Class action nails T-Mobile USA over texting services
T-Mobile USA Inc. has been hit with a class action suit over alleged charges for text messages received by consumers who do not want the feature.
The suit, recently filed in the U.S. District Court in Seattle, claims T-Mobile USA charges for text messages regardless of whether customers want the missives.
“T-Mobile refuses to disable the texting messaging feature on its customers’ accounts, even when the customer has no interest in sending, or, more importantly, receiving text messages,” stated plaintiffs representing Maria Detwiler and others. “Moreover, T-Mobile requires each of its customers who have not subscribed to one of T-Mobile’s Messaging Value Bundles to pay for each and every unsolicited text message they receive. In sum, T-Mobile, the party with the superior bargaining power, has carried out a wrongful business scheme regarding text messaging to deliberately cheat a large number of consumers out of individually small sums of money.”
The plaintiffs allege T-Mobile USA’s texting policy violates federal telecom law and Washington state’s consumer protection-unfair business practices act. The suit did not contain a dollar figure for alleged damages. T-Mobile USA is based in Bellvue, Wash.
“T-Mobile does not comment on pending litigation,” said a spokesperson at public relations firm that represents T-Mobile.
Charging subscribers for unwanted text messages does not appear particularly unusual in the wireless industry. Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel Corp., however, said there are remedies they offer customers to disable texting capability altogether. AT&T Mobility did not respond to an e-mail request for comment.
In the class action suit at issue, Detwiler asserts T-Mobile USA refused her request to turn off the text feature on her phone.
On a related front, South Dakota Attorney General Larry Long issued a warning to cellphone users to be on the watch for unsolicited charges on their monthly bills. Long said the Consumer Protection Division has received complaints from consumers statewide who have received unwanted text messages for ringtones, images, joke-a-day services, horoscopes and more.
“These charges are showing up on monthly bills described as ‘download’ with no further explanation,” stated Long. “They often come with a recurring monthly fee and unless you are looking closely you might not notice these types of charges on your bill. If you do not have text messaging as part of your monthly plan you will also receive an additional charge from your carrier for each text message received.”