Nobody expects to keep the phone without paying for it. But what if I want to cancel my plan, but just make payments for the phone (i.e. just the $20/month and not the whole $70+ per month)? This is what was not clarified in the marketing that you will not be able to do.

      • Arthas

        I do agree though that the entire thing is unnecessary and just a political thing. However there is a small point that was made.

        • Jose Hernandez

          I can agree on that.

      • moises1204

        i agree to that, also i was not told that i couldn’t pay more money towards the installment plan, i found out after i purchased 2 phones, when i went back 3 days later to purchase an other one i asked if i could pay more than just the minimum amount to see if i can pay the entire amount sooner than 24 month, they told me that there is only 2 options either pay the amount that tmobile charges you on a monthly basis or pay the entire amount right there and then, i feel tmobile should tell the customer about that when customers are purchasing any device.

        • guest

          as of March 24th, you can in fact pay more for towards the phone portion of your bill. Though it will not lower your monthly installment, it will lower the amount of months you have to pay for the device.

        • moises1204

          really? where you heard that? i really hope so!

        • thepanttherlady

          If you log into your account on the T-Mobile website there is an option for this.

        • JayMo86

          You actually can pay off the device with additional monthly payments. Plus you can also pay a higher down payment to lower your installments

        • moises1204

          thanks for the reply, yes the higher down payment i new because that is what i did to bring the monthly payment down, but the rep i was talking to told me that once you get into the installment plan you can either pay the monthly payment or pay off the amount owed on the phone! now it will not surprise me if the rep i was talking to din’t now what he was talking about, as i have found out the the majority of them don’t really now much of whats going on with the company or devises.

        • conservative_motorcyclist

          I don’t know what store you were in, but you were definitely misinformed.

          The store I frequent made it very clear that you can pay more than the minimum if you choose the EIP option. There are no prepayment penalties. For example, if I bought an iPhone 5 for $99 down, I am allowed to make whatever payment I want every month as long as it is greater than the minimum of $20 a month, until I pay it off. As soon as it is paid off, they will even unlock the device for free!

          The store also made it very clear that if you chose the EIP option and cancel your service before the device was paid off, you had to pay off the balance at the time of the cancellation. This was all on the first day the new plans came out!

    • Noel

      We all know how big money corrupts…it is no coincidence the article states those two carriers had made contributions. We all know how those two operate…one of them especially feel threatened by Tmo’s cutting edge carrier plans.

  • GwapoAko

    Atty General (Gago) I hope you are sleeping very well at night.

    • kev2684

      lol

  • rob

    T-Mobile seems to have found the Twin Bells DeathStar exhaust port, and they’re are trying to protect it.

  • D_Wall__

    I wonder if I can Cancel/Return my iPhone 5 for a GS4?

    • Herb

      Cancel & return iPhone
      Wait for GS4
      Start new Contract
      ??????
      Profit?

    • WW

      I’d say “yes” if you’re with the 30 day return period (TMo’s used to be 14 days) but when I bought my new phone about 2 weeks ago, I was told that there’s a $50 (the $ may be wrong) “restocking fee”

      Of course, there won’t be any new contract if you’re on the new plans.

  • Kit Pogi

    Ridiculous…I’m sure AT&T and VZW got hands on this gov crap decision.

  • ShoeVixen

    I got the email since I purchased the Iphone 5 and the SGIII for my daughters during that time period. It’s such a shame that they have to go through this to “clear” the air. But then again you got to think about the least sophisticated consumer..People will sue over any thing… smh

  • Christopher Bondurant

    We all need to contact this guy and let him know how we feel and show him that not everyone is dumb.

  • scsa852k@gmail.com

    T-Mo should’ve just said that they’re dropping subsidy.
    PROBLEM!!
    These idiots who had to be explained thoroughly about the new plan have no idea what subsidy is.

  • ELBubs

    So according to customer service, this only applies to customers in state of Washington? Anyone run into this issue?

