The FCC says T-Mobile misled consumers with inadequate disclosures on speed and data restrictions for its "unlimited" data plans. Now, the company must pay up.
Are you a T-Mobile or Metro PCS “unlimited” data customer who has been disappointed with your service? If so, some discounts might be on the way.
T-Mobile has agreed to pony up $48 million to settle Federal Communications Commission claims that it misled consumers by failing to adequately disclose speed and data restrictions on its “unlimited” data plans.
According to the FCC, T-Mobile policy allowed it to slow down data speeds for its so-called “unlimited” data plan customers after customers exceeded a monthly data threshold. So while T-Mobile customers were led to believe that “unlimited” data packages provided “better and faster service,” that wasn’t necessarily the case.
The FCC says it received numerous complaints from T-Mobile and Metro PCS customers who said they felt deceived when they discovered their “unlimited” plan included “deprioritized data speeds” — or “throttling” — once they reached a certain amount of data for the month — in this case, 17 GB.
FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc says in a statement that T-Mobile violated the FCC’s 2010 internet transparency rules.
“Consumers should not have to guess whether so-called ‘unlimited’ data plans contain key restrictions, like speed constraints, data caps, and other material limitations. When broadband providers are accurate, honest and upfront in their ads and disclosures, consumers aren’t surprised and they get what they’ve paid for. “
The FCC says the $48 million settlement package will cover the following:
- A $7.5 million fine from the FCC.
- $35.5 million in benefits for customers with unlimited plans from T-Mobile or MetroPCS.
- Spending $5 million on equipment and services for American schools “to bridge the homework gap facing today’s students.
T-Mobile and MetroPCS customers who are eligible for benefits — including a 20 percent discount or up to $20 off an in-stock accessory as well as 4 GB of additional data for any mobile data line — will be notified about the benefits by Dec. 15. Go to the T-Mobile site or MetroPCS for more information.
As part of the settlement, T-Mobile has also agreed to update its policy disclosures and inform customers when they are near the monthly data threshold.
AT&T was accused by the FCC of a similar offense in 2015. The telecom giant agreed to a $100 million fine for allegedly misleading its customers about its “unlimited” data plan.
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