T-Mobile - life's for sharing. And lies and intimidation, too.

30 October 2009

Lies and intimidation are hardly the proper way to go about business, but that hasn't stopped T-Mobile trying to prevent customers complaining about increases in call charges. Bitterwallet has proof that consumers were deliberately misinformed by T-Mobile staff concerning their right to independent arbitration by the Ofcom-approved adjudicators, CISAS.

T-Mobile recently increased the cost of international roaming for all customers, and have maintained from the beginning that roaming is an "additional service" and as such excluded from the clauses allowing a customer to cancel their agreement without penalty. We proved that the charges are an inclusive part of a customer's agreement, and earlier this week Ofcom confirmed to Bitterwallet that "if the increased roaming charges are genuinely of material detriment to a consumer then under General Condition 9.3, T-Mobile should inform the Consumer of the ability to terminate the contract without penalty."

From your comments and emails we hadn't seen any evidence of this occurring, so we suggested how you could move your complaint forward. In situations where customers cannot resolve their complaint with T-Mobile, service providers are required to inform customers of their option to independent resolution through CISAS, an Ofcom-approved arbitration process. Except that wasn't quite what was happening.

Customer correspondence sent by T-Mobile has been passed on to Bitterwallet, confirming attempts by T-Mobile to coerce the customer into not complaining to CISAS by:

  • stating that other customers had already contacted CISAS about the increases in roaming charges, and that CISAS ruled in favour of T-Mobile 100 per cent of the time
  • telling customers that any decision by CISAS was final, and as such any complaint could not then be contested in court
  • in further conversations with two individual members of T-Mobile's Complaints Investigations team, a customer was told that T-Moble had consulted with CISAS about the changes before they were announced

To summarise - T-Mobile told customers they had no chance of winning by going to CISAS, that they'd lose any right to take T-Mobile to court by going to CISAS, and that CISAS had rubber-stamped the changes anyway. The first statement is intimidation; we don't think that's what a service provider should be saying when looking to resolve a complaint through independent arbitration. The second statement is intimidation and a lie, since the CISAS website states "if you reject the decision, the company do not need to keep to it - you will still be able to take your complaint to court". And CISAS are very clear that their role is to provide arbitration for resolving complaints independent of either party; not only would any prior consultation or agreement between the two contradict the role of CISAS as an independent adjudicator, but it would step well outside the remit agreed with Ofcom.

As an aside, one email from T-Mobile also stated that:

"I have also spoken with our legal department in relation to your previous email. They have confirmed OFCOM have advised that the forum you got the information from has misquoted OFCOM and they are looking at bitterwallet.com in relation to this."

It was the first we'd heard of it so we contacted Ofcom about misquoting them, as well as the other statements T-Mobile made concerning CISAS. Ofcom have now told us that they contacted T-Mobile this morning to discuss our findings, and as a result have advised management that the statements made by their staff were not true, were not to be expected in these situations, and should not be repeated in the future.

As an aside, another email from T-Mobile has defined their interpretation of "material detriment" as the increased charges being likely to cause a 10 per cent increase in a customer's overall payment. Our opinion would be that this should be contested by customers with CISAS. By including line rental, bolt-ons and VAT in the calculation, T-Mobile are making any increase appear less detrimental, since it will be a smaller percentage of the total. However, the changes in roaming charges are universal and so unaffected by a customer's line rental plan or other additional costs. The point of material detriment is whether the increases will cause your call charges to increase, so as we pointed out, this calculation should be based on call charges alone, not the overall bill.

