Update 1 At 5 PM EDT
T-Mobile has responded to the FTC’s claims on their website, saying they see the report as “unfounded and without merit.” T-Mobile CEO John Legere says that of T-Mobile, “we believe that customers should only pay for what they want and what they sign up for.”
John Legere does say that “not all of these third party providers acted responsibly — an issue the entire industry faced”, but continues to say that “the FTC’s lawsuit seeking to hold T-Mobile responsible for their acts is not only factually and legally unfounded, but also misdirected.”
Original Story Below
T-Mobile has been saying lately that they are different from the other US carriers by trying to help eliminate “pain points” in the wireless industry. Unfortunately for them, the United States Federal Trade Commission (the FTC) claims that T-Mobile knowingly charged customers for unauthorized SMS subscription services that delivered information such as horoscopes and celebrity gossip at prices up to $9.99 per month.
According to the FTC, T-Mobile collected 35 to 40 percent of the amounts charged to customers, even continuing to bill them after they discovered the charges were fraudulent. The FTC says that T-Mobile made “hundreds of millions” of dollars with these charges.
The FTC alleges that the charges were unauthorized because of the high volume of T-Mobile customers seeking refunds and that they received a high number of consumer complaints in 2012.
T-Mobile is said to have made it difficult for customers to detect these fraudulent charges, as bill summaries did not show third-party charges or recurring subscriptions. The T-Mobile bills also made it “nearly impossible for consumers to find and understand third-party subscription charges.”
After looking past a “Summary” section as well as an “Account Service Detail” section, both of which described “Usage Charges” but did not itemize those charges, a consumer might then reach the section labeled “Premium Services,” where the crammed items would be listed.
According to the complaint, the information would be listed there in an abbreviated form, such as “8888906150BrnStorm23918,” that did not explain that the charge was for a recurring third-party subscription supposedly authorized by the consumer.”
T-Mobile has also reportedly failed to fully reimburse customers after the fraudulent charges were discovered. The FTC is asking for a court order to prevent T-Mobile from continuing to charge customers for these fraudulent charges and provide full refunds for their “ill-gotten gains.”
T-Mobile has not yet commented on the FTC’s accusations, but it’s presumable that their CEO, John Legere, will. Have you been affected by these fraudulent charges?