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The FTC’s T-Mobile suit is a dream come true for AT&T and Verizon

Published Jul 1st, 2014 3:51PM EDT
FTC Vs. T-Mobile Verizon AT&T

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T-Mobile CEO John Legere has been utterly merciless when it comes to trolling his bigger rivals at Verizon and AT&T and now they’re going to have a chance to return the favor. Legere, who recently controversially accused AT&T and Verizon of “raping you for every penny you have,” now finds that his own company is being accused of swindling customers out of hundreds of millions of dollars.

How bad does this look? According to the FTC, T-Mobile continued charging customers for unauthorized “premium” services that “had refund rates of up to 40 percent in a single month,” which should have been a major red flag to the “Uncarrier” that it was making money from services that were never approved by its users. Even worse, the FTC claims that “internal company documents show that T-Mobile had received a high number of consumer complaints at least as early as 2012,” which means that they’ve had a long time to get on top of this and fix it.

Not only that, but the FTC complaint also slams T-Mobile for allegedly using the same confusing billing practices that Legere has mocked AT&T and Verizon for using to squeeze more money from subscribers.

“[T-Mobile’s] billing practices made it difficult for consumers to detect that they were being charged, much less by whom,” the FTC alleges. “When consumers viewed a summary of their T-Mobile bill online… it did not show consumers that they were being charged by a third party, or that the charge was part of a recurring subscription.”

Of course, Legere will rightly claim that this started before he took over as CEO in late 2012, but he’ll still have a hard time explaining how he could have known about this problem while so gleefully slamming his rivals for shaking down their customers.

We’re still waiting anxiously to hear T-Mobile’s take on this, but this is already looking like a propaganda coup for AT&T and Verizon. After all, John Legere will never take damage for using foul language or engaging in shameless publicity stunts. Being exposed as a phony, on the other hand, would be deadly to his reputation.

Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.


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