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Metro by T-Mobile’s Free Phones For All Offer Is A Deceptive Trick To Lock You Into Paying More

Metro by T-Mobile Brings Un-carrier To Prepaid
Metro by T-Mobile Brings "Un-carrier" To Prepaid
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John Freier, the President of T-Mobile's U.S. Consumer Group, released a video today claiming to be "changing wireless for good" by offering Metro by T-Mobile's first Un-carrier move. Free phones for all, including existing customers. He also reaffirmed the company's commitment to "wireless without the gotcha." But this author couldn't disagree more with those claims. There are plenty of gotchas.

Freier and T-Mobile claim to address an industry problem where the best deals, like free phones, are generally reserved for new customers. This is a real issue that I regularly come across in social media where customers of wireless providers complain to their carriers about why new customers can get better deals than they do. So a carrier attempting to address this looks good, that is until you dig into the other underlying changes they decided to make to tackle this issue.

Gotcha number 1!

First, in order to get a free phone every year, you'll have to sign up for one of Metro by T-Mobile's new phone plans called Flex plans. These plans are more expensive than their outgoing ones.  Below is a table comparing Metro's new Flex plans with their old plans.

New Metro by T-Mobile Flex Plans
Flex StartFlex UpFlex Plus
1st Month and Reg Price$55$65$75
AutoPay Price$50$60$70
Hotspot8GB25GB25GB
T-Mobile T-Life (Tuesdays)YesYesYes
Scam ShieldYesYesYes
100GB Google OneYesYesYes
Unlimited text to 200+ countriesNoYesYes
Amazon PrimeNoNoYes
1-Year Vix Premium subscriptionYesYesYes
Old Metro by T-Mobile Plans
StarterMid-planFlagship
1st Month and Reg Price$40$55$65
AutoPay Price$40$50$60
Hotspot0GB8GB25GB
T-Mobile T-Life (Tuesdays)YesYesYes
Scam ShieldYesYesYes
100GB Google OneYesYesYes
Unlimited text to 200+ countriesYesYesYes
Amazon PrimeNoNoNo
1-Year Vix Premium subscriptionYesYesYes

Both the old and new plans include unlimited high-speed data with video streaming in SD. Customers may notice slower speeds when the network is busy after they use more than 35GB of high-speed data in a month.

Comparing the old plans to the new plans they are essentially the same thing except Metro by T-Mobile added hotspot data to its base plan and increased the allotment included on its second highest-priced plan. The flagship plan once again includes Amazon Prime (like the plan from two generations ago did). However, the new plans now cost $10/month more than the old plans. This is all so that existing customers can get free phones every year with a device trade-in.

Is the extra $120/year in the cost of your phone bill worth a free phone to you every year with a trade-in?

----------Update - 05/17/2024-----------

Metro's Flex phone plans are now live. The company has retained the $40 price point, however, an unlimited plan is no longer offered at that price. Instead, the plan comes with 10GB of high-speed data. The cost is actually $45 for the first month, then $40/month with autopay billing. The outgoing unlimited plan did not require autopay billing to get the $40/month price.

Metro's old plans are actually still available to customers with a few stipulations. They are now called Heritage plans. Metro is required to offer them for a limited time as a result of T-Mobile's acquisition of Sprint in 2020. The FAQs for the Heritage plans on Metro's website state: "As a result of T-Mobile's merger with Sprint, Metro by T-Mobile offers Heritage Rate Plans to interested customers for a limited time."

The only way to get a Heritage plan is to call customer care at 1-888-863-8768 or by dialing *611 from your Metro phone. They aren't available any other way and are largely hidden on Metro by T-Mobile's website. It doesn't appear that the plans are eligible for any phone deals.

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Gotcha Number 2!

Metro by T-Mobile's new phone plans potentially come with another hidden additional cost.

Gotcha!

If you are a new customer joining Metro by T-Mobile or adding a line and you get a discounted phone you'll now have to pay $50 if you decide you'd like to move to a cheaper plan within your first six months of service. That's a whole lot of Nada Yada Yada if you ask me. So if you want a new discounted phone, not only will new customers have to pay $10/month more than they did before for their phone plan but they may have to pay another $50 to switch plans after signing up. Ouch.

Gotcha Number 3!

I wrote about a new Metro by T-Mobile gotcha the other day and how T-Mobile may have pulled one over on the FCC, so I'm not going to repeat the whole conversation again. But the article highlights that Metro by T-Mobile recently and secretly increased its device unlock policy to 365 days, up from 180 days. Another gotcha and a move that was made to get ready for their first "Un-carrier" event.

So to rehash, to get a new free phone from Metro by T-Mobile as a new or existing customer you'll now have to:

  • Pay $10/month more for a phone plan than you did before
  • Pay $50 if you want to downgrade your plan within 6-months of purchasing a discounted device
  • Trade in your old device
  • Have your phone locked to the network for one year instead of half a year before you can get it unlocked to use with another provider

Does this sound good to you?

It seems clear these new changes from Metro by T-Mobile are designed to keep customers locked to their network for longer periods of time while making those same customers pay more money for that privilege. Metro by T-Mobile seems like the big winner here, not consumers.

The new Metro by T-Mobile Flex plans are launching on May 16.

If you agree that these changes may not be best for consumers, make it known and share this article on social media.

 




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