Washington regulators don't get the T-Mobile UnCarrier plans either

Washington regulators don't get the T-Mobile UnCarrier plans either

Summary: I was frankly shocked to read the news that Washington regulators forced T-Mobile to change their honest advertising because even they are brainwashed by the carrier subsidy model here in the US. Is there any hope for the consumer?

WA State regulators don't get the T-Mobile UnCarrier plans either; is there hope for the consumer?
(Image: Apple)

Those of us who follow the smartphone world closely understand that T-Mobile's new UnCarrier plans are the most honest and fair for the consumer where you actually just pay for the device and lowest cost service. However, it seems even the Washington state Attorney General's office doesn't get it and has been brainwashed by the carrier subsidy model, according to TmoNews' report they made T-Mobile change some of their advertising and plan materials.

There are no service contracts, no stupid, unjustified $36 "upgrade" fees, or any other hidden costs. You pay full price for the phone up front, or you can pay part of the cost and finance the rest of the full price with no interest. If you want to leave or stop the service, you just pay the balance of the phone price and that's it. Simply, isn't it?

The Attorney General's office should be applauding T-Mobile for being the first fully-honest carrier, and should take a closer look at the eternal subsidy scam and unexplainable fees charged by other wireless carriers.

If you consider the subsidized phone price, the $350 ETF most carriers charge, the mysterious fees (such as the $36 upgrade fee), and higher monthly rate plans, then having to pay the remaining full price on the phone when you decide to leave T-Mobile is still the less expensive option. I will say this again, the T-Mobile HTC One is the best smartphone today with the best carrier value.

Let's look at a typical comparison if a consumer decides to leave a carrier after six months.

  • Typical subsidy model carrier: You pay $200 for a subsidized phone, subsidy premium of at least $20/month for 6 months ($120) rolled into your plan, $36 upgrade fee, and then $350 ETF (may get prorated down $5/month to $320). Total to leave is $676, with prorated ETF.

  • T-Mobile Simple Choice plan: You pay $99 up front, $20/month for 6 months for the phone cost, then pay the balance of $320 when you leave. Total cost is $579, which you can also just pay for up front, with no phone balance to pay and no contract keeping you with the carrier.

As you can see, T-Mobile is indeed the better deal, and you don't have to fight them to get a SIM unlock code. The cost to stay with a subsidized carrier can potentially cost you much more than T-Mobile if you don't use the subsidy because those carriers never reduce your monthly plan fees.

I understand that the $100+ difference shown here is not the biggest deal ever, but it frustrates me to see government agencies attacking an honest carrier, when the subsidy model with no end in sight is a much worse issue to address.

I guess, like in many areas in today's society, we now have to teach to the lowest common denominator, so that T-Mobile will have to spell out to customers that $600 to $800 phones do not really cost $100. Many of us have been trying to explain how subsidized phone plans work, but it looks like we all still have a long way to go.

Topics: Mobility, Smartphones

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  • they were brainwashed

    by campaign contributions
    • Its sad when an AG is blind

      What ever his motives where.

      It shows how much he can be trusted.

      TMobile is giving a fair deal to everyone. They even give users a discounted phone and all they ask is if you leave me, please payoff your balance. That is fair business.

      They should be investigating the unfair mistakes that ruin people's credit done by other carriers.
  • It is also worth mentioning...

    that T-mobiles plans are wayyyy cheaper than AT&T and Verizons as well.

    I actually just dropped AT&T. Even with the early cancellation fees and the cost of a new phone on T-mobile, I still saved about $100 over the course of a 2 year contract.
  • There's the Matthew we know

    I like this article better than your "HTC One" is the best phone in the world nonsense.
  • Idiots can always find a home on the government dole.

    This however may have gone beyond idiocy and crossed into something shady. Non the first time WA state government has shown they don't understand the tech industry that theyre drunk on tax revenue from. If they had any brains they'd be making all carriers operate this way. There entire country would. The state government is no consumer advocate.
    Johnny Vegas
  • Most people can't do simple math

    Tmobile is doing what all the other carriers should. Not feeding you a bunch of bull! If people would do some simple math you would see that when all added up tmobile is by far the cheapest even with paying $20 extra towards the purchase of your phone. No activation fee, no early termination fee, and no 2 year contract. You can pay off your phone at any time and enjoy even lower bills. How hard is this to understand? Is the world full of idiots that don't know how to do math?
  • WA wasn't all wrong

    Read the ad: "With no more annual service contracts, we don't lock you into a big commitment with our Simple Choice Plan." It's true that T-Mobile is cheaper and you're not locked into a service plan, but the phone payment plan is still a two-year commitment. Some consumers might still consider the commitment "big," even if the overall commitment is smaller than the competitors'. And just like the other plans, there's the equivalent of an early termination fee. I kind of agree with the regulators, the wording is misleading.

