Reader Wants Class-Action Text Message Lawsuit Against T-Mobile

One of our readers is so upset about the T-Mobile text increase that he wants to gather a coalition of the willing together for a class action lawsuit.

In short, his argument is this: T-Mobile has contracts with all of its existing subscribers. But instead of allowing subscribers under contract to continue sending text messages at the agreed-upon rate, T-Mobile is saying that they have to pay more, but if they don’t want to, they can opt-out of the contract with no additional penalty.

In other words, T-Mobile is enjoying the best of both worlds. It will not even blink about holding you liable for a breached contract, but it won’t honor its own terms… it will simply slather the onus on you to drop-out if you’re bothered enough to take your business elsewhere.

Of course, there’s the very real question concerning whether or not T-Mobile subscribers are even under a legally enforceable contract, which our sue-happy correspondent mentions. If they aren’t (which is probable), it stands to reason T-Mobile isn’t bound to the terms of their own contract either. Which might kill the class-action lawsuit idea, but is pretty convenient for T-Mobile, as it allows them to bully customers into thinking they are in a legally binding contract without having to deliver on any of the service guarantees that contracts usually entail.

Us? Unlike Poppy Z. Brite, we’re not really into lawsuits. Speak with your wallet, opt-out, take your business elsewhere. But if you’re interested in Gregg’s argument, it’s after the jump.

I wanted to leave a TIP on the T-Mobile text message increase, but I don’t have an invitation…

Essentially, T-Mobile’s practice of requiring a contract or service agreement goes both ways. As a OmniPoint, then VoiceStream, and now T-Mobile subscriber, I can tell you that they not only have the worst customer service (all cellular companies could give a damn about anything but your bill payment), but their unilateral increase of a customer’s rates during a contract is both unconscionable and illegal.

First of all, in several US states, all subscription agreements must be in writing. Electronic agreements are being grandfather-in, but the basic public policy behind such laws is to prevent consumer fraud. What, you say? A large corporation trying to take advantage of it’s customers? Impossible.. that would never happen!

Second, when T-Mobile or any other company (or individual) takes such an action, they surely contemplate the fact that a certain percentage of their customers will get really pisssed an leave. Moreover, if they are savvy, they will also weigh the profits from such a change against the risks associated with legal exposure from such actions. For telecommunication companies, legal exposure comes in several flavors such as regulatory violations (FCC, FTC, etc.), state and federal law, and contract violations. In the present case, persons with existing contracts are being “given” the ability to opt-out of their T-Mobile agreements without penalty. Let me state that a different way.

Persons with existing service agreements with T-Mobile can enforce their contract rights by suing T-Mobile for specific performance of the text messaging rate effective at the time of their agreement, which will remain effective until their agreement terms change due to their choice or termination of the agreement.

The problem here is that attorney’s are expensive, and everyone typically can’t afford the time or money to sue T-Mobile.

I have a solution… it’s called a class action lawsuit, and I am thinking of doing just that. My reasons are simple. T-Mobile has just DOUBLED their SMS income. By the way, SMS messages are practically free from the perspective of a service provider. Blocks of 160 characters (SMS total message size, or 140 8-bit bytes) fly through a GSM cell system almost completely unnoticed, when compared to GPRS or voice traffic. The SMS premium is absolutely outrageous when you actually calculate what it costs to send the most expensive SMS message (internationally, less that a fraction of a penny). Thus, not only do the wireless carriers make a killing on their voice service rates, but they make hundreds of time more PROFIT on SMS messages. A service provider that charges say $0.45 per minute of voice communication will realize from $30 to $60 a minute for SMS traffic, depending on the underlying digital cellular data rate.

Got a tip or story? Want to sue someone? Mail us!

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.