T-Mobile Complaint - Cannot Cancel Contract Signed With Fraudulent Agent Store
JERSEY CITY, NEW JERSEY -- I signed up T-Mobile's service on July 9, 2005 through US Power Wireless (T-Mobile Agent Code: 0044592; Address: 39-02B Main Street, Flushing, NY; Tel: 718-321-9188; Fax: 718-321-0388).
Although I just wanted a basic family plan (2 lines included), the agents told me that, by signing up 5 x $39.99 individual plans, I would receive a series of rebate checks, making this a better deal, even if I do not use the 3 extra lines.
However, in September, their rebate check was bounced. Phones were unanswered. Store was locked. And their bank reported insufficient funds in account (North Fork Bank, A/C: 3059-70374-8, A/C Name: U.S. Power Connection). I am left with worthless rebate checks in hand.
In essence, I was sold a service plan (5 x $39.99/per month) based on misrepresented information (that the rebates will offset higher costs) by a T-Mobile agent with no intention to honor the contract in the first place.
This is NOT a case where I am terminating the service prematurely to switch to other providers. The contract was established on fraudulent information in the first place and should be rectified accordingly.
My true intention
July: 49.99$ family plan + 2 activation fees
August: 49.99$ family plan
What I actually paid
July: 5 x 39.99$ individual plan + 5 activation fees
August: 5 x 39.99$ individual plan
I called T-Mobile several times trying to solve this issue, during a period of almost 2 months. I was first told that T-mobile received many similar complaints against that agent and would follow up. So far, no response was received.
The second time I got to speak to a supervisor, who asked me to fax in all documents. I faxed my contracts with T-mobile and with agent store, as well as bounced rebate check of that store. I got the fax receipt showing the transmission was OK. But I didn't get any returned call.
Then I called again and spoke to another rep. He said he would double-check if my fax was received and then get back to me in 3 days. I didn't receive any call.
Today I called again and spoke to yet another rep. Again my issue could not be solved without another round of investigation, which might or might not generate a response to me.
I have no complaint about all the reps I spoke with. They were all polite and did their customer service well, following company policy strictly. However, I am very frustrated by the policy (or lack of policy) of T-Mobile in solving my problem, and I do think some answers are unfair/unacceptable to consumers.
Here are some of the answers I find unacceptable:
(1) I cannot cancel an unused line, otherwise I have to pay $200 in cancellation fee. However, T-Mobile can transfer this line into my family plan (so that I can pay $10 a month, or $120 per year for a line I have no need for...)
From my perspective, this contract was established on misrepresentation and fraudulent intent of agent store. Therefore, it was not an agreement by a well informed consumer, and should be corrected. (Can I say this contract was invalid in the first place?)
This is very different from the scenario that I cancelled a contract prematurely to switch to another service provider, in which case I think an early cancellation fee is understandable.
(2) I cannot dispute charges more than 60 days ago.
I voiced my complaint to T-Mobile in September for the July & Aug bill and the possible fraudulent activity. That was definitely within the time frame. It was because T-Mobile didn't respond to me for a prolonged period of time, forcing me to call in time after time, resulting in this issue to appear as 'more than 60 days ago' in November! This is T-Mobile's fault, and I cannot accept that as a valid reason for not correcting my early bills.
(3) "T-Mobile has nothing to do with these independent stores."
True, T-Mobile does not own them, but T-Mobile does activate my service, based on request of that agent store. It would be a real stretch to say that T-Mobile has no contractual or moral responsibility in regulating agent stores' sales practice.
Let me paraphrase the whole message I got from T-Mobile: "We will do nothing. It is your problem. T-Mobile is not responsible for our agents’ activities, but we are happy to take your money, even if our agent stores misrepresented us. By the way, if you want to walk out of a contract due to unethical practice of our agents, we will hit you with a back-end fee."
As a first time customer, I am very frustrated by this entire experience. To average consumers, T-Mobile's agent store IS T-Mobile. Average consumers are not in a capacity to find out the relationship between these stores and T-Mobile, as long as T-Mobile activated the service plan. And I sign up a service plan provided by T-Mobile, not that agent. My payment went to T-Mobile first, and then T-Mobile split that with the agent store.
In communicating with T-Mobile, I have been very patient and wanted to be fair.
I NEVER requested T-Mobile to honor the rebate checks issued by that fraudulent agent store. I repeatedly told reps that I understand T-Mobile was not completely aware of what was going on. I only requested T-Mobile to allow me to back out of a wrong contract and pay what I truly intended to pay (i.e. a basic family plan for first 2 months, and family plan + 2 additional lines from 3rd month onwards.)
I have also been keeping up with the monthly bills, despite T-Mobile's unfulfilled promises that some resolution can be reached before I pay my Sept/Oct bill. I have acted in good faith despite all the outstanding disputes, and have the right to expect T-Mobile to be equally honorable in business dealings.
I urge that T-Mobile do the right thing to customers, before I escalate further.
It's not that I cannot take a few hundred dollars of loss. It is that I won't tolerate such unfair treatment. I will keep escalating or pursue legal channels, if it is not resolved. And I will spare no effort to dissuade people around me from using cell phone service providers that give me unfair treatment.