Washington State Attorney General Has A Bone To Pick With T-Mobile’s UNcarrier Offer

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Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has laid down the gauntlet and ordered T-Mobile to alter its “deceptive advertising.” Ferguson has taken issue with a component of the new UNcarrier plan that involves consumers paying full price for their smartphone. Consumers who opt for the monthly installment plan will pay a monthly installment charge to cover the cost of the device. Customers who leave early will have to pay the full cost of the device, which Ferguson calls a “balloon payment” which can sometimes be higher than an early termination free. Ferguson says T-Mobile is failing to clarify this possible charge with customers properly.

“My office identified that T-Mobile was failing to disclose a critical component of their new plan to consumers, and we acted quickly to stop this practice and protect consumers across the country from harm,” Ferguson said in a statement issued on Thursday.

T-Mobile has cooperated with the AG office and signed a document titled an Assurance of Discontinuance (AOD). Under the terms of the AOD, T-Mobile will agree to:

  • Misrepresenting that customers can obtain wireless service and telephone equipment without restrictions; and
  • Failing to disclose that customers who terminate their T-Mobile wireless service before their device is paid off will have to pay the balance due on the phone at the time of cancellation.

Customers who purchased T-Mobile service and equipment between March 26th and April 25th can obtain a full refund for the equipment and cancel their plans without being required to pay the remaining balance owned on the device, so long as the customer cancels their service per the terms of the T-Mobile agreement. T-Mobile has agreed to contact customers who purchased equipment during the above dates to advise them of their right to cancel and get a refund.

T-Mobile has also agreed to a number of other terms per the AOD as listed below as well as agreeing to pay all attorneys’ fees and costs to the Attorney General’s office.

  • 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.

Washington State Attorney General

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  • Tmobile for ever

    This is stupid. Ive been with tmobile for over 12 years. I have never had a problem with changing phones, upgrading services, changing or adding services. I have used my phone as I moved from Florida, north Carolina, Arizona, Louisiana and as i travel all over the country. On the new plans I had no problem changing to a new service with no additional charges. and the advertising is correct. a person CAN get what is specified. But if you finance you phone, ummmm you have to pay for it. even if you cancel it. If you buy a car, you still owe that loan even if the car is repossessed. Stupid is stupid does. TMOBILE, thank you for being the amazing and helpful carrier you have been for me for going on now for almost 15 years. to the haters. ppbbhhtttt.

  • Smokey Behr

    I guess there’s just too many idiots out there that are the product of public schools who can’t read a contract or the fine print, and understand that you’re buying the phone on installments, and that if you cancel your service, you’re liable for the full cost of the phone. It’s like buying a car: If you sell the car, and you still owe money on it, you have to pay off the owner of the note before you can keep the rest of the money.

  • http://twitter.com/JDoakes_SD Joe Doakes

    This is ridiculous. Not being explicitly clear about having to pay off your device in full when you cancel service is harmful to customers BUT NOT 2 year contracts, early termination fees, excessive overage fees, or dozens of other “norms” of the wireless industry. Its INSANE!

  • Moi

    This was all a pretty awesome read guys.. Good arguments.. I’m with att, so I’m overpaying as it is. But Value plan seems the way to go. If I just buy the phone unlocked from the manufacturer website, which in some phones, nexus 4 and This HTC One, is cheaper than tmobile, bam, no having to pay it all off if I want to cancel.

  • dkbnyc

    I wonder which company paid off the AG?

  • Wayne Rash

    Want to know why the AG sued T-Mobile? Do you think maybe it’s because his single largest corporate campaign contributor was AT&T? Check this story: http://www.eweek.com/mobile/t-mobile-calling-plans-run-afoul-of-washington-states-attorney-general/