T-Mobile got themselves in some hot water not too long ago over the issue of cramming. Cramming, also sometimes referred to as slamming, is an industry term that refers to adding a charges to a customer’s bill without their consent. T-Mobile’s problem arose over premium SMS charges that a lawsuit claims were added by the company to increase revenue. John Legere of course denies the allegations, but premium SMS and other forms of cramming are still an issue. The FTC has put together a list of five things that it says will help wireless carriers avoid these types of charges in the future.
The first is giving the consumers the right to block third party charges. T-Mobile customers that had these premium SMS charges on their bills didn’t have the ability or the right to block them. Once they’re on your statement, you’re stuck with them. The FTC is recommending that carriers give subscribers the ability to block all types of third party charges. T-Mobile has since stopped working with premium SMS companies. Verizon provides their subscribers with the ability to block premium SMS messages as well.
The second thing the FTC recommends is that all marketing and advertising, as well as opt-in services, are clear and not deceptive. This means that hiding monthly charges or other costs in the fine print of advertisements is not acceptable. Any fees associated with services needs to be clear and easy to find.
Thirdly, the FTC says that wireless carriers should always get consent before charging subscribers for anything. This seems like a no-brainer, but shady practices are still used. The fourth point seems obvious as well. It’s that all charges should be clear on a customer’s bill. This doesn’t always happen, but it needs to. Hiding charges or making them difficult to understand happens more often than you’d think.
The last suggestion entails carriers making it easier for their customers to dispute transactions. Setting up a dispute resolution center or even adding training to customer service rep’s learning plans will make for more work for these companies. It’s also something that needs to happen if carriers want to be clear and above board with us. The FTC isn’t playing around, and as we’ve seen with T-Mobile, they will go to court over these allegations.