There it is, that little fine print at the bottom of every T-Mobile ad. Sure, their network is much better than it has been. They offer you more bang for the buck than any other carrier and they aren’t ashamed to admit it. What they are a bit hesistant to bring up is all the fine print that is associated with their ‘deals’. When you hit the T-Mobile website right now, you will see the ad above in all it’s glory – FREE TABLET! Nothing down, nothing per month. Only at T-Mobile. The $319.99 tablet is advertised as 100% gratis to you when you have a qualifying plan, which just happens to be the 2GB postpaid plan for new subscribers, or 1GB for existing subscribers. The 2GB plan is $20 per month, and you are required to hold the plan for a full 24 months or the remaining device payment is due.
Loosely translated, this means that T-Mobile is basically running the same deal as the contract cellular plans that it destroyed when they became the uncarrier. They are subsidizing the device cost by making you sign up for service for 2 years. If you leave 6 months into the deal, you will recieve credit for 6 months of payments on the tablet, or about $80. This leaves $240 due before you are off the hook. Most would call that an ETF, which is what T-Mobile said they had done away with.
This just goes to show you, no matter how much carrier bashing the “un-carrier” does, it’s still just like everyone else in the micro-fine print department. Buyer beware on this deal, just like when you finanace a phone through most carriers now. When you leave, you’re still going to have a pretty good fee to pay, whether they call it an ETF or a device payoff.