T-Mobile CEO John Legere has waded into the FTC furore over premium text message fees, accusing the commission of political posturing, and announcing a boost to the carrier’s proactive refund program. Allegations of charge-stuffing surfaced earlier this week, with T-Mobile accused by the FTC of “masking” outrageous fees for premium services as well as shirking its responsibilities for refunds.
Unsurprisingly, outspoken chief exec Legere didn’t take the claims lying down. Arguing that the FTC’s comments were “factually and legally unfounded, but also misdirected” by unfairly singling out T-Mobile.
In the new statement, published today, Legere concedes that premium SMS services were commonplace in the years between 2009 and 2013, and that T-Mobile – along with the other big US carriers – billed customers on behalf of the service providers.
However, T-Mobile pruned out any fraudsters spotted along the way, and ceased the premium operations in November 2013 along with the other networks.
The Proactive Refund Program, announced last month, will consist of T-Mobile contacting affected customers and pointing out that they can ask for a summary of potentially out-of-line fees. If there are any, then a refund can be requested.
“To make sure we are doing all the right things, I have instructed our marketing and customer care teams to double down their outreach effort to all potentially affected customers – current and past – who believe that they were inappropriately billed and/or paid for one of these Premium SMS services that they did not want or authorize – and provide refunds. This program is being launched in a few days” John Legere, CEO, T-Mobile
Exactly how T-Mobile will “double-down” is unclear, though the program was due to kick off in July and then run through September.
Legere also argues that the FTC over-egged the scale of the financial amounts involved, pointing out that most of the premium providers themselves are out of business anyway.