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FTC accuses T-Mobile of adding bogus charges to customer bills

US operator claims it's innocent
Wed Jul 02 2014, 10:47

THE UNITED STATES Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has accused mobile operator T-Mobile of "cramming" bogus charges onto its customers' bills.

The FTC alleged that T-Mobile billed customers for dubious SMS services that no one really wanted and continued to charge them even after it suspected that they were fraudulent (PDF).

In its complaint the FTC said that T-Mobile made "hundreds of millions of dollars" by taking a cut of around 40 percent on billings for SMS content such as "flirting tips" and "celebrity gossip".

"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," said FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez.

"The FTC's goal is to ensure that T-Mobile repays all its customers for these crammed charges."

The FTC alleged that T-Mobile's bills are so large that the charges can be missed. It mentioned 50-page bills, and said that other, pay in advance customers get no detailed bills at all. Where charges for third-party rubbish were included the details were fudged and did not make clear what the charges were for.

T-Mobile has denied this emphatically, and said that the FTC's charges are wholly lacking in merit.

"We have seen the complaint filed today by the FTC and find it to be unfounded and without merit. In fact T-Mobile stopped billing for these Premium SMS services last year and launched a proactive program to provide full refunds for any customer that feels that they were charged for something they did not want," it said in a statement signed by John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile USA. .

"T-Mobile is fighting harder than any of the carriers to change the way the wireless industry operates and we are disappointed that the FTC has chosen to file this action against the most pro-consumer company in the industry rather than the real bad actors... The FTC's lawsuit seeking to hold T-Mobile responsible for their acts is not only factually and legally unfounded, but also misdirected."

This news follows similar accusations brought against US operator AT&T. The INQUIRER exclusively revealed earlier this year that the network had been accused of overcharging users for phone calls in order to collect their location data, which the FCC said it would investigate. µ


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