TOPICS:   Mobile

40 comments

  • CompactDistance
    Well they're fighting their corner aren't they. Shame they're obviously doomed to lose sooner or later. Now if T-Mobile could be mandated to compensate everyone for this waste of time and effort then they might think twice before trying to ram-road increased charges down existing contracts.
  • Paul
    Does anyone else not think that a simple statement issued on the Ofcom website would end all of this bother and force T-Mobile to accept defeat?
  • Patrick
    Just rung ofcom and complained they gave me the exact statement that Bitterwallet posted earlier this week. So im going to ring t-mobile and give them my reference number so they can hear it for themselves. Was told the manager would ring me back after speaking to the legal team but nothing has happened 2 days later so will try this once more.
  • Scott
    This intrigues me as I am a T-Mobile customer. I have nothing but praise for my own dealings with them but this situation has made me wonder if I would want to remain with them once my contract is up.
  • The B.
    Seriously though, it's T-Mobile, the network designed for students and doleys, if you wanted decent service why did you ever contemplate them? Where will you go next? Phones 4 U?
  • Dave S.
    Well, I am going to leave before they make a change that does affect me (once I get an upgrade). I hear that Orange and O2 also have issue but at least admit when they have been defeated. T-Mobile, you should be ashamed of your staff... why lie?
  • pique
    The ability to roam is not part of your contract, so if people are that concerned about the charges, they neednt use it and request to have the service switched off. It seems to me, as soon as anybody (doley, student or other) sniffs a chance to get out of their contract, they all jump on the bandwagon
  • Paul S.
    Hey Pique, thanks for joining the Bitterwallet community. Maybe it's worth having a read of the previous posts on the topic before commenting, eh? Roaming is part and parcel of a customer's agreement with T-Mobile, and as Ofcom have pointed out - if it adversely affects a customer, they have the right to cancel without charge. Cheers!
  • pique
    Hey Paul Smith I suggest maybe reading your contract rather than believing what you read on a website. You cannot make part of your contact services offered by a different company. You may expect to watch BBC1 on Sky for example, but if BBC1 was not available, it is not part of your deal with Sky. Mobile networks offer guarantees for the services THEY can offer, any additional is a nice to have, not a must have
  • Gareth H.
    i'm neither a doley or a student. i've been a loyal customer to one-2-one for over 13 years. The increase in roaming charges will have an effect on me, i've been outwith europe on more than 3 occasions this year, outside of Europe being where the highest increases are. Dave Simpson, maybe we can go out for a drink later and batter some gays, single mothers or ethnics? Pique, yes i'm jumping on the bandwagon because what t-mobile is doing is completely unfair, faield to justify the increase in cost and will have a large effect on my monthly bills. Maybe you want to come out for a drink later too?
  • doley/student
    " REAL BOB" " pique" What a pair of donkeys, E HAW E HAW the network designed for students and doleys, doley, student or other) This is supposed to be about T Mobile contracts ,THE TWO OF YOU DECIDE TO RIP INTO ANY SECTIONS OF SOCIETY YOU FEEL LIKE AND SNEER AT STUDENTS AND THE UNEMPLOYED. WHAT MAKES THE TWO OF YOU SOCIAL COMMENTATORS OF OUR TIME ??????????? GET DOWN FROM YOUR YOUR HIGH HORSES, WHAT KIND OF SUPER BEING DO YOU THINK YOU ARE ?? CLOSED MINDED DIMWITS , NEED A DONKEY TO PIN A TAIL ON , REALLY NARROW MINDED BOB AND HIS SIDEKICK PISSE, YOU WOULD BE ASHAMED IF YOU WERE A HUMAN BEING S BUT ALAS NOT ,,,,DONKEYS
  • Patrick
    All t-mobile customer service leaders have just had a meeting as of 15:00 today with the legal team. I've just been given a statement from t-mobile that they will not allow me to cancel and it is still considered an additional charge. I've told the supervisor (again) Ofcom's stand and currently on hold. So kets see what they have in reply to this.
  • Patrick
    Nope, just been told to email again to [email protected] which is useless as I rarely recieve a reply anyway. They aren't having any of it.
  • Paul S.
