T-Mobile agrees to $40 million fine for fake ringing on outgoing calls

Greg S

Posts: 1,607   +442

After being caught playing ringing sounds to customers on outgoing calls that never actually connected, T-Mobile has agreed to settle with the FCC for $40 million. Customers were lead to believe that their calls were going through, when in reality the calls never caused the receiving phones to ring.

T-Mobile has fully admitted that it violated FCC regulations preventing such practices and that no actions were taken to fix the issue. In a statement from the FCC, it is reported that T-Mobile has used fake ringing sounds on hundreds of millions of phone calls. The practice of using false ring tones has been banned since 2014.

Dialing a number and hearing endless ringing on the other end can make it appear as though a call is completed but that there is nobody on the other end of the line to pick up. By implementing the falsified sound indicating connection, many T-Mobile customers will hang up instead of waiting for the call to actually make a complete connection.

In rural areas where T-Mobile does not have its own towers to provide service, regional providers can charge higher rates for use of their networks. Upon customers hanging up their phones, T-Mobile was able to save on service fees that would be paid to the local providers.

Lack of cellular access for rural areas can lead to lost revenue for local businesses and even pose safety hazards in the event of an emergency. For existing customers, there is no consolation other than knowing that T-mobile is unlikely to engage in similar practices in the future.

Permalink to story.

 

Icysoul

Posts: 39   +13
Seeing that they agreed upon paying such a hefty fine (right, and who is going to make use of those money...? surely not the customers), I believe that they saved a lot more than that.
 

tipstir

Posts: 2,854   +200
Yes make it hurt them go 400 billion and give back their customers extra $50 off the bill per month until they suffer for what they did to us. That would explain why the phone wouldn't pickup the calls after they were going out. Shame on them. They should also go after them for AutoPay which never kicked into until so many complaints to them.
 
S

senketsu

It's hard to shock me these days, but this is such a low blow it actually does. Their corporate mantra "crime does pay"
("Crime does not pay" used to be an FBI slogan and was used in the D*ck Tracy comic)-yes, it censored his first name hence the asterisk
 

captaincranky

Posts: 16,523   +5,328
2016: Fake news.
2017: Fake followers.
2018: Fake ring tones.
2019: Fake ???
Fake posts by a so called "captaincranky" at Techspot. He's really the nicest guy you'd ever want to meet. And like the mythical Halcyon bird, he can calm the waters of your troubled mind with a single whisper....(y)
 

nugnamnivek

Posts: 13   +4
So.. first off...I'm a telephony Engineer. Call progress being passed audibly to the caller isn't just a legal obligation, its in the best interest of the telephony provider. The idea that this was done to avoid LD fees to local carriers isn't 100% logical. I could see a lawyer making that case because some cost is avoided...but even over a large network and significant time period it would be minimal at best, albeit impossible to quantify. It's far more likely this was done to add uniformity to the caller's experience using their service, but the recording was only configured to change when common response codes were returned. Leaving less common response codes to not trigger anything, putting the caller in a never ending ring pattern. We need a ton more detail, but at first glance this penalty looks to be a due to a lack of attention to detail which "could" have resulted in local carriers losing "some" income. The amount they've been fined seems to corroborate that theory. ...On a side note, its probable the amount of cash they didn't have to pay local providers is less than the fine that was imposed. Especially considering the impact to users thinking their calls weren't going through and all the associated support resources that had to deal with that on a daily basis. TL:DR The benefit from willfully doing this doesn't outweigh the cost associated... even in a strictly economic sense.
 
So.. first off...I'm a telephony Engineer. Call progress being passed audibly to the caller isn't just a legal obligation, its in the best interest of the telephony provider. The idea that this was done to avoid LD fees to local carriers isn't 100% logical. I could see a lawyer making that case because some cost is avoided...but even over a large network and significant time period it would be minimal at best, albeit impossible to quantify. It's far more likely this was done to add uniformity to the caller's experience using their service, but the recording was only configured to change when common response codes were returned. Leaving less common response codes to not trigger anything, putting the caller in a never ending ring pattern. We need a ton more detail, but at first glance this penalty looks to be a due to a lack of attention to detail which "could" have resulted in local carriers losing "some" income. The amount they've been fined seems to corroborate that theory. ...On a side note, its probable the amount of cash they didn't have to pay local providers is less than the fine that was imposed. Especially considering the impact to users thinking their calls weren't going through and all the associated support resources that had to deal with that on a daily basis. TL:DR The benefit from willfully doing this doesn't outweigh the cost associated... even in a strictly economic sense.
I work in the telecommunications business for a small rural phone company and we have been dealing with call completion problems in our area since about 2010. I would agree with you that it would not seem that the practice of intentionally avoiding access fees and LD charges would make economic sense to originating carriers. I assure you though that it has been and still is in some cases extemely difficult to get some of the providers to fix their call routing problems.
We are still dealing with a cable company in our area whose customers, one being a hospital cannot reach their patients in our serving area. The cable company when contacted about this issue was quick to point the finger at our phone company. The problem is that the calls are not even reaching our network. They appear to be cooperating at this point but if they don't fix the problem soon we will get the FCC involved.