Ad Alert

T-Mobile’s Cellphone Plan Prices

These prices aren't for everybody, according to the fine print.

Ad Alert

T-Mobile’s Cellphone Plan Prices

The prices T-Mobile advertises at the top of its cellphone plans page, above, aren’t for everybody, namely, existing customers with more than one line. To put it another way, only new customers and existing customers with a single-line plan are eligible to pay those prices — provided they join T-Mobile or add two lines under a limited-time promotion.

TINA.org looked into T-Mobile’s prices after receiving a tip from a consumer. The reality is the rates, which are the first thing consumers see when they visit the plans page, with 3 lines preselected, are part of a limited-time promotion called 3rd Line Free. If you squint, perhaps you can spy the words “with 3rd line free” under the prices.

But to get the full terms of the promotion, including who qualifies, you need to scroll down the plans page, past a bunch of different offers, until you see “Got questions about 3rd Line Free offer?” There, you’ll find a wall of FAQs. The one that says who is eligible for the promotion asks, “What do I need to know about 3rd Line Free”?

You might be wondering, If I need to know this information, why is it buried in the fine print? Well, according to the FTC, it’s not supposed to be. The FTC wrote in a 2014 blog post aimed at marketers:

If the disclosure of information is necessary to prevent an ad from being deceptive, the disclosure has to be clear and conspicuous.

It’s also worth noting that a single-line plan is the least cost-effective plan T-Mobile offers. T-Mobile tells consumers, “The more lines you add, the less you pay per line.” So how many existing T-Mobile customers are actually eligible for this promotion?

Find more of our coverage on cellphone ads here.


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