Today, news brought a puzzling accusation from the Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson: T-Mobile is being deceptive in its “no contract” statements, claiming that it might as well be considered a two-year contract if you can’t cancel your contract until the phone is paid off during the two years. I can understand where the misconception comes from, but at the same time I’m a little appalled if people think they can get a device for half of what it’s worth with no repercussions. That makes absolutely no sense at all.
While I don’t think T-Mobile went from being just like every other carrier to “holier than thou” overnight, I do feel like they are being a little less “deceptive” (if that’s what you want to call it) than other carriers. I mean, technically other carriers aren’t being deceptive, per se; I would say they’re more greedy than deceptive. They pretty much outline everything they can and will do if you decide to cancel a contract in the contract that we, the consumers, sign. It’s the fact that most people don’t want to spend time reading the contract that gets them into the most trouble.
T-Mobile is a little different now that they’ve changed to be the new “Uncarrier” though. While you don’t have to sign a two-year agreement, you are essentially agreeing that you will pay for the phone in full before you can run off to another company with it. Makes senses, does it not? You wouldn’t pay halfsies for a new car and expect not to have it repossessed unless you’re a mastermind with extensive plans to secretly make off with it, never to be seen again. You don’t just pay for half of something unless there are specific terms attached to it.
All in all I would have to say no, you’re technically not in contract. If you don’t want to be with T-Mobile anymore after X amount of months, pay off the rest of your phone and be done with it. It’s better than having to pay an Early Termination Fee, which is basically a carrier’s way of saying “You hurt my feelings, and the only way to fill the void in our heart is through your wallet.” With T-Mobile you’re not paying any early termination fees – you’re paying for the device that you purchased. You at least know what you’re paying for, and it only makes sense that you have to finish paying it off before you’re off the hook. T-Mobile is doing a service to consumers by not tying the plan and phone together.
The phone is not what is being advertised as contract-free – the service is. When you sign a contract for any other carrier you’re not saying you will keep that same phone for two years, you’re saying you won’t switch providers. With T-Mobile you are free to switch providers if you want. Do they want you to leave? No, but you can have peace of mind knowing that the only investment you are making with them is the phone you’re purchasing – a phone that you can easily take to another network if it turns out you’re unhappy with T-Mobile’s service.
Not a lot of people want to pay $500-$800 for a phone outright. Many people don’t even know that’s how much a phone really costs. A lot of people have been spoiled to think that the $50-$200 price tag we see every two years is what a phone costs. T-Mobile has figured out a way to give you that prepaid carrier price plan with the option to subsidize the price of your phone if you want to. I can’t be mad at them for using lateral thinking to solve the raised issue of contracts, and would hate to see the idea go down the tubes because somebody doesn’t quite understand the purpose behind the move.
I don’t believe that T-Mobile is perfect. I do support the idea behind this movement, but they do have a long way to go before becoming the “perfect” carrier – but hey, they’ve got to start somewhere, and I happen to think they’re off to a pretty good start.
Readers, what are your opinions? Do you feel like T-Mobile is actually placing a two-year contract on its customers with subsidized prices? Do you think that T-Mobile should explain their price plans a little more thoroughly? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!