Before You Sign Up for That $15 T-Mobile Plan…

As part of its agreement to merge with Sprint, T-Mobile promised to offer a really cheap basic plan. And they have launched it earlier than planned to help people who are watching every penny in these tough times.

T-Mobile $15 a month plan

While this is one of the cheapest plans ever offered directly from a major carrier and the extra data provided each year is a valuable extra benefit, buried in the fine print is a nasty surprise.

*MOUSE PRINT:

T-Mobile fine printFine print shown ACTUAL SIZE

This is just part of a huge block of virtually unreadable fine print that appears on the offer page.

The key part says that after you use up your two gigabyte monthly data allowance, your data completely shuts off rather than just decreases to a crawl as almost every other plan does these days. (You can buy extra data at an unspecified premium price, however.)

Note that Tello offers a 2-gb plan with unlimited calls/texts for just $14 and it slows speeds if you run out of high-speed data. You must use a Sprint-compatible phone for that service. ++

++ Consumer World will earn a small commission if you sign up for Tello using referral code P3F3SR3J .

Is Sprint Misleading Customers or the FCC?

Sprint and T-Mobile are seeking to merge. As part of that process, they have to convince the FCC that the merger will not harm competition and would be good for customers.

To this end, Sprint submitted a filing to the FCC on September 25 claiming that its LTE data network was inferior to the other major carriers and they needed a partner to compete better.

Sprint Network Click Chart to Enlarge

Sprint’s coverage is depicted in yellow. You can see, for example, on the map of the U.S. on the right, that Sprint has a much more limited network than Verizon (in red). In fact, the company tells the FCC that its network covers “a much smaller geography” than the other carriers and therefore it needs to merge.

However, if you compare the coverage map from the Sprint website below directed toward customers with the ones above, Sprint makes it appear that its network coverage is very robust and broad.

Sprint network

*MOUSE PRINT:

Only in the tiniest fine print footnote does Sprint disclose that the above map includes roaming coverage, meaning areas where other companies have coverage and share it with Sprint customers. The map also includes non-LTE data coverage that they cleverly omitted from the FCC map.

footnote

In addition, the company tells the FCC it has problems with its network:

“Poor network experience is a leading cause of Sprint’s subscriber churn.”

“…consistency challenges impact both network performance and customer perception”

“Sprint has not been able to invest sufficient capital to achieve network performance necessary to attract and retain enough subscribers to improve its scale.”

Funny thing, Sprint has advertised for years on television that there is only a 1% difference in its network reliability compared to the competition.



2016 Commercial


2018 Commercial

Noting these contradictions, we asked the PR folks at Sprint some very pointed questions:

(1) Which is more accurate — what Sprint presented to the FCC or what they advertise to customers?

(2) If the FCC coverage map is more accurate, how does Sprint respond to customers who feel the company exaggerated its coverage area?

(3) Which is correct — Sprint’s network performance is lacking or it’s 99% that of competitors?

A Sprint spokesperson tersely responded:

“Thanks for reaching out. I don’t have anything to add to the filings. If that changes, I’ll let you know.”

Samsung Compares Apple and Oranges

A new commercial from Samsung urges viewers to upgrade their iPhone to a Samsung Galaxy 9 because the Apple phone is slow and frustrating.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qhW1sDPHYI

There’s one big problem with this advertisement, and its secret is buried in virtually unreadable fine print.

*MOUSE PRINT:

disclaimer

What Samsung has done is compare a 2014 model of the iPhone — the iPhone 6 — with Samsung’s latest and greatest model. Had it compared the current iPhone models, the 8 and the X, the slowness depicted would have magically disappeared.