T-Mobile to Change 'Deceptive' No-Contract Ads, Offer Refunds

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson has ordered T-Mobile to alter its new "Uncarrier" advertising strategy, calling its contract free claims "deceptive."

Alongside the launch of the iPhone 5 earlier this month, T-Mobile rolled out new rate plans, which are designed to separate device costs from service costs. To purchase a device like the iPhone 5, T-Mobile customers make a small downpayment and pay off the rest of the cost over a two-year period, while also paying for a separate service plan.

tmobileAccording to Ferguson, T-Mobile has failed to clearly state that while there is no annual contract for T-Mobile subscribers, customers who cease using T-Mobile's service must pay off the remaining cost of the device.

"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."

As a result, Ferguson entered into a court ordered agreement with T-Mobile that will require the carrier to explicitly disclose the details of its contract free plans both through its advertisements and with employee training.

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.

The agreement also requires T-Mobile to offer full refunds to customers who purchased T-Mobile service and equipment between the dates of March 26 and April 25, 2013. Subscribers who purchased phones during this time period can cancel their service plans and receive device refunds without the need to pay the remaining balance on the device.

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Top Rated Comments

komodrone Avatar
147 months ago
"...but I thought I can just sign up and cancel to get a super cheap phone. T-mobile is so deceptive!"
Score: 40 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Gasu E. Avatar
147 months ago
It's good we have Attorneys General to protect idiots from themselves. Otherwise, the idiots would quickly die out, and brainy people would be forced to take your fries order.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
newagemac Avatar
147 months ago
I'm pretty sure this was lobby money from Verizon and AT&T at work. The uncarrier campaign sure must have been hurting sales. There isn't a single person who thought you could sign up with T-Mobile and cancel the next day with a free iPhone like this AG is suggesting.

There is no contract with the wireless service. The phone isn't free. Everyone already knew that but of course this wasn't ever about "protecting the consumer" it was about protecting the big duopoly we have going on here in the U.S.

Case in point, this buffoon was no where in sight with AT&T reneging on its "unlimited" contract, blocking FaceTime for a long time, and all sorts of other real chances to protect the consumer. Of course he'll come out swinging for the AT&T lobbyists lining his pockets though.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ouimetnick Avatar
147 months ago
The picture with the misspelling of OUR to ARE was a leaked photo. It was discussed a few weeks back. T-Mobile corrected that mistake when they went public with everything. Not sure why MR is using old leaked material here. :rolleyes:
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
econgeek Avatar
147 months ago
In other words, the remnants of US West aka QWEST, got their political crony to force a competitor to make their advertising less compelling, because it was hurting sales.

Protection of consumers never entered the picture.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
HenryDJP Avatar
147 months ago
I already mentioned a couple of weeks back that while T-Mobile's business plan SEEMS doable, there's always a "Gotcha". Gotta love how they misspelled OUR and wrote ARE. How much money does this company have? Weaksauce. :rolleyes:
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)