T-Mobile's big no-contract, Uncarrier campaign just hit a bit of a snag; Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has ordered the company to correct the deceptive campaign, which promised no contracts and no commitment without saying anything about hardware subsidies. T-Mobile has agreed to update the ads nationwide.
The issue stems from T-Mobile's proclivity to advertise their new plans as completely commitment free, which is only true to a point. If you just get the plan, sure, you can quit any time with no worry about any sort of penalties. If you get any hardware with the deal though, you'll get stuck having to pay it off when you leave. It's that second part that the WA Attorney General has taken issue with, because it's a contract.
He put it this way in a press release:
As Attorney General, my job is to defend consumers, ensure truth in advertising, and make sure all businesses are playing by the rules. My office identified that T-Mobile was failing to 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.
In agreeing with the Attorney General's "Assurance of Discontinuance" T-Mobile will have to make it absolutely crystal clear that any plan involving a phone is not really no-contract and does carry what is effectively an early termination fee: the balance of the phone cost. It's unclear if this means T-Mobile will have to drop the term "no-contract" in reference to anything but service-only plans or just add a BIG FAT asterisk. We've reached out to T-Mobile and we're waiting for comment on what their plan is.
Either way, it's sure to draw some attention to the fact that the Uncarrier is really just shifting the cost of the service over to the cost of the phone if you get both. [Washington State Office of the Attorney General]