Did T-Mobile managers direct workers to overcharge customers accounts?

by: William Neilson JrJuly 9, 2014
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ftcbuilding-e1354748196126 TheNextWeb

Last week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed an official complaint alleging that T-Mobile made millions from allowing third-party companies to bill customers for Premium SMS services. The FTC alleged that T-Mobile received anywhere from 35 to 40 percent of the total amount charged to consumers.

A significant portion of the complaint centers around whether T-Mobile continued this practice after becoming aware of this issue and whether bills were intentionally long and confusing so as to hide the Premium SMS charges.

cramminggraphic (1) FCC.gov

T-Mobile responded to the FTC by claiming that the allegations were “unfounded and without merit.” T-Mobile also said that they stopped billing for these Premium SMS services last year and that they launched a program to provide full refunds for any customer that feels that they were charged for something they did not want.

T-Mobile has in the past and will continue to keep our pledge to bill customers only for what they want and what they have purchased for as long as I am CEO of this company! NO EXCUSES!” – John Legere, T-Mobile.com

Stop AlphavilleHerald

Now, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) has released a statement claiming that they tried to tell T-Mobile about this cramming practice. In a released statement, the CWA notes that in January 2013 they approached T-Mobile’s parent company Deutsche Telekom to alert them that T-Mobile US managers weredirecting workers to add charges to customer accounts.”

The CWA then claims that T-Mobile fired a number of front-line employees who said they were working under direct orders from managers. CWA also states that at a T-Mobile shareholder meeting in June 2013, a CWA activist spoke directly to former Deutsche Telekom CEO Rene Obermann and current T-Mobile CEO John Legere about T-Mobile cramming issues and got nowhere.

exp.nr.cell.phone.charges.cnn.640x360 CNN

I still am left to wonder why exactly that the FTC is not also going after AT&T and Verizon for cramming actions in the not-so past. As Karl Bode notes over at DSLReports, AT&T flat out lied to the New York Times when asked whether they profited from cramming charges:

Why does AT&T allow Wise Media to show up on its bills? Is it because AT&T is taking a cut of the revenue generated by Wise Media?

Nope, said (the AT&T spokesperson).

Really, asked the Haggler?

Really, said (the AT&T spokesperson).

Could you double-check that, (we asked)?

She could, she said.

The next day she sent this e-mail, also quoted in its entirety:

“AT&T has no further comment at this time.” – New York Times

AT&T and Verizon have faced numerous class actions lawsuits due to cramming complaints. Several years ago, it took a little push from Congress to get AT&T and Verizon to no longer allow third party charges on landline networks and even that only occurred three years ago.

Of course, AT&T and Verizon love to tell people that they stopped this practice “voluntarily” while in reality they were forced to stop the practice after receiving billions and billions in illegal charges.