Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson recently sounded off on T-Mobile's new "uncarrier" plans, which suggest that customers don't need to require a contract (but they really do), and he's not pleased. Ferguson's office called T-Mobile's practices deceptive and is requiring that it offer a full refund on any purchases made by customers between March 26 and April 25 of this year.
"As Attorney General, my job is to defend consumers, ensure truth in advertising, and make sure all businesses are playing by the rules," Ferguson said in a press release. "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 believes that T-Mobile doesn't clearly state that customers who decide to stop paying for service over 24 months must pay back the full cost of the phone. While it was made clear to press, it's not very clear in T-Mobile's advertising. "Consumers who cancel their wireless service face an unanticipated balloon payment for the phone equipment – in most cases higher than termination fees for other wireless carriers depending on how early they cancel," the Ferguson's office explained. "Instead of a 'two-year sentence' for wireless service, consumers face a different two-year 'sentence' to avoid a lump-sum balloon payment for the phone."
T-Mobile is being required to pay the Attorney's Office $26,046.40 in fees. The carrier also said it will agree to the following terms from here on out:
- 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.
TechnoBuffalo reached out to T-Mobile for comment but did not receive an immediate response.