5 On Your Side

More T-Mobile customers complain of text charges

Posted December 9, 2008 1:41 p.m. EST
Updated December 9, 2008 10:46 p.m. EST

— 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."