Early cancellation of phone plans results in undisclosed balloon payment
||Did you purchase T-Mobile service and equipment under this new plan between March 26 and April 25, 2013?
You may obtain a full refund for telephone equipment and cancel your service plans without paying the remaining balance owed on your device— as long as you cancel per the terms of this agreement, including returning the equipment.
T-Mobile must contact consumers who purchased telephone equipment under the terms of their new business plan via e-mail to advise them of their rights.
Consumers eligible for this settlement may call T-Mobile at 1-877-746-0909 for more information or dial 611 from their T-Mobile telephones.
OLYMPIA…Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has entered into a court-ordered agreement with T-Mobile to correct alleged deceptive advertising that promised consumers no annual contracts while carrying hidden charges for early termination of phone plans.
Today, the Attorney General's Office filed a court order signed by T-Mobile and effective nationwide that will ensure the company clearly communicates the limitations of its new “no-contract” wireless service plans and allows customers duped by the deceptive ads to exit their contracts with no penalty.
“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. “My office identified that T-Mobile was failing to adequately 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.”
T-Mobile recently launched a new type of wireless service plan, claiming to offer “no restrictions,” “no annual contract” and no requirement that the consumer “serve a two-year sentence.” However, this new plan does not include a phone. Instead, the company provides the option for consumers to purchase a phone at a monthly rate over a two-year term. They also offer the opportunity to bring your own phone or pay the entire cost of the phone up front.
After an investigation of the company’s practices, the Attorney General’s Office learned that the company failed to adequately disclose that customers who purchase a phone using the 24-month payment plan must carry a wireless service agreement with T-Mobile for the entire 24 months— or pay the full balance owed on phone if they cancel earlier.
Consumers who cancel their wireless service face an unanticipated balloon payment for the phone equipment – in some cases higher than termination fees for other wireless carriers depending on how early they cancel. 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 cooperated with the Attorney General’s Office in signing an Assurance of Discontinuance (AOD) filed in King County Superior Court today. Under the AOD, the company agrees not to:
- Misrepresent consumers' obligations under its contracts, including those contracts that have not restrictions or limitations; and
- Fail to adequately 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.
All consumers who purchased T-Mobile service and
equipment between March 26 and April 25, 2013, can obtain a full
refund for their telephone equipment and cancel their service plans
without being required to pay the remaining balance owed on their
devices— as long as the customer cancels his or her service per the
terms of the agreement, including returning the equipment to T-Mobile.
The company is required to contact
consumers who purchased telephone equipment under the terms of their new
business plan to advise them of their right to cancel and obtain a
refund. Consumers can call T-Mobile at 1-877-746-0909 for more
information or dial 611 from their T-Mobile telephones.
The company also agrees that it will:
- 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.
The AOD requires T-Mobile to pay attorneys’ fees and costs to the Attorney General’s Office in the amount of $26,046.40.
Contacts: Janelle Guthrie, Director of Communications, (360) 586-0725