    I like the new T-Mobile plan, but I have no objection to clarifying the ad.
    Apostolos Akuod
    • Not the whole truth

      No one is forced to use an expensive phone they can't afford. There are plenty good handsets in the 300$ range. Used for half a year, they often have an ebay resell value of ~200$.

      If you buy any item - be it a sofa, a tv or a cell phone - and pay in installments, I wouldn't call that being locked in to a commitment (opinions may differ on this one). If you buy an iPhone for 1$ and are then on a 2 year contract for a related service, costing you 2000+$, that's locking you into a commitment.
  • Wish they'd do that at home...

    Here in Germany, their home market, they don't do this...

    We are switching to Congstar or Yourfone, 19.99 a month for all net flat (landline and other networks), plus data flat, 5€ for an SMS flat on top of that. Plus bring your own phone.

    T-Mobile wanted 49 a month for own net flat and landline flat and data flat, discounted by 10€, because I didn't take a new phone last time.
  • Contract?

    So I get a phone from AT&T for $99 with contract that is a $600 phone and after 6 months I decide to end the service and pay the ETF of $350 (using your numbers) and I had to pay the $36 fee. With the monthly cost of around $20 for the phone as you said would equal $569 which is less than the T-Mobile cost you gave and that was not using the pro-rated ETF. Many people such as myself get phones at a lower initial cost than what you posted by waiting for the deals. I actually got my Lumia 900 for $49 and my wife's Focus S for $.01.
    You must really read all the material concerning these phone deals and you really find out that no matter how they package them it ends up costing about the same just like cable TV versus satellite TV service.
    • brainwashed

      Looks like they got you too. The true retail cost of smartphones is so obfuscated by these so called 'deals' that you can't even begin to see how you are being ripped off. The Carriers want to keep it this way so they can pad their pockets. I bet you didn't know that cell phone manufacturers are under contracts to the carriers and it is forbidden for them to sell an unlocked phone to a consumer. But go on and continue drinking the carrier kool-aid.

      And you wouldn't even begin to believe how the cable and internet service providers have markets locked up. All because our politicians got paid off by lobbyists. It's obscene.
  • I disagree with Matthew!

    I perceive your opinion and your point in this matter, However I don't think you should rule out in favor of t-mobile like their heroes not everything is what it seems.
    • Precisely, not everything is as it seems...

      but the problem is people like you are really brainwashed. I'm not saying T-Mobile is a hero far from it. But they are moving in the right direction.
  • Not Brainwashed

    More liked paid off by AT&T and Verizon. Only Susan Crawford can help the consumer.
  • The real payback

    Is if you don't upgrade your phone exactly every 2 years. If your phone was financed over 2 then after that you stop paying that part and just pay for the service. The other carriers continue to charge the phone subsidy even if you don't upgrade.
    However this is still not the best carrier value - not by a long shot.
    I'm on t-mobile pay monthly 4g, I bought a Nexus 4 for $350 and pay $30 for 30 days service and this includes ALL fees including E911, all state and local communication charges - everything. I actually pay exactly $30 every 30 days.
  • Paying more for less is no luxury.

    I can understand regulators not knowing much about the industry that they are supposed to be knowledgeable
    about, but I can not understand how some of your readers can't see a difference between what T-Mobile
    is doing in order to differentiate itself from its competition. I too, was on Verizon, Cingular, and Sprint and never felt or see that I was getting good value from them. When I was on Verizon, I felt that because I was on the most expensive carrier that I was getting a better value and better service. That is a marketing, psychological illution that these rocketeering business know that the majority of their customers possess. Yes, BigPink is offering better value than the other carriers and I know because I've been on T-Mo for a year and a half already, and what the other carriers offer is not that outstandingly different to justify the extra cost. Some folks just love to throw money away is my guest.

    Most customers just don't like that unmacho image, Motor-lady, that T-Mo presents so they just miss out on better value. Keep preaching the good gospel Matthew, but don't forget that you can bring a thirsty donkey by the river edge but you just can not force it to drink.
  • T-Mobile has definnately the right idea

    Just left AT&T (with ETF). was paying 136/mo (discounted 12% by employer) for 4 dumb phones 700min an unlimited texting NO DATA pan at all). Now, thought the upfront cost of two SGIIIs was a large amount when all is said and done 130/mo (discounted 12% by employer). Two smart and two dumb phones, unlimited texting (all four) 1000 min shared (all four) unlimited data (for the two smart).
    The math is pretty simple T-Mobile (more stuff, less money) AT&T (less stuff, more money),
    enough said.