Oh, T-Mobile. You wooed us with the AutoPay discounts. The premise is pretty simple. Set up AutoPay. Pay your bills on time, regardless of the method of payment. Get $5 discount a line if a line is set up with AutoPay.
I signed on to a family plan with a AutoPay savings of $30/month. You’re happy with growing base of customers. Customers are happy with the savings. A win-win.
And now, there is word (multiple online sources) that you’re planning to end the AutoPay discounts (as early as May), if the AutoPay is not linked to a debit/banking account. To be fair, I initially discovered a short blurb on the payment page of this change possibly taking in effect, starting sometime in May – which is what led me to research some more.
The source quoted that this change is to “continue providing customers with the best value in wireless“. “Majority of our customers use their bank account or debit card for AutoPay and will continue to get a discount on top of an already great rate plan value.” Really, T-Mobile? I wish you didn’t say that. I’d rather you’d be upfront and say “we’re making this move to save on credit card processing fees”.
It’s not for my benefit. I was fine with the AutoPay savings and how I’ve been paying my bills for years.
No Confidence in Customer Data Handling
I was at a T-Mobile store the other day for a separate transaction, and inquired about this upcoming change while I was there. The T-Mobile rep confirmed that it’s happening in May. Late May. It appears. But she doesn’t have the dates either. She added that it’s better for my protection. Is that a marketing spin for this change?
“It’s more secure to use debit cards”, she says. I raised my eyebrows. It’s not her fault, but she lost a lot of credibility right then and there.
Here’s the crux of my problem with you, T-Mobile:
I really don’t trust the way you handle your customers data, given the numerous data breaches over the year.
If you can’t handle my basic data right, what makes you think I want to entrust you with more sensitive data? I certainly think that banking/debit card is more sensitive data than credit cards numbers.
Lest we forget, just earlier this year, I received notice from T-Mobile that some of the customers may have been compromised. “No passwords, payment card information, social security numbers, government ID numbers or other financial account information were compromised.”
“Some basic customer information (nearly all of which is the type widely available in marketing databases or directories) was obtained, including name, billing address, email, phone number, date of birth, account number, and information such as the number of lines on the account and service plan features.”
Granted, no financial information this time, but talk about setting a bar. And it’s not their first rodeo, either. Compromising customer information on more than one occasion doesn’t create a lot warm fuzzies, either.
Instead of getting the news officially and directly, I had to read a vague blurb on the account payment page that this change “may” be happening starting in May. Online “sources” confirmed this change.
So, when exactly is this change happening? Are credit payments still allowed? Are there more details?
Granted, it is true that you can change the terms and conditions. While you’re not “technically” removing the promised incentives, you’re in fact forcing customers to use very specific payment methods in order to be able to “continue” to be eligible for the discount.
That is a change from what people originally signed up for.
If this change is still scheduled to take effect in May….not communicating this change to your customers clearly and directly, is not a good move at all, T-Mobile.
Not a good move at all.
The obvious problem with no longer using a credit card is the loss of the
cell phone insurance benefit. I look at this as the same as a rate change, which they said
said they would never do. I guess next they’ll start to add add surcharges, and
say it’s OK since it’s not “rate” change.
It’s time to check into other carriers. I saw a commercial for a Verizon plan that may
not screw single users (like two lines usually costing no more than one line on most plans).
I think T-Mobile is trying to pull a page out of the Verizon playbook (no autopay discount if using credit card) or unless you use the Verizon branded credit card. Perhaps T-Mobile wants to move towards the latter…. I don’t have any cards that provide the cell phone insurance benefit, but I can see how useful it is phone is lost/stolen/broken. I agree — I also see this as a “rate” change as well (except on a technicality). And so far, this “change” is vague in its details and not clearly communicated. They are going to get a lot of… Read more »
One solution. Give them your credit card for autopay. However, pay them using bill pay from your bank account a few days before the due date so that they never get to charge your credit card.
Indeed. I imagined the most people will go with this option for now until we see how the change is being implemented.
Wait what??? Aren’t you mean opposite??? Give them your “bank info” for autopay but use credit card to pay the bill few days before the due date?
Someone told me never to use a debit card that uses your main checking account or give them your checking account number. Instead, have a small credit union account with a debit card to limit the damage that can be done.
Agreed. Great tip. This is the way, especially since T-Mobile doesn’t have a very good track record with the data breaches.
Clark Howard has been suggesting Mint Mobile and Consumer Connection. T- Mobile also has a lesser expensive prepaid plan.
I agree with the other poster that the biggest problem with this is the loss of cell phone insurance via credit card. This is really a big deal to me. So now I have to pay another five dollars a month to keep it. I just might start looking into another company.
Interesting. I don’t have that benefit on my cards. I should look more into it. Is the cell phone insurance a benefit because you’re paying down the cost of your phone in installment?
Totally with you there with their careless security with customer data. If the issue ever happened to their own network, they’d definitely take security seriously. Instead we just get blah blah blah we’re really sorry blah blah blah we take this seriously blah blah blah. Sucks to be the customer. And now we have a rate hike? No way I’m giving them my bank account when they are so careless with customer information. Precisely what you said…why in the world would anyone ever give them sensitive data like this? I’ve got three lines with them. Not like a massive cost… Read more »
Agreed — the data breach is a big sticking point to me. They’d apologize for the breach and then boom, there’s another one. I am well aware that data breaches are not limited to just T-Mobile. I’ve written quite a few about it (include that major breach at Equifax). T-Mobile just seems a lot more lax about it, given that it seems to happen with some frequency. The most recent case of compromised data this year (2023) doesn’t help with the poor reputation in that problem area already. From a wireless service perspective: To their credit, I stuck with T-Mobile… Read more »
You say “To be fair, I initially discovered a short blurb on the payment page…”. I think you give them too much credit for this since if you’re really using auto-pay you never go to the payments page.
Good point. And it’s true. I only set up autopay for the discounts. I like to pay my bills early, if not on time. We will see how this plays out soon enough.
Does T-Mobile get charged per transaction fee or a flat percentage from the credit card companies? What’s to stop me from charging 200 $1 dollar transactions instead of one $200 transaction when I pay my bill?
I don’t know their agreements; I’d imagine it’s probably standard business agreements with credit card companies.
There’s probably nothing stopping you from making multiple transactions right now. My guess is that your account will probably get flagged quickly and you’ll get a call/warning for the unusual activities. I wouldn’t be surprised if they think that you’re trying to game some cc promotions for the unusual activities, or that you have nothing better to do with your time….