    Hey Pique I suggest you read this quote from Ofcom: "It is our view that if the increased roaming charges are genuinely of material detriment to a consumer then under General Condition 9.3, T-Mobile should inform the Consumer of the ability to terminate the contract without penalty." Good lad.
  • pique
    Hey doley/student I think you missed the irony in me saying that. I was pointing out that inferring certain areas of society should be treated differently by Real Bob was pathetic
  • me
    to be honest, this is a mountain out of a molehill, its like getting out of something on a technicality. What I dont understand is why on earth people bother getting out of contracts early - Id only ever sign up for a contract if I were happy to have it for the designated length of time (and thats on of the reasons I dont bother with 24 month contracts). If you cant do the time, dont do the cri- well, dont sign up for the contract!
  • Patrick
    Ofcom suggest asking T-mobile for this in writing (deadlock letter) then taking this to CISAS if you really want to go threw with it, under G.C 9.3 if you can prove you will/have been affected they will be forced to allow you to leave with no ETF
  • pique
    Hey Paul Smith Ofcom are never wrong are they? Im quite confident, since I deal with contract law that regardless of Ofcoms VIEW, as you quite clearly point out, and not Ofcoms JUDGEMENT (although they are quite powerless anyway) that my VIEW will be correct.
  • Paul S.
    @me - there are some people - small businesses or who do a lot of travelling - who will get screwed over by the changes. They're not tiny, they're the likes of 50p per minute up to £1.20 per minute. It's not unreasonable to question an agreement made in good faith makes changes that aren't in your interest. The service provider doesn't automatically win the fight because they're bigger than you.
  • BobF
    This seems to be the important part of the attempted "get outs" “if the increased roaming charges are genuinely of material detriment to a consumer then under General Condition 9.3, T-Mobile should inform the Consumer of the ability to terminate the contract without penalty.” Note it says "are genuinely" not "might be of some detriment in the future". Whilst noone likes increases such as this, and T-Mobile arent exactly playing by the rules either, there do seem to be a lot of people just trying to ditch their contract by any means possible.
  • iCock
    You're all shag-pots and wundrell-dogs. If I ever saw a twainster 'pon my shingle-faery, I'd be damn sure to befamell his douchengine with berschprigenhoffs, STOP FISTING MY FUNKSTER!!!
  • Paul S.
    Wow Pique, you certainly know your stuff. Except for the fact that consumer law beats contract law on any day of the week. The regulators are saying that T-Mobile are breaking their General Conditions of service if they don't offer those likely to suffer material detriment the right to cancel without penalty. That is not a mark in T-Mobile's favour. It's very likely that the contract would be deemed unfair in the eyes of the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations. That'd be for a judge to decide of course, not you or I, but ultimately contract law's not worth shit if it doesn't adhere to consumer law.
  • Paul S.
    BobF - if I can prove that I'm working in Spain for the next six weeks, I will genuinely suffer material detriment. Ofcom refuse to define material detriment - it's to be judged on a case-by-case basis. Therefore in the eyes of the service provider or CISAS, it's entirely possible to prove material detriment in the forseeable future. If you can't, then the inclusion of the term is meaningless. We've never suggested people try and dodge out of contracts for the sake of it - at the same time, if consumers have a genuine right to cancel without charge, they should be able to.
  • doley/student
    Hey doley/student I think you missed the irony in me saying that. I was pointing out that inferring certain areas of society should be treated differently by Real Bob was pathetic IRONY ,LIKE SILVERY AND GOLDIE ?? YOU WOULDN`T KNOW IRONY IF IT RAN YOU OVER IRONIC.
  • The B.
