Earlier this month, a now-deleted post on Reddit and an article from The Mobile Report broke a story about an impending price increase for T-Mobile customers. Leaked documents suggested that T-Mobile would switch some customers on older plans to different plans with monthly prices $5 to $10 higher. Customers would be alerted of the upcoming changes and given an option to opt out of the automatic migration.
The documents included suggested lines for T-Mobile representatives fielding calls from customers. The lines include a gem that’s emblematic of the sort of bullshit consumers have to deal with in the cell phone industry:
Raising prices of certain plans would violate a promise T-Mobile made not to raise prices for existing customers. T-Mobile appears to be weaseling out of its commitment by switching customers’ plans.
Most Customers Are Unaffected
Initially, it sounded like the automatic migrations would affect customers on the following plans:
- Magenta 55+
- Simple Choice / Select Choice
- Simple Choice Business
I’d guess tens of millions of customers are on those plans. However, documents released later suggested only 1% of T-Mobile’s customer base, about a million people, would be affected.
The leaks generated pushback and confusion. T-Mobile’s CEO, Mike Sievert, sent a company-wide email clarifying the situation. Sievert explained that reporting around the leaks missed context. Allegedly, price increases and plan switches were part of a small test. The email made me more sympathetic to T-Mobile, but it still reeked of bullshit. It didn’t acknowledge that the changes are, in practice, a price increase.
Did T-Mobile Walk Back?
I’m unsure what to make of the whole saga. Maybe a price increase for a tiny segment of T-Mobile’s customers got blown out of proportion. Or perhaps T-Mobile planned to rollout the price increase more broadly but backed off after bad press. It’s hard to say. T-Mobile may scale up the plan migrations to a much larger portion of its customer base.