Labor unions have had their problems with T-Mobile. The National Labor Relations Board ruled against T-Mobile earlier this year, deeming it crossed federal labor laws by not allowing its employees to join or form a union. Big Magenta is about into another fight, this one against consumer advocates on its basic premise of being the “Un-carrier.”
USA TODAY reports that a labor and consumer organization called Change to Win is alleging to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that T-Mobile is deceptively advertising that its users can switch off to other carriers at anytime.
The New York Attorney General is also investigating related claims.
91 percent of T-Mobile customers are tethered to device loans being paid off in installments over a two year period. Early termination of that equipment installment plan (EIP) requires a lump sum payment of the balance on the device.
For some, that balance could total more than a traditional early termination fee (ETF). The Change to Win complaint also claims that some contract breakers could get placed in debt collection “with little or no notice.” The group wants T-Mobile to stop claiming it pays off customers’ ETFs and/or EIPs.
Advocacy group Color of Change says blacks and Latinos are disproportionately affected by the advertising policy.
Initial requests to T-Mobile for comment were received, but not returned. After the story’s publication, T-Mobile CEO John Legere vehemently denied the allegations and has accused USA TODAY of bias, even checkbook journalism.
@usatodaytech We stand by our ads! Contrary to the click-bait headline, we haven’t been accused of false advertising by any regulatory body.
— John Legere (@JohnLegere) December 8, 2015
Legere also dropped a screenshot of the USA TODAY article with a Sprint ad spot — which is a very disingenuous claim of partiality, especially given how Google AdChoices works by parsing through your browsing history to serve relevant ads.
— Joe (@joe012594) December 8, 2015
T-Mobile has rightly earned positive coverage from most of the tech media. But if this is how it addresses reportage of allegations, perhaps we should be skeptical.