    Greetings doley/student, even though you're apparently neither so I'm assuming you must grasp the concept of irony. I'm sorry, did I offend you in some way? I'm assuming that your rather rabid defence means that you are a T-Mobile customer? The reason I chose students was because they are on a tight budget and don't really care about their phones or network just that it's cheap, the same with people on the dole, thus T-Mobile appears to be the network of choice for both groups, certainly I don't know anyone who earns money and uses them. The point I was making was that if you feel the need to choose something on the basis of price over quality then you can hardly expect not to have a fight on your hands if something does go wrong (as it invariably will if you choose the cheaper substitute). At the end of the day, if you're not happy with a service do something about it.
  • Tom P.
    Just take all this shit to Martin Lewis (Consumer Journalist of the Year 2009), and let him sort it out!
  • doley/student
    bob, I’m assuming that your rather rabid defence means that you are a T-Mobile customer? ASS umption , DO A LOT OF THAT THEN bob ?? NO , JUST READ WHAT YOU SAID bob , ANALOGYS USING ANY SOCIAL GROUPS YOU CHOOSE TO FIT,, NOT VERY CREATIVE ,SHOWS A LACK OF IMAGINATION AND INTELLIGENCE. I JUST DONT LIKE TO SEE SMALL MINDED PEOPLE LIKE YOU GENERALISING ABOUT WHOLE GROUPS OF PEOPLE ON THEIR SOCIAL ECONOMIC CIRCUMSTANCES. MONEY DONT MAKE YOU SMART bob,,
  • The B.
    Doley/student, I don't believe I said that money made me smart, knowing how to turn off Caps Lock makes me smart, not having to resort to vulgarities to make a point makes me smart, punctuating sentences correctly makes me smart, but no, money certainly doesn’t make me smart, comfortable, perhaps, and possibly more tolerant of the feeble minded who come into the above categories.
  • doley/student
    CHEERS bob, comfortable, perhaps, and possibly more tolerant of the feeble minded who come into the above categories. FEEBLE MINDED bob, HOWS THAT FOR PUNCTUATION ??? DONT AVOID WHAT YOU SAID,JUST ADD THE FEEBLE MINDED ,ANYONE ELSE ?? STUDENT /DOLEY/FEEBLE MINDED , U AINT NO SORT OF "SMART "AT ALL bob.
  • The B.
    I ain't no sort of smart at all? Am I supposed to be offended? Seriously? Oh, and apologies for forgetting to hyphenate feeble-minded but you know how one's mind wanders when your heart's not really into the trolling, it only really works if you have some decent competition.
  • doley/student
    bob, a competition ?? I WAS REFERING TO YOU AS A SMALL MINDED NOT TO INTELLIGENT BIGOT . HYPHENATE ,THAT EXPLAINS YOUR BIGOTTED VIEWS A TREAT, DISTRACTIONS THE BEST WAY TO AVOID THE ISSUE WOULDN`T YOU SAY bob ?? OFFENDED ??? NOT WITH THE HIDE OF A DONKEY U AINT, SMALL MINDED ,SMALL BRAIN, INTELLIGENT YOU ??? NOW THATS FUNNY.
  • Nirave
    I just had a phone call from a Customer Services manager who tried to offer me the Traveller option to bring calls received down to £1/month. First he offered it for 3 months, then 6 months, then remainder of contract (like 14 months). Refused to accept it and said I want ETF waived. He said he will discuss with legal team and come back to me next week. Anyone else with any other news?
  • Ten B.
    [...] Beautiful, lying, lovely customer-intimidating T-Mobile. [...]
  • The B.
    @The Real Bob "Doley/student, I don’t believe I said that money made me smart, knowing how to turn off Caps Lock makes me smart, not having to resort to vulgarities to make a point makes me smart, punctuating sentences correctly makes me smart, but no, money certainly doesn’t make me smart, comfortable, perhaps, and possibly more tolerant of the feeble minded who come into the above categories." I think what you meant to say, since you obviously know how to "punctuate sentences correctly" is... Doley/student, I don’t believe I said that money made me smart, Knowing how to turn off Caps Lock makes me smart. Not having to resort to vulgarities to make a point makes me smart. Punctuating sentences correctly makes me smart. But no, money certainly doesn’t make me smart - comfortable perhaps, and possibly more tolerant of the feeble minded who come into the above categories.... and then you finish the sentence rather than let it trail off. Well done for showing your mastery of the English language.
  • serialexperiments
    I am a customer who does indeed suffer a material detriment due to the increase in roaming charges. Thanks to work I travel outside the UK from Monday to Friday every week. I told T-Mobile about this and they told me where to go. In the end I've been forced to get a new sim card on pay as you go from another phone company as it works out cheaper than paying T-Mobile's extra fees. The worst thing was that I asked if I could move my existing number and get a PAC code without terminating my contract (remember, my phone is used for work so it's a massive upheaval to change the number), so that I could at least still use T-Mobile at weekends when I am in the UK. They said no, and their legal position was final, and that I could take them to court if I wasn't happy.
