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FTC sues T-Mobile over bogus billing

In the continuing battle between cell phone providers, T-Mobile has offered to pay the early termination fees that consumers could be subject to if they decide to leave another provider. While this may be an enticing proposition, T-Mobile has gotten into hot water with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over its billing practices.

According to an ABC News report, T-Mobile has allegedly been billing their customers with bogus charges for years. Essentially, customers with premium text messaging services were billed $10 per month for horoscope services even though they may not have requested the services. T-Mobile collected as much as 40 percent of the charges, despite complaints from their customers that the horoscopes were basically scams. 

The practice the FTC is accusing T-Mobile of is called “cramming.” Basically, a number of third party charges are included in a customer’s bill. With so many charges laced within a bill, they can be difficult to read and/or contest. As a result, the consumer ends up paying the bill in whole, along with the bogus charges.

As such, the FTC is suing T-Mobile and is demanding that the carrier refund money to consumers.

T-Mobile denies the allegations, and insists that it has never hidden charges from its customers or required them to pay for services they did not ask for. In lieu of the lawsuit, it has announced that it would no longer offer premium text messaging services. The company explained that demand for the service has been waning. It also announced that it would offer refunds to customers who felt they were aggrieved.

It remains to be seen what will happen to the Commission’s lawsuit, but it exemplifies a situation where an experienced attorney can be helpful. 

Source: ABC “Regulators accuse T-Mobile of bogus billing,” Anne Flaherty, July 1, 2014

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