Two rural carriers filed a class action lawsuit against T-Mobile for call non-completion. In the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Craigville Telephone Co., doing business as AdamsWells Internet Telecom TV and Consolidated Telephone Company, doing business as CTC, discuss the “immense harm inflicted upon rural local exchange carriers and their rural customers for the insertion of fake ring tones.”
In April 2018, the FCC and T-Mobile reached a settlement to end a rural call completion investigation that began in 2016.
During the probe, the Enforcement Bureau discovered T-Mobile injected false ringtones into certain calls, a violation of agency rules. “False ringtones cause callers to believe that the phone is ringing at the called party’s premises when it is not. A caller may then hang up, thinking no one is available to receive the call,” said the bureau in its decision, Inside Towers reported.
“False ring tones also create a misleading impression that a caller’s service provider is not responsible if the call fails.” The Enforcement Bureau called false ringtones “a symptom of the problems of impaired quality” and call completion problems in rural areas.
At the time, T-Mobile agreed to pay $40 million to the U.S. Treasury and enter into a compliance plan to prevent future violations. In exchange, the Commission stopped its investigation.
But nothing was done to compensate T-Mobile’s customers or the rural carriers “who suffered reputational harm, lost revenues and increased costs related to the public relations nightmare of trying to explain to rural customers why calls made from T-Mobile customers never materialized,” said the Rural Wireless Association.
In addition, Craigville and Consolidated say in the complaint, that T-Mobile’s fake ring tone scheme injured the class members’ businesses in other ways, including: “lost opportunities to seek intercarrier compensation for calls the scheme blocked from connecting to the Plaintiffs’ switches, lost time value of labor hours associated with investigating and responding to customer complaints, loss of revenue due to discounts and monetary concessions the class members have made to appease and retain their disgruntled customers, and industry wide harm to the reputations and business opportunities for local rural phone companies.”
T-Mobile did not respond to Telecompetitor’s request for comment.
November 7, 2019
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