John Legere (pictured), the outspoken president and CEO of T-Mobile USA, claimed the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) lawsuit against the operator – regarding a premium SMS service that allegedly left customers out of pocket – showed “Washington politics and the big carrier lobbyists at their best”.
In a blog entitled ‘Doing Right By Customers’, Legere said the FTC sensationalised the story at the expense of T-Mobile’s reputation, adding that he wanted to bring the focus of the discussion back to customers.
Legere used the blog to stress that T-Mobile “is not participating in any form of cramming, stuffing charges for un-purchased services, or trying to be anything less than totally transparent with each of our customers”.
He explained that between 2009 and 2013, the big US operators, including T-Mobile, offered premium SMS services where they were billing for services on behalf of content providers who were responsible for obtaining the authorisation of customers.
Legere said all four nationwide operators in the US decided to terminate these services in November 2013, after finding “there were some fraudsters in that bunch [of content providers]”.
This goes against the view of the FTC, which alleges T-Mobile was complicit in a scam to deceive customers.
Legere went on to say this was “neither a big nor important business” for T-Mobile, meaning the FTC’s financial claims that consumers were overcharged by hundreds of millions of dollars are “incredibly overstated”.
Legere then argued that T-Mobile has and always will keep its pledge to charge customers “only for what they want and what they have purchased for as long as I am CEO of this company”.
The T-Mobile chief also pointed out that he did not want the company to have unsettled business, which has led to the recent creation of the Proactive Refund Program.
Legere said he has instructed T-Mobile’s marketing and customer care teams to “double down their outreach effort to all potentially affected customers – who believe that they were inappropriately billed and/or paid for one of these Premium SMS services that they did not want or authorise – and provide refunds”. The programme starts in the next few days.
When the FTC lawsuit was filed earlier this week, Legere described it as “sensationalised legal action”, pointing out that T-Mobile scrapped the service last year and was already in the process of reimbursing out-of-pocket customers.
“T-Mobile is fighting harder than any of the carriers to change the way the wireless industry operates and we are disappointed that the FTC has chosen to file this action against the most pro-consumer company in the industry rather than the real bad actors,” said Legere in a statement at the time.