    • Dion Mac

      Its funny that I was just thinking this. Its only Washington’s AG that’s acting a fool. But I’m thinking that since its a nationwide carrier, you can’t have a set of rules for one state and not the others. But then I thought about how EIP wasn’t available to some customer’s for purchasing over the phone b/c their state didn’t allow electronic or voice signatures for financing. But then again I thought maybe they will only do that advertising with the disclosers in it, in the state of washington. But as far as the reps go… they never know whats really going on.

      • ELBubs

        Maybe their agreement was to refund customers only for Washington customers, but change their advertising nationwide.

        I find it funny however that the whole requiring a contract thing while advertising no contracts was never brought up. Even though most reps probably did a good enough job of explaining that the contract was on the phone… but still there is still a contract tied to it, unless you bring your own phone or buy out right that same day…
        Anyways wish I could get rid of my stupid Lumia 810. T-Mo already killed it and it has only be out a few months and it has Bluetooth issues… wish I had known these facts before buying the phone.

      • John

        Well, Tmo has to adhere to CABOR (California Bill of Rights) just for Cali, so it’s been done before.

    • thepanttherlady

      I live in California and received an email with this letter.

      • WW

        Got it in GA as well.

      • ELBubs

        Yes I am not from Washington as well. But when I called to take up on this offer was told only if I am from Washington can I return my phone….
        Just need to confirm if anyone outside of Washington was able to get in on this.

  • Dion Mac

    Ok, I’ll give in a little… I can see it being a requirement to disclose to the customer “when they are actually purchasing the device on EIP” about if they cancel blah blah blah, but being required to explain that in advertising… Who explains everything in advertising these days? Well… aside from the drug commercials but that can lead to death so thats understandable. But this only leads to the deathstar trying to hush “the little carrier that could!”

  • Jared Wolfe

    Corporations own our government. Dirty business I will NEVER be a customer with AT&T a**holes.

    http://www.eweek.com/mobile/t-
    mobile-calling-plans-run-afoul-of-washington-states-attorney-general?mchk=1

  • kolijboy

    Good for you, AG. Customers need protection from slick, overhyping advertizers. Why should a supposedly simple plan have so many undisclosed gotchas?!

    Good for you, TMo, for recognizing and getting out ahead of a potentially devastating PR nightmare.

    Now fix your network coverage. I was on the PA turnpike and was amazed at how many data dead spotsthere were on this major highway.

  • kolijboy

    If it walks like a contract and quacks like a contract, it is a contract. There’s nothing “un” about it.

    I appreciate Tmo’s renewed vigor, but the artifices TMo is currently promoting might soon begin to appear to the American public like cheesy, late-night infomercials. Tmo has a hard enough time with with its image already.

    I say again: provide great service at at unbeatable price and people will come.

  • Osasco

    This T-Mierda new plans are all missleading. At the end you are still under contract because you had to buy the phone for a lot more without discount and pay in 24 months. If you want to get out of T-Mierda you will pay the same as a cancellation fee. Also, your bill increased by $20, that is the monthly payment on the phone. If you have 5 lines, your bill will increase by $100. No improvement for the customer, and more money for T-Mierda.

    • Ryan

      Actually, I have to respectfully disagree. When I switched to the new plan (from my old t-mobile one), I had to pay the 20 dollars extra a month, but my plan went down 5 bucks a month for the same unlimited calls/texts and 5gb data.

    • Dave

      I’m thinking you’re one of the people that this letter is targeting, one who doesn’t understand the basics of economics. There obviously needs to be something that stops a “customer” from walking in and buying a GS4 for $150 and then canceling their plan so they can sell the GS4 for $600 each on eBay and pocketing $450 in profit while Tmo loses that amount of money. An unlocked GS4 goes for around $700 buying direct from Samsung, might I remind you. I mean what did you expect? They need to get that $600 out of you somehow, they’re a company. Also it’s not a contract, you can just choose to pay the $600 upfront (phone will be unlocked as well), no monthly payments and you can choose to stop using Tmo whenever you want. I am confounded at your blistering hate for something you know so little about.

