5 On Your Side

More T-Mobile customers complain of text charges

Posted December 9, 2008

— When a Lee County woman found charges on her cell phone bill for thousands of text messages she never sent, 5 on Your Side called her provider to clear up the mix-up.

Derwood Bobbitt was a bit surprised when his bill showed daughter Amber had texted 2,500 messages in one month.

"I didn't fly off the handle. I just said OK, how? How could you text message 2,500 text messages in a month?" he recalled.

He limited Amber's phone use, but the next month's bill showed twice as many – 5,000 text messages.

"Amber's in big trouble," Bobbitt thought. "Amber, at 11 years old, is gonna have to go out and get a job."

Most of the texts were to a Charlotte number.

Bobbitt asked his daughter who she knew in Charlotte. "She looked at me and said, 'I don't know, Daddy. I'm not text messaging anybody in Charlotte.'"

"He was really mad," Amber said. He took away her phone privileges and called T-Mobile.

The representative offered to put them on an unlimited texting plan.

"I had no alternative," Bobbitt said. He felt like he had to choose between the four-figure bill or an unlimited text-messaging plan.

"That's when I saw your piece on 5 on Your Side," Bobbitt said.

A T-Mobile customer service executive said Rebecca Johnson's charges were a result of problems as T-Mobile merged with Suncom.

The problem appears to be widespread. After the report on Johnson's problems aired, 11 T-Mobile customers complained to 5 on Your Side. Customers have registered complaints on Internet message boards as well.

Some say they were told they could eliminate the charges if they upgraded, at an additional cost, to an unlimited text plan.

T-Mobile took care of one customer's bill, but did not acknowledge a bigger problem. Spokeswoman Melissa Lawson suggested that each customer call customer service.

Customers can also complain to both the FCC and the North Carolina Attorney General.

Bobbitt said he can admit he was wrong.

"It wasn't your fault," Bobbitt told Amber, "because Monica Laliberte on 5 on Your Side had the piece on there and it showed the numbers."


This story is closed for comments.

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  • tlbone56 Dec 16, 2008

    My Trac Phone was a dream come true for me. Phone companies
    are a bunch of crooks.

  • supernik87 Dec 12, 2008

    I really liked Suncom. I never had any problems with them at all and they had some pretty good phones. My first bill after the buyout included about $60 in internet charges that I never made, as well as a couple of other random charges. They also recharged my entire last bill that I payed. I called T-Mobile and they fixed it right away. I thought Suncom's service was very good but T-Mobile's is much better. Although T-Mobile's phones suck.

  • ezLikeSundayMorning Dec 11, 2008

    I use net10 prepaid myself, no surprises. I also don't use it much, but I have to by 150 minutes for $15 every month. I have over 1000 minutes and they never expire as long as I add air time.

    Maybe some T-Mobile is starting to handle this better because of all the bad press. I'll never get T-mobile no matter how many green bean casseroles roll across my TV as long as there is the risk of a 4 digit bill.

  • GoBoSox Dec 11, 2008

    eldouc.e -

    If you're referring to the "Firefly", save your money. It was VERY cumbersome and fairly expensive. I added my son to my Alltel account for $10/month.

  • StaggerLee Dec 11, 2008

    Holy Cow!! The lack of parenting in this story is so mind boggling that I can't even focus on the phone company issue. The kid is eleven, how old is this parent....14??

    This guy felt his only two options were to pay the bill, or get on a different plan? After the first month with 2500 messages the phone should have been taken away. That way, when the next month's bill showed 5000 messages, it would have been obvious that there was a mistake in the billing.

    And yes, I have kids of my own.

  • smitty Dec 10, 2008

    Prepaid is a ripoff. I added my son to my plan for $10 a month.

  • SouthernBornSouthernBred Dec 10, 2008

    The best plans for young children are the pre-paid. My 15 year old has a plan that cost .75 a day ($22.50) a month. It has unlimited text messaging and unlimited nights and weekends. Alltel has the best pre-paid plan and the best service.

  • Squirreling Dervish Dec 10, 2008

    I had those charges come up on my latest T-Mobile bill. I called C/S and they removed the charges and apologized for the error, and said that the merging of the two billing systems resulted in a lot of bugs and that it will happen. Whenever I have had to call they have been great to deal with and very courteous, and solved my problem within minutes. The complete opposite of the No Customer Service of Suncom.

  • Phrostbite Dec 10, 2008

    I was sold to Tmobile with the Suncom acquisition & my first 2 or 3 bills were between $1800 & $2600. TMobile was aware of the problem & had posted a credit to my account so that I didn't have owe anything each time it happened. Customer Service was really cool & explained to me they were still workign out system bugs with the Suncom integration. I gotta tell you though, I'm liking TMobile customer service more than I ever liked it at Suncom. They deal with your issues ASAP without you having to speak to the Supervisor.

  • notsosimple Dec 10, 2008

    I was a SunCom customer who had no choice when T-Mobile bought them out. My plan with SunCom was fine and included unlimited text messaging. Now T-Mobile is charging for text messages saying that we used Internet access for them. We have older phones and cannot connect to the Internet at all! Customer support online and in the store have been useless and we've been unable to get reimbursed for the charges thus far. I've priced plans with other carriers and the cost is outrageous. I should not be penalized due to T-Mobile's greedy acquisition of SunCom! I guess my next stop is the FCC.