Help! T-Mobile overbilled me after I canceled my phone

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By Christopher Elliott

After Kelly King cancels her T-Mobile account, the phone company charges her for an extra month anyway. Can she get a refund?

Question

I recently canceled one of the lines on my T-Mobile family plan. I’ve had the account for 12 years, so there was no contract and no early termination fee.

When I called in to cancel and port my number to my new carrier, T-Mobile tried to persuade me to stay by transferring me to a retention specialist, but I declined to keep the line.

I received a bill two months later for an extra $134. When I asked T-Mobile why I was being charged, a representative told me “even though you canceled, you still owe us.”

He compared the situation to a cable TV bill. “If you had cable and did not turn on your TV, you would still have to pay,” he said. That didn’t make sense since I had canceled the service.

I’ve canceled the second line on my account. I’d like a refund. Can you help? — Kelly King, Portland, Oregon

Answer

T-Mobile’s explanation might make sense in the context of its terms of service — with an emphasis on “might.”

To find out what’s going on, you have to dig deep into the terms and conditions you signed 12 years ago. You can find them on T-Mobile’s website. See section 4, which addresses cancellations. “You may cancel Service for any reason by providing us with notice (we may require up to 30 days), which cancellation will take effect on or before the beginning of the next billing cycle after the notice period,” it notes.

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In other words, while your cancellation is effective immediately, you’ll continue to pay for the service until the beginning of your next billing cycle. That’s a common practice among cellular phone companies. You pay even for service you don’t have.

The important question

Did you pay for more than a month? You say you did, but T-Mobile says you didn’t.

I have no way of knowing who is telling the truth. But this I can say: The representative you spoke with, who gave you the cable TV analogy, was wrong. This is not like having service but not choosing to use it. You had no service but paid for it. The representative would have been better off invoking the terms and conditions — if, indeed, they could be invoked. (Related: My T-Mobile phone doesn’t work, now what?)

I think you could have pushed T-Mobile for a better answer than a false analogy. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the T-Mobile customer service executives on my consumer advocacy site.

The good news from T-Mobile

I contacted T-Mobile on your behalf. A representative contacted you and admitted that the representative you spoke with was “totally wrong” about your bill. T-Mobile not only refunded the $134 it overbilled, but also waived the remaining $146 on your final bill. That’s a nice way to say “I’m sorry.”

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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