What you need to know

  • New York City is suing T-Mobile over violations made by its Metro by T-Mobile subsidiary.
  • The suit covers thousands of violations covering 56 Metro by T-Mobile stores in all five boroughs.
  • The suit alleges customers were sold used phones as new, signed up for expensive financing plans without consent, charged "made up" taxes, and more.

On September 4, New York City filed a lawsuit against T-Mobile for thousands of customer violations. The suit alleges that Metro by T-Mobile engaged in illegal sales tactics such as selling used phones as new, signing customers up for expensive financing plans without consent, and charging "made up" taxes and "device activation taxes."

One example of these violations includes a woman who bought a phone from one of the Metro by T-Mobile stores in the Bronx. Later, she would learn the employee signed her up for a costly lease program that would more than triple the cost of the phone. Instead of paying $599 to own the phone outright, she would be on the hook for paying $199.21 per month for a total of $2,191.30, and still not even own the phone.

The employee did not show Ms. Wagner the contract, appears to have e-signed it in her name, and did not tell her that she would be leasing the phone rather than buying it outright.

According to the complaint by the city, stores were also accused of "illegal taxes, mystery fees, and fees for unwanted services."

Some Metro stores sell phones at a discount, but then add taxes on the much higher, pre-discount figure, which is illegal under state law.

Metro also charged several customers undisclosed and illegal activation fees, and for unwanted products and services like GPS navigation, extra lines, and hotspot capability.

Used phones were also sold as new, which was discovered by customers when their new devices were covered in scratches or charging ports refused to work. Some were even informed by Apple that their phone had previously been activated.

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The lawsuit also found Metro's 30-day guarantee to be "wholly illusory, and completely deceptive." This is because Metro's actual return policy, only allows for returns within seven days of in-store purchases.

In the end, NYC's Department of Consumer and Worker Protection has documented thousands of violations by 56 Metro by T-Mobile stores across all five boroughs. Speaking with CNET a spokesperson for T-Mobile said, "What we are seeing alleged here is completely at odds with the integrity of our team and the commitment they have to taking care of our customers every day." The spokesperson also added that T-Mobile is taking the allegations "very seriously."

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