  • BobF
    "We’ve never suggested people try and dodge out of contracts for the sake of it – at the same time, if consumers have a genuine right to cancel without charge, they should be able to." Hehe, just a shame that most of the comments in every mobile contract change post seem to indicate that those posting want any excuse to get out of their contracts, thats all. And I agree, proving material detriment is tricky, but like most things that require some sort of "proof of finance" its based on the past, not the future.
  • Gareth H.
    good day, i have been on the phone to customer services this morning and proving material detriment is not really the issue. T-mobile are steadfast in believing they have not breached any terms & conditions and that despite their website saying to the contrary, their legal team firmly believe that roaming falls under 7.1.2, see below for the response from customer services. I have contacted our legal team about closing your account due to increase in roaming charges. As you are aware, we are unable to close your account without cancellation charges as the change falls under point 7.1.2 of our terms and conditions and not 7.1.4. 7.1.2. We can suspend, change, increase the price or withdraw part or all of the Additional Services on given active users of the Additional Services a reasonable period of Written Notice. The charge will then apply to You once that notice has run out. 7.1.4. We can increase any Price Plan Charge. We will give You Written Notice 30 days before We do so. The change will then apply to You once that notice runs out. Please find our response below each question. 1. Your response on the telephone states that roaming falls under non-standard charges, however, the terms and conditions of roaming are set out in the standard Terms of Service? Why is this? As roaming is not part of your plan, it is not covered under the standard charges. Standard charges would be anything that is included in your core price plan (Flext 35). We may refer to roaming from time to time in our terms and conditions. However, different issues can be linked to roaming and need highlighting, such as point 3.6 which is related to customers who live near a border and may pick up an international network. 2. If roaming is classed as an additional service, why is it inherent to the phone and contract and not listed as an additional service I can add? Roaming is not provisioned for every customer. Thank you for including the link to our website. However, this clearly states that roaming may not be set up, as this is an additional feature which may come at an additional cost. 3. Your terms of service state that use of roaming may be mandatory if the T-mobile network can not provide service. How can an additional service be mandatory? Unfortunately, I am unable to locate the section of our terms and conditions which state roaming is mandatory. Point 3.6 does state that if you live near a border you may pick up an international network. However, if this additional service is not set up on your account, then this point would not be applicable. i would love some productive feedback on this? If their legal team can justify to CISAS then i dont see a happy ending.
  • raj
    @ Gareth Hutchinson: If CISAS find roaming to be an additional service then your contract is unfair under The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999. Ofcom have advised T-Mobile that if Roaming is a material detriment then T-Mobile should cancel under general terms of contract (see previous BW posts) Get Ofcom’s position in writing… If you can prove material detriment (travel documents etc.) provide this with your CISAS application with Ofcom’s decision and all should be a happy ending.
  • Gareth H.
    Thanks raj, i'm waiting for a response from Ofcom before i go to CISAS, its the difficulty that although Ofcom have issued statements to bitterwallet, they havent issued them on their website or made it official. Fingers crossed i'll get the response i need from them.
  • doley/student
    bob , YOU ARE WITHOUT DOUBT IN NEED OF MEDICATION,LOTS OF IT. U ARE A DONKEY 100% BONKERS, GO CRAWL BACK TO YOUR STABLE AND BOIL YOUR HEAD.

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