T-Mobile Slapped Me With $800 ETF Even Though I Wasn't Under Contract

Jenny signed her family up for non-contract T-Mobile plans, only to have the provider stick her with an $800 early termination fee when she tried to move to AT&T.

She writes:

Last December, we added data plans for three of our four cell phones with T-Mobile. I talked to several representatives about which plans, and was told by at least three of the four to five CSRs I spoke with that we should go with the “plus” plan, which was a “non-contract” plan. At least two of the CSRs made it clear–and pointed out that they wanted to make it clear–that we wouldn’t be able to get new phones at a discount because we would be “non-contract.” We said that was fine and changed the plan.

Last month we decided to with AT&T (iPhone fever) and I didn’t think that would be a problem because, hey, we weren’t under contract. I did try to call T-mobile but got dropped after being on hold. But, hey, we weren’t on contract so whatever.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of opening a bill from T-Mobile for $975.52. They have charged us an ETF of $800–$200 per line. A call to CS got me the enlightening information that “non-contract” actually means “your original contract.” in hindsight, I was foolish to think that T-Mobile would have let us go so easily, but we were thinking of the angles of why they would put us on a “non-contract” plan. Maybe so they could dump us if we were data hogs? It never dawned on us that “non-contract didn’t mean “no contract.”

I’m still in shock (and haven’t told my husband yet–let him carry on in blissful ignorance for a few more days). I have filed a complaint with the FCC and am looking at the Tennessee Attorney General’s page as well as looking up my Congressman’s phone number. Any other suggestions?

If anyone knows how to help Jenny out of her problem, drop your knowledge in the comments.

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