The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

June 23, 2013

Joplin woman benefits from legal settlement with cellphone company

JOPLIN, Mo. — An agreement between the Washington state attorney general and cellular company T-Mobile has worked to the benefit of one Joplin woman and could affect more of the company’s customers in the area.

Jane Daniels said she had a specific request when she talked with an employee at the T-Mobile kiosk at Northpark Mall in April.

“I don’t want the bill to be more than $50 (per month),” Daniels said.

She paid $107 at the store, which she said she thought covered the cost for the phone, but it turned out to be just a down payment.

Subsequent bills also were well above her $50 threshold.

While she later learned that her plan was $50 — the lowest-price plan T-Mobile offers — she also learned that she was making a payment on the phone, as well as paying for the insurance and a warranty for it.

She said she couldn’t afford that, so she canceled her service and took her phone back to the kiosk. She said the employee refused to take the phone and told her she would have to pay for it. The balance remaining on her bill for the LG Google Nexus 4 phone was $408.

According to Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, T-Mobile earlier this year had launched a new type of wireless service plan, claiming to offer “no restrictions,” “no annual contract” and no requirement that the consumer “serve a two-year sentence.”

But, this new plan did not include a phone. Instead, the company provided the option for consumers to purchase a phone at a monthly rate over a two-year period. It also let customers bring their own phone or pay the entire cost of the phone upfront.

Many other cell providers subsidize the cost of the phone with the contract, typically for two years. T-Mobile charges for the phone and the plan separately, so when the phone is paid off, the customer’s bill decreases. But if the plan is canceled, the customer still has to pay for the phone. With other providers, customers must pay a fee, sometimes hefty, to cancel a contract early.

According to Ferguson, consumers who canceled their T-Mobile wireless service were sometimes left with a “balloon payment” for the phone and equipment that in some cases was higher than termination fees for other wireless carriers.

Ferguson found T-Mobile’s practice deceptive and said the company failed to adequately notify customers of the cancellation terms. T-Mobile’s offices are in Bellevue, Wash.

Ferguson said in an April 25 statement announcing the agreement: “My office identified that T-Mobile was failing to adequately disclose a critical component of their new plan to consumers, and we acted quickly to stop this practice and protect consumers across the country from harm.”

As part of the agreement, T-Mobile had to inform customers nationwide and offer refunds to those who purchased a plan and a phone between March 26 and April 25.

That included Daniels.

She said that when she took her phone and the postcard explaining the agreement back to the T-Mobile kiosk, it wasn’t honored initially.

Daniels then called the number on the card. When she did, a person she spoke with told her to return to the kiosk with the phone and it would be accepted.

She successfully returned the phone at the kiosk earlier this month, and part of her money was refunded. She was told that she would receive the rest of the money due to her in the form of a check from T-Mobile.

Daniels said the kiosk employee apologized to her for the problems.

The employee declined to speak with a reporter, referring questions to a corporate media spokeswoman. The spokeswoman didn’t return messages left by the Globe over the course of three days.

Agreement

UNDER THE AGREEMENT between T-Mobile and the Washington state attorney general, the company must make clear to future customers the consequences of canceling the service plan.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Pseudoephedrine sales in Pittsburg to require prescription

    Starting Friday, those who purchase pseudoephedrine and related products in Pittsburg will need a prescription to do so.

    July 22, 2014

  • Cherokee County Commission accepts general counsel's resignation

    Kevin Cure, who has served as general counsel for the Cherokee County Commission since 2005, submitted a handwritten resignation to the board on Monday in the aftermath of a landfill controversy.

    July 22, 2014

  • Mike Pound 2010.jpg Mike Pound: Parents can get help with school supplies

    I don’t know much about demographics other than the fact that I no longer belong to a “targeted demographic.” When I was younger, I was bombarded by commercials and ads from companies that were trying to sell me things that I not only needed but wanted.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jasper County Commission reviews traffic plans

    The Jasper County Commission will hold public hearings today and Thursday on a number of traffic changes proposed in the county. No one spoke when the first hearing was held Tuesday as part of the regular commission meeting, according to Jim Honey, Eastern District associate commissioner.

    July 22, 2014

  • Joplin school board reviews audit procedures

    A team from the Missouri State Auditor’s Office has begun requesting documents in its task to audit the operations and management of the Joplin School District, the audit manager told the Board of Education on Tuesday.

    July 22, 2014

  • Joplin man to stand trial in accident case

    A passenger accused of causing an accident on Interstate 44 in Joplin that injured three others as well as himself was ordered bound over for trial Tuesday on three felony counts.

    July 22, 2014

  • r072214soroptimist3.jpg Volunteers spend week providing camp experience to foster youths

    Karen McGlamery is a massage therapist. Terri Falis-Cochran is a finance manager. Jane McCaulley is a retired art teacher. But for a week each summer, the three are among dozens of area residents who become camp counselors.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Neosho school board hires company to manage substitutes

    Citing its hopes of shifting health care costs and utilizing more time from retired teachers, the Neosho Board of Education granted a contract Monday to a temporary employee company to manage its substitute teacher program.

    July 22, 2014

  • Main Street TIF district study to begin

    A measure that allows the city to charge its $15,000 in administrative costs for studying a proposal to create a tax increment financing district on South Main Street was approved Monday by the Joplin City Council.

    July 21, 2014

  • Carthage man pleads guilty in sexual abuse case

    A Carthage man pleaded guilty Monday to sexual abuse of a 12-year-old girl in a plea agreement that would cap the length of his prison term at no more than 15 years.

    July 21, 2014

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

A state lawmaker who is one of two doctors in the Oklahoma Legislature is insisting that unaccompanied immigrant minors being housed at Fort Sill be quarantined. Do you think those kinds of measures should be taken?

A. Yes.
B. No.
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter