Let’s admit the fact that when you see T-Mobile’s ads for unlimited talk, text and data for 4 lines for just $30 a line, it looks really impressive. Then you add in the new Samsung Galaxy S6 for just $9 a month, per phone. Then you factor in that they would pay for the early termination fees or device payments that you have left over, up to $350 of course, and the Magenta carrier looks to be the deal of the century for most families, right? Well a few select groups are singing a different tune. In fact, the consumer group, Change to Win is making enough noise to attract the attention of the New York Attorney General and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Change to Win is accusing T-Mobile’s advertisements to making that $120 deal look better than it is, and in doing so, making consumers believe that they are going to pay less than they and that they are free to leave anytime they want to, without a termination fee. The allegations also point out how quickly T-Mobile will send users to collections and how long it takes for consumers to receive their promised ‘Early Termination Fee payment” from T-Mobile. Overall, they are basically going after what most consider as a standard practice in the wireless industry at this point. The question becomes, is there anything to this, or is it merely another consumer protection group up in arms over someone trying to make money?
Looking at the reality of the situation, T-Mobile’s deal isn’t as good as it looks in the ads, if you want a top tier device. For example, their recent promotion of $120 for a family of 4 and the $9 Samsung Galaxy S6 deal really don’t just cost $156 a month. The first part that is mentioned only very quickly by the announcer is that you have to enroll in Jump on Demand for this deal, which is another $10-15 a month depending on the level of the program you want to be in. Then you add in the 20% taxes that nobody likes to talk about and the total bill isn’t just $120. You end up seeing the final total coming in much closer to $250 after taxes and fees.
While most people would take the attitude that people need to read the fine print, and they are right, it only takes a few the noisemakers to really drum up support for a campaign against the one yelling the loudest about their new offers. Nobody is making a stink about Sprint’s ‘lease’ deal where you pay $500 for a phone over 2 years and you don’t own a thing when you’re done. There’s also no mention of the length of time that it takes for your trade in gift card to arrive from Verizon. It’s probably best to leave this one at the fact that consumers shouldn’t need protection from a service company, but when your bill comes in at double the cost you expected because you didn’t read the fine print or something wasn’t explained well, it’s nice to know someone is watching out for you.