      • http://about.me/daylondeon Deacon

        well said Dave.

      • John

        He’s a result of drug stores being closed on Sunday’s.

    • John

      Ok, since you’re obviously very…VERY slow, I’ll help you. The OLD classic plan for a family was about $100 for unlimited talk and text for 2 (TWO) lines, then each add a line was $30. Now if you added the cheapest data required for purchasing a smartphone before the plans changed that’d be $20 per line. So lets do the math, 5*20 in data = 100 30 *3 add a lines = 90 the initial $100 for unlimited talk and text added to this brings us to a total of $290 for 5 lines unlimited talk, text and 2GB web.

      Now, new plan time.

      First 2 lines $80 lines 3-5 $10 each total of $30 ignoring the option of not taking additional data we’ll say each line takes 2.5GB of data (Oh my, that’s more) at $10 per line. WOW you’re at $160, add the $100 for the 5 hypothetical phones you’re paying SOOOO much for (Since you’re slow I’ll point out that was sarcasm) you’re at $260, still $30 less.
      Next time we’ll cover learning not to berate a company when you have no information.

  • Mycool

    What ever you do, dont call T-Mobile. No one seems to know anything about this.

  • jaxgrim

    Is anyone really surprised by this? We do live in a country where we have to warn people on cups that their coffee may be hot.

    • John

      I wonder if the populous would grow smarter on average if we just took away warning labels.

      • WW

        I believe “yes”.

    • WW

      Who (I typed “what idiot” at first but decided to not inflame the situation) would think that if they canceled their service, they wouldn’t have to cough up the remaining amount they owed on the relatively expensive phone they’re going to keep.

      • 21stNow

        People who are familiar with Verizon Wireless’ Device Purchase program would. There are differences in the programs, a main one being that VZW charges a finance fee. But, similar programs having different pay-off rules could be confusing to the average customer.

        • WW

          And I am unfamiliar with Verizon’s device purchase program. Thanks for the info.

        • 21stNow

          Verizon Wireless allows the customer to keep paying monthly on the device if they discontinue wireless service with them. It’s a new program, so I doubt that many “average customers” are familiar with it either. As time goes on though, this could create confusion in the marketplace.

  • Tmo_emplyoee

    customers are not being mislead every customer is always told they will owe the phone if they want to cancel we always also ask the customer if they will like to pay the full invoice of the phone which some do

  • http://about.me/daylondeon Deacon

    I think it’s stupid and probably more to it like the article said .. customers can’t be this stupid and naïve to think that they won’t be responsible for the phone’s price if they kill the contract …sales people tell you that, the contract tells you that etc .. this is just petty.
    if you’re really dumb enough to think any carrier would give you a free phone for $99 then you likely aren’t very far in life. good for TMO to even acknowledge this stupid decision.

    • Ryan

      unfortunately there a more and more people like this, especially with the economy the way it is. People want something for nothing and feel they’re entitled to it.

    • http://www.thegadgetgurus.net Vic

      While I’m sure there are some people who foolishly thought that, I think it’s more of an issue of people thinking they can continue to pay $20/m if they cancel their service, which isn’t the case as they will have to pay the remaining balance in full which can be higher than traditional ETFs in some cases.

  • Adam

    I don’t think people are truly understanding what is going on. People are going into stores and are told if they sign up they would be paying (for the phone) a down payment and then $20 a month for a phone. This AG is claiming that people are under the impression that if they cancel the plan they can keep the phone and continue to pay the $20 a month. Now we all know that this isn’t true, but to shut his dumb ass up tmobile agreed to alter things for him. It’s really no big deal to tmobile. And if it went to court they probably would have won. It’s clearly in the contract. But why fight it when it’s not really going to affect them much to put out the notice they did. This AG was looking for a fight and is probably mad that tmobile didn’t give him one. They probably laughed at him when they took the easy road out.

