The New York City government sued T-Mobile yesterday, alleging that Metro stores routinely use "violent sales tactics" such as selling used phones as if they were new and charging customers for services they did not order.
"Violent sales tactics are widespread in Metro stores," the complaint states. "At least several dozen have sold used phones to consumers as if they were new, charged consumers for fake taxes and unwanted services, or enrolled consumers into expensive financing plans without their consent."
T-Mobile's Metro Division offers prepaid service over the T-Mobile wireless network and is labeled "Metro by T-Mobile." It was known as MetroPCS until a 201
Metro by T-Mobile abuses "don't stop at the store," the NYC lawsuit says:
The T-Mobile-owned Metro website emblazoned with the "Metro by T-Mobile" logo, wonders consumers about its stingy return policy: it advertises a "30-day guarantee" on all Metro mobile phone purchases, but in small print reveals that return or exchange is only available for a small subcategory of transactions, and only within seven days of purchase.
This illegal activity is pervasive, spanning 56 locations in all five New York City neighborhoods, and includes both "authorized dealers" and stores directly operated by T-Mobile's subsidiary, MetroPCS NY. The amount costs the consumer considerably. For example, most of the 21 phones that DCA [New York City Department of Consumer Affairs] identified as being used were iPhones costing several hundred dollars each.
The lawsuit was filed in the State Supreme Court of New York County. The NY Supreme Court is a court of law; New York's highest state court is the Court of Appeals.
Thousands of violations
Defendants include T-Mobile, T-Mobile & # 39; s MetroPCS New York division, and various owners of Metro stores. T-Mobile owns some Metro stores directly, while others are owned by dealers who "enter into a contract with MetroPCS NY for permission to operate under the Metro brand," the lawsuit states. The defendants "violated the city's Consumer Protection Act thousands of times," the city said in a press release today.
Metro stores charged "illegal taxes, mystery fees and charges for unwanted services," the city said.
"Some Metro stores sell discounted phones, but then add taxes to the much higher advance discount rate, which is illegal under state law," the city said. "Metro also charged several customers with unreported and illegal activation fees, and for unwanted products and services such as GPS navigation, extra lines and hotspot capacity."
The city's lawsuit seeks revenue for revenue to create "a recovery fund to compensate New Yorkers scammed in metro stores." The city also said it is seeking to have T-Mobile "notify all major credit bureaus that the financing contracts were fraudulent, such that related information can be removed from consumer credit reports and to pay civil penalties. "
that the blatant New York scam must be held accountable, says Mayor Bill de Blasio in the city's press release. "We are doing everything in our power to ensure that T-Mobile terminates this deceptive practice and that customers who availed themselves of the refund they owe."
When contacted by Ars, T-Mobile said it "takes [s] these claims very seriously" and continues to investigate so that we can respond to the city. "
" Although we cannot comment on the specific claims made on this early stage, what we see alleged here is completely contrary to the integrity of our team and the commitment they have to taking care of our customers every day, "said T-Mobile.
Used phones sold as new
Metro of T-Mobile stores "does not advertise selling used phones," but "dozens of NYC consumers over the past three years have complained that the phones they purchased from NYC Metro Stores were used," the lawsuit states.  Some customers confirmed through Apple that their "new" phones purchased from Metro by T-Mobile had previously been activated, the law suit said. Others discovered that the phones were used because they were "covered in scratches" or could not be charged, it states
In the case of finance lawsuits, Metro stores "asked NYC consumers about things as basic as the actual price of the phone for things as complicated as the terms of financing," the lawsuit states. In a case in January 2019, a consumer named Vashti Anais Wagner tried to buy a phone that was advertised for $ 599, but the Metro store reportedly admitted her in a lease where she had to pay $ 2,191.30 in monthly payments of $ 199, 21.
"The worker did not show the Wagner contract, appears to have signed it in her name and did not tell her that she would rent the phone instead of buying it directly," the lawsuit states.  New York City said it found eight other cases where Metro stores "only lied to consumers about down payments or demanded monthly payments."
30-Day Warranty "Completely Illusory"
While Metro's website announces a 30-day warranty for telephone purchases, Metro's actual return policy "only allows returns within seven days of in-store purchases – and all purchases are in store because it is impossible to buy a phone from the metro page, "states the lawsuit id. "The touted 30-day warranty" is completely illusory and completely misleading. "
The return policy is also so restrictive that it" prevents the return of consumers who purchased the phone for an existing service line or have & # 39; warranty cases, & # 39; undefined, "the lawsuit states.  New York's lawsuit also said that Metro stores "overcharge consumers through misleading representations about taxes and other fees, and by unduly adding unwanted services to wireless plans and unexplained consumer receipt fees. "
A metro store charged a customer what it called the" sales tax, "but the taxes went far beyond New York's sales tax rate," and it's unclear how they were calculated, "the lawsuit states.
In addition," Metro charged at least two other non-disclosed, illegal "activation payments" in excess of $ 70 each have overcharged at least one other SIM card consumer, and have overcharged at least four consumers by including unwanted services. Iike GPS navigation, extra lines or hotspot capability, in monthly wireless plans, "the lawsuit states.
The defendant was also charged with" not [ing] providing legal sales receipts. "