The word “unlimited” is probably the most abused word in the English language when it comes to the marketing of telecommunications and Internet services. Some companies claim “unlimited” calling, when in fact there are limits. Others claim “unlimited” Internet useage, when in fact there are limits.
The latest example of an “unlimited” claim comes from T-Mobile. They are offering a family plan with “unlimited” data, talk, and text for only $49.99 per line, when you get two lines. Here is part of their TV ad:
Unfortunately for TV viewers, the fine print is virtually unreadable because of the busy background over which it appears.
“Includes 2GB of full speed data. After 2 gigabytes speeds reduced up to 2G speeds.”
In essence, the company is saying they won’t cut off your data connection or charge you more if you exceed two gigs of downloading during a month, but they will make the experience unpleasantly slow (“throttling”) beyond that. They have placed a limit on the amount of data delivered at 4G speed you can have. Period.
Too bad they are not a little more upfront about the limit because the $49.99 price is one of the best deals out there for 4G service (even with the limit)… except for one thing:
As noted by Michael L., our first commenter, if you don’t already have a T-Mobile phone, you have to buy one from them at the full, unsubsidized price. That could mean spending as much as $500 for the fanciest phones. A T-Mobile salesperson told Mouse Print* that they spread the cost of over 20 months after making a down payment. The fact that you have to buy a full price phone is not disclosed anywhere in the company’s television advertising, and you have to dig into their website to learn the catch.