    • 21stNow

      I just read in another forum today that one poster was under that impression. The fact that he couldn’t continue to pay the $20/monthly if he left was news to him. He said that the rep told him this when he bought the phone.

      I also saw another poster in a different forum ask the same question. There are people out there that didn’t know that the balance is due in full at the time that service is ended.

      • WW

        I can understand people might think that.

        I believe the vast majority thinking that misunderstood what a rep was telling them or “heard what they wanted to hear” with a minority being misled by the rep.

  • 21stNow

    Now if the Washington AG could get T-Mobile to put the price on the signs and the website for customers on plans that are less than $50/month, I’d be happy.

  • babyboybelcher

    Purchased my s3 on March 26th, can I take advantage of this?

  • steveb944

    For whomever broke their devices but are still fictional it’s a good opportunity to change up. As well as those that were trying to wait for the new devices to release but couldn’t resist any longer and gave in to last year’s tech.

  • Alan713

    so basically anyone who bought an iPhone 5 during those dates for $99 now CAN cancel the financing plan as well as Monthly plan and walk out with a $580-iphone for $99,?? correct me if i’m wrong. Sounds awesome to me )

    • John

      No, they have to return the device

  • Irfan

    Simple .
    Get a plan … (service)
    u need phone. Bring your own phone or buy new one from t mobile store or any where else.
    Or
    T mobile give u option to finance phone from them this mean u will get installments plane for the phone as far u. With t mobile service if u discontine t mobile service your finance payment pane will b discontine and u must have to pay rest of the phone amamount in full.which u were paying in installments … this very simple to understand …in usa u need phone according to providers specification because simple word all providers havevthere onwn specific way of network thorey

  • Decalex

    I really think this decision is insane. I can’t speak for all Tmobile employees, but I always tell customers they’re paying full price for the device, and receive savings on their plan instead.

    They’re not locked into a contract for 2 years. They can pay this 0% financed device off any time they please, and don’t have to wait 2 years to get a new phone, and don’t pay upgrade fees.

    An iPhone 5 will probably hold its value enough to pay it off after 6 months, sell it, and get whatever comes out next. I’m not the norm, and I’m also preaching to the choir. This just kills me because I really think TMobile is doing something great for the industry as a whole, in regards to the cost of devices and transparency with what the customer is actually paying for.

    Selfish side note: man, I hope this doesn’t lead to a deact avalanche.

  • http://www.facebook.com/carlos.alvarado.946954 Carlos Alvarado

    People who want Free flagship devices should really research on smartphones. If you think phones are Free then you shouldn’t own one. At&t has the s3 for 99.99 with contract BUT 139.99 a month with a 24 year contract before taxes or insurance and it’s on 5gb of data with overages fees if you go over. At Tmobile the well qualified customer pays 69.99 down plus taxes off of 550.00 and 90 a month including 20 dollar payment on phone with Unlimited data Lmao people are stupid not to think tmobile is a better deal Lmao research people

    • MastarPete

      lmao, clearly you meant “with a 24 month contract before taxes”

      my god, could you imagine being locked into the same plan and phone for 24 years!! X-D

  • vedelorme

    This AG is a moron. Just read the terms and stipulations. It’s not rocket science.

  • wagner624

    The first words out of my mouth after hearing about this weeks ago was exactly this “Some republican with ATT or Verizon in his pocket trying to flame T-Mobile.”…. Whaddya know…? Not surprising in the least, this will continue as T-Mobile’s success grows. Shameful but true.

    • wagner624

      It turns out he is a Democrat. But even from a non-partisan point of view the same general principle applies. This is a lame attack easily accomplished by exploiting the verbiage of a contract that should be easily understood by the average person. Folks not asking questions when entering these kinds of agreements are leaving themselves open for misunderstandings regardless.