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!

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31 Reactions to this post

"Do you think T-Mobile should have advertised their subsidized phone plans more clearly?"

Please limit your reaction to 140 characters or use comments for a longer reply :)
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David Rushing It was always pretty clear to me.
Brain Roopull Is it really accurate to call using one of the most advanced smart phones ever produced a "challenge?" Shouldn't it be called the "30 Day Spoil Myself Silly Extravaganza?" ;-)
Aaron Tillery tech its not very misleading they never said the iphone is 99$ i believe the commercial said for instance get the iphone for 99 so tech should they say for 99 down maybe but its also up for people to read the fine print
Micah Watkins I completely understand T-Mobile's new plans. Number one T-Mobile USA is the only national carrier that don't charge upgrade fees for customers to upgrade their phones. You buy the phone of your choice pay it outright at the time of purchase or make payments on the phone until it's paid off then if you want to leave or stay it's up to the customer and I also wanna add the customer doesn't have to wait 2 years to pay off the phone they're paying on as you can pay it off anytime. I bought the first Galaxy S in 2011 paid it off less a year later and bought the Samsung Galaxy S III which I am use as my phone currently.
Marcus Bröker Well said
Ramses Topete Either way you slice it. Tmobile service with EIP is still less than any of the big carriers. That's IF you pay the smallest down payment.. let's say you choose to pay the same amount up front for a phone than the other carries.. you pay even less monthly payments on the bill. It's pretty clear if you ask me.
Jason Vargas Not deception they just mis worded their advertising because when I signed up last week the first thing they told me was about paying a phone for 2 years. If not just pay it off. People just want to hate on their brilliant No contract idea
Jeff Griffith Stupid people will always complain because they're.................. Too stupid to read and comprehend!
Lashonda Jones Neal It's clear and even common sense. I'm starting to think people choose ignorance so they have something to complain about.
David DiPilla I have Verizon the service is outstanding but was thinking t-mobile was a lot cheaper
Luis A Ramos Jr Yes T-Mobile Should Have Made Their Subsidized Plans more clearly instead of pissing people off !!! Shame on The Number 4 US Carrier and that's why they is still number 4 and not moving up the ladder.
Dominic Jessup Reid I think people are being greedy. The down payment for the iPhone is $99 and people expect T mobile to pay the rest? Apple don't even charge $99.
Pierce Swan No I think it's pretty straight forward since even Verizon ppl are passing a petition to get the same done to Verizon. Can't blame them with Verizon's crazy fees and their ETF being 350 bucks which is ridiculous.
Susan Hugus I bought my Galaxy Note II outright from T-Mobile last fall. Yes, I did sign the contract for the 2 years at that time so I will have to see what happens with the new plan, but I don't see what the problem is here. One could pay full price for the phone and charge it to a credit card separate from the phone bill so you would have the choice to go to another GSM company if you wanted to do so. The interest might be a little higher from the credit card company, but at least you should able to leave.
Dale Junior Everything Tmobile does is a mess.
David DiPilla Do you really save money with t-mobile am I stupid my dad pays 115 a month for t-mobile he gets everything unlimited but you pay full price for the phones and Verizon is what 132 dollars for 4 g of data but you pay a lot cheaper for the phone am I miss something here
Earl Ugalde Nothing hidden about upgrade fees on Verizon. They been around almost a year now. You may not have to like it but they are there. A sudden spike in the cost of the phone but no fee would arguably by more suspect. Even tmos uncarrier plan. If you don't have the means to buy the phone outright or provide your own unlocked device you may as well just go with the contact. The balance of a financed device may cost more than an early termination fee in most cases
Mathieu Omoregie Why not.... Advertise just for the hell of it. Make it clear and simple to understand. The moves tmobile is making is gonna set the trend/path for the rest to follow. I for one am excited about the plans. Crazy that people I tell still don't know about it. So why not spend or invest a little money and advertise
Luis Robles Figueroa Yes they should have explain it better. That way there wasn't too much confusion. I second that... from a form customer.
Roger Schubert DeOliveira Jason you would be susprised...people still come in and say...."OH GOD FULL PRICE? BUT VERIZON HAS IT FOR $100!"...and I go okay..."Ill make the iphone5 FREE...but your bill will be $250 a month"...and they look at me like i just blew their fucking mind.
George Millhouse tmobile has always been misleading in their advertisements. having worked for them in the past I can tell you with a hundred percent certainty it is done intentionally
Jason Nash T-Mobile's new plans seem to be clear as day to me. No contract for their wireless plan. But obviously if you don't buy the phone, you'll have to sign a contract for the hardware. A freaking iPhone isn't really $99. It's like common sense died while I wasn't looking.
George Millhouse Jerimiah all the top 4 have an upgrade fee...Spring and ATT charge 36 dollars. This isnt new
Jerimiah Reece I just got surprised by Verizon when I put in a Pre-Order for the GS4 today. Their email link sent me to a page that said $199! So I was happy to see they were $50 cheaper than everyone else. Opened the same link on my tablet later and it said $249. Verizon cust serv. said it was an error. Later it said $199 again, but with a $50 mail in rebate. Then I find out they charge a hidden $30 upgrade fee (the website does not explain why your total price suddenly changes after you click "Next"). Just sell the phone for $279 for goodness sake. If everyone pays $30 to upgrade just make the phones cost more. We need more "Truth in Advertising".
K.j. Littlejohn Doy Jo Jo!!!
JayR Yambao No, people are just being ignorant.
Roger Schubert DeOliveira Oh of course, because people are seriously stupid, and they dont know how to fucking live life. Honestly pay attention, and it shouldnt be a problem.
Lewis Dariel Tejeda No! It is pretty clear some people are just too stupid to understand. Sorry, but it's the truth.
Orion Pax Nope..Cause its BS.

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