Several weeks ago, we discussed T-Mobile proudly announcing that they would no longer allow third-parties to bill customers for Premium SMS services and wanted to be “proactive” in protecting customers. We also noted that it was rather idiotic for T-Mobile to make this claim after they made millions off these services.
Last year, the Federal Trade Commission finally realized what was going on and started looking into this service.
“The concept of ‘cramming’ charges on to phone bills is a not a new one,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. “As more and more consumers move to mobile phones, scammers have adapted to this new technology, and the Commission will continue its efforts to protect consumers from their unlawful practices.” - FTC.gov
Now, the FTC is taking action as they filed a complaint today alleging that T-Mobile benefitted from these services to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. Specifically, the FTC alleges that T-Mobile received anywhere from 35 to 40 percent of the total amount charged to consumers.
In some cases, T-Mobile continued billing customers even AFTER becoming aware that the charges were fraudulent, dating back to 2012. T-Mobile is alleged to have refused refunds to some customers, offering only partial refunds of two months’ worth of the charges to others, and in other cases instructed consumers to seek refunds directly from the scammers – without providing accurate contact information to do so.
“It’s wrong for a company like T-Mobile to profit from scams against its customers when there were clear warning signs the charges it was imposing were fraudulent. The FTC’s goal is to ensure that T-Mobile repays all its customers for these crammed charges.” - FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez
Another part of the complaints centers around T-Mobile INTENTIONALLY confusing customers with long bills and complicated terms for the premium services.
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. - TMONews