Thursday, July 21, 2011

Watch Out When Porting Service From T-Mobile (Evil Bastards)!

On June 15th I signed on with AT&T and joined the iPhone revolution. I had been with T-Mobile for over 2 years so I was now month-to-month and figured there would be no issues with letting AT&T do the dirty work of ending my relationship with T-Mobile (which in the end isn't really ending the relationship, since AT&T is buying T-Mobile).

So I was surprised today to receive a 'final' bill from T-Mobile for $85.14, which was about what I had been paying for a full month to cover the vestigial 6 days in June before I canceled by account. In the bill I found the following line item Monthly Recurring Charges explaining my debt to T-Mobile:

Partial monthly charge for G1 UNLDATA 400MSGS from 6/09/11 to 6/14/11 $5.00
Partial monthly charge for G1 UNLDATA 400MSGS from 6/15/11 to 6/15/11 $19.99
Partial monthly charge for myFaves 600 from 6/09/11 to 6/14/11 $10.00
Partial monthly charge for myFaves 600 from 6/15/11 to 6/15/11 $39.99

In plain English, T-Mobile recognizes the 6-days pro-rata usage in the billing cycle up to termination but is charging me the full monthly usage anyway as an 'F you' to send me out the door. Cue outrage!

I called the Customer Service Number immediately and was stonewalled by a powerless(?) peon named Meredith with vague allusions to the dreaded 'Ts and Cs' (terms and conditions) to which she asserted I'd agreed and that seemingly bound me to this full charge for monthly services upon termination of my account if I didn't call them myself to inform them of my intent to leave. She was certainly powerful enough to handle me.

Here's a look at the language (relevant bit highlighted in blue) I could find in the Terms and Conditions:

Somehow between when I signed up with T-Mobile in 2008 to now, the Ts & Cs changed from what I had originally agreed to: You will remain responsible for all fees and charges for your Service and usage through termination (T-Mobile Ts & Cs, 2008). Was the world a better a place in 2008? Because this seems fair to me. It honors 'termination' as the point ending usage and debt for said usage and just generally makes sense in the universally fair, pay for what you use doctrine. Apparently between then and now all that changed was T-Mobile found an avaricious lawyer to comb their Ts & Cs for loose language that could be keeping them from squeezing every last penny from their customers victims.

While the new clause is patently unfair, it doesn't exactly seem ironclad. The 'may' seems pretty squishy and 'may' be the loophole I use to fight back here if I hear back as promised from Meredith's manager 'Shannon.' Whom Meredith was quick to point out  was equally powerless and couldn't override charges I'd agreed to in the Ts & Cs. Otherwise, in the pretty standard lawerly-way that corporate Ts & Cs screw consumers, I'm limited to arbitration rather than court to settle disputes with T-Mobile.

In the end, all of this is a long-winded, ventilating way to say that I'm probably getting fucked out of $60 by T-Mobile. Not the end of the world, but it still really pisses me off. Imagine how much bad profit T-Mobile is making through this little clause change in aggregate. And what a backhanded and cowardly way for lawyer-driven companies to squeeze the common man out of a few more bucks. It really is outrageous.

I have faith that awareness helps, if I keep shining lights where the Man doesn't want people looking maybe I can keep the next guy from losing his $60. Then, maybe I can count that $60 as good karma in the bank and hope that companies reverse course on cloaking themselves in legal protection from their customers and don't do what's wrong just because they can and it earns them a few bucks in the short term. Hopefully this costs T-Mobile more customers than just this guy.


  1. Actually, same thing happened to me, although my T&Cs date back to 2004:

    Now, they claimed a different paragraph (paragraph 4) for my case:

    "You may cancel Service for any reason by providing us with notice (we may require up to 30 days), which cancellation will take effect on or before the beginning of the next billing cycle after the notice period, ..."

    Again, as in your case, they "*may* require" notice. But the fact of the matter is that when i called to cancel, they did not require such notice period, effectively waiving their right to such notice.

    I reported them to the Better Business Bureau, and the next step is to file a complaint with NY Attorney General.

  2. Ditto to me today after I had two people in billing agree to a pro rata. I'm going to just breath deep and pay, and hope I catch their lawyer in front of my car on a dark and stormy night.

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