Have an unlimited data package with T-Mobile?
Then you better read the fine print, because even though it says it’s unlimited, there are in fact limits, and it’s causing quite a controversy with the company’s customers.
The issue arose this past Sunday, when T-Mobile CEO John Legere posted an open letter to “hackers” who are using deceptive practices to use up more than the allotted amount of tethered data.
Tethering is when you use your smartphone as a hotspot to provide your PC or other device with an internet connection.
T-Mobile’s standard unlimited 4G LTE smartphone plan includes unlimited data, with 7 GB of high-speed hotspot data; anyone who tethers more than 21 Gb a month will have their speed slowed if they are in a congested area.
Sounds fair and straightforward, right?
Technically, it is, but customers aren’t seeing it that way… and they have some valid points.
Just to be clear, customers are not sticking up for those stealing data, that’s not the problem.
The problem is that this issue has many questioning the validity of T-Mobile’s business practices.
Many are complaining that data is data, so putting a limit on tethering is a deceptive practice that makes the term unlimited a ploy to lure customers (and get them to buy a more expensive monthly data package).
This makes sense, to a degree: all data is not created equal, so if T-Mobile wants to put a cap on tethering they can, but to do so and call the plan unlimited is a shady practice that only confuses customers.
The simple and fair solution is to change the plan name, so there is no confusion and customers know exactly what they’re getting.
Dugin Vail, a T-Mobile customer, said it best in a comment to CNET: “Unlimited 4G LTE IS NOT 7GB of High Speed hotspot data. It’s unlimited data. Data is data. Everyone on T-Mobile should stream Pandora and Netflix all day to send a message to them that fine print gimmicks are not going to fly anymore…It’s either unlimited or it’s not! “.
Customers are also saying that the information explaining that there is a limit on tethering (particularly the part about going over 21 GB) is confusing and written in small print at the bottom of the page, once again trying to fool customers.
This is another valid point.
If you look on T-Mobile’s site, under data packages it does say unlimited data for smartphones only, with an asterisk.
You then have to scroll down to the bottom to see about the tethering limit, written in small print.
This information also has an asterisk, directing you to scroll down further to read about the 21 GB allowed per month at normal speeds- which is written in microscopic type.
Not to mention it is easy for the company to claim congestion, there is no way for customers to fight that.
So even though T-Mobile does have the information there in black-and-white, the way they write it is both confusing and not up-front.
As Carol, a T-Mobile customer told us: “If they are slowing down my data then I am limited, I’m not getting what I pay for. I find the fact that this is written in tiny print, coupled with the way it is worded, to be not just confusing, but a scam”.
Alex, another T-mobile user, echoed this sentiment, telling CNET:” By definition slowing [data] based on certain criteria is a Limit. As an Unlimited plan by definition says it has no limits there in lies the problem. T-Mobile would be wise to stop selling the plan as a unlimited plan, give it some other name as it has limits”
Plus, many do not read the fine print, leaving many unaware of these limits in the first place.
Should people read the fine print? Absolutely.
However, not only don’t most people do it, but companies are aware they don’t, which makes putting important information there a bit questionable.
This debate promises to rage on for a while, so my advice to consumers is to read the fine print and make sure you know exactly what you’re getting.
What do you think of the data controversy surrounding T-Mobile?
Do you find their practices deceptive or correct?
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