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Metro’s $20 Home Internet Has No Catches?

Metro by T-Mobile is a prepaid cell service provider (formerly Metro PCS) that also offers 5G home internet. In this commercial that began running last month, they promise an unbelievable deal — only $20 a month for internet service. And they say there are no catches and no “exploding bills.”

Click arrow to play commercial

No catches? Really?


Metro fine print

In order to get the $20 internet service you have to (1) qualify for the federal Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), (2) buy a monthly cell phone plan from Metro, (3) pay $25 the first month not $20, (4) sign up for autopay, and (5) be able to access the 5G service which is only available in certain cities/areas.

The federal program provides a $30 a month discount to those with households whose income is no more than 200% of the federal poverty level or if at least one person is on Medicaid, Section 8, or one of several other social welfare programs. Metro’s advertised $20 monthly rate already reflects that $30 discount.

On top of all that, this federal program is winding down this week and will no longer accept applications after February 7, 2024! The money for existing enrollees is expected to run out by May. And then, contrary to the Metro’s promise of “no exploding bills,” subscribers’ monthly bills will likely more than double.

Despite the FCC’s January 11 announcement of the end of the ACP program, Metro continued to run the commercials for their $20 internet service at least through January 26.

We asked Metro’s PR folks if it was fair to orally advertise “no catches” (1) when there were so many qualifications only disclosed in fine print, and (2) when the vast majority of viewers will not be eligible for the advertised price. The company responded in relevant part:

We are in the process of replacing this ad prior to the last day of sign ups. {A] key goal of this campaign [is] … to help educate millions of Americans … about a more affordable, flexible option for home internet. Of course, all the advertising always noted that ACP was eligible for “qualifying customers” in larger font.

I’m sorry, the net impression created by that ad is that Metro itself is offering $20 internet with no strings attached. The requirement of first needing to be approved for a federal program is anything but clearly disclosed (and certainly not in large type). It’s great if a company wants to promote a federal program to help lower income people with their bills, but just come out and say that’s what it really is.

In our view, then, this ad is extremely misleading as presented. We’ve asked the National Advertising Division (NAD) of Better Business Bureau National Programs to review the case.

What do you think of advertising like this?

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20 thoughts on “Metro’s $20 Home Internet Has No Catches?”

  1. just another normal way of being lied to..,Govt needs to step
    up and start millions of dollars for deceptive ads but lobbyist pay lawmakers too much $$ so never gonna happen..

  2. This is pretty deceptive, but I’m less concerned about if the ACP wasn’t ending. Whilst it probably should be more clearly explained, the inevitability of the welfare stands lends itself to companies taking advantage of it as much as they can. When you can offer companies free money in exchange for getting people to sign up for something, they’re going to do that. Just look at all the “You can get a free cell phone!” ads that were on TV back when cell service was offered to that extent. It’s a pretty sweet deal for the company, they get $X for each customer they get to pick up a free cellphone.

    In this case, Metro is getting more money from the government per person signing up than they are even from the person, so I fully expect them to use any means necessary to get people in the door paying that $20/mo. Which doesn’t make the ad okay.

  3. I agree. The ad for Metro’s home internet is VERY misleading. Most of the time, the ‘fine print’ in ANY commercial is hardly visible and often not on the screen long enough to read.

  4. The unholy and unethical alliance of lawmakers, bureaucrats, and big business can predictably spawn behavior like this. Power and money — the motivation to join hands is far too great for them to not take advantage of it all. And far too many voters keep fueling the engine.

  5. “At Metro we don’t lock you into a contract that explodes after your first year.” Nope, it explodes well BEFORE your first year, going from $20 to $50!

  6. We supposedly educate our citizens in the United States. This includes both learning how to read and hopefully coming to understand that there is no free lunch. Anyone has learned these basics should read all the terms of T-Mobile’s offensive “offer”, not just the “come-on” promo, and read it with a jaundiced eye. While I appreciate T-Mobile’s motivation and hyperbole (if not clearly deceptive advertising), I wouldn’t dream of wasting my time on it, as much as I would like cheaper internet service. Simply put, there just is no free lunch.

  7. My discount with my cable company (Spectrum) expired last month so I called them to get a new deal. They told me that the best way to lower my cable bill was to apply for ACP, and even e-mailed me a link to the site, even though I told them that there was no way that I would qualify.

    • That you don’t quality for ACP doesn’t make their statement incorrect. That is the best way they see for you to get a discount because they don’t care to offer you anything. You should actually see if you can get T-Mobile or Verizon home internet in your area. If you can, letting Spectrum know about that might help them find an internal discount to offer you.

  8. It’s like saying, get ready to watch the Big Game next Sunday 11 February on TV when you don’t have cable or internet service, and your local TV stations have changed over to ATSC 3.0 (NextGen TV), which your 1-yr old TV cannot get.

    • Your local stations are required by the FCC to broadcast the regular digital signal through at least April 2027, in addition to 3.0; rescan your channels if you’ve lost the digital one.

  9. We need to face the fact, that the vast amount of ads are deliberately deceiving. As for the mouseprint, look at it and you can see why it’s called mouseprint. Even if you could read it from 10 feet away, it;s only on scree for too short a time. Sometimes I will freeze the screen with my dvr, and get closeup to read it.

  10. Cricket is my phone provider and it sent out a similair notice. Haven’t got another yet with details, just that the government program is ending. I’ll send Consumer World more as soon as I receive any.

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