T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) CEO John Legere said that now that a petition he started in April 2014 to abolish data overage charges has garnered more than 250,000 signatures, he and T-Mobile are going to take action.
Legere said that he intends to send a clear and likely highly public message to Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and Sprint (NYSE:S) to drop overage charges on their domestic plans, as T-Mobile did in 2014. The petition, at Change.org/AbolishOverages, now has more than 260,000 supporters.
"That's a quarter million people demanding the carriers join T-Mobile in putting an end to overage penalties -- easily one of the ugliest things about this broken, arrogant industry -- and still, those fat cats haven't budged," Legere said in a company blog post. "But I'm not done putting pressure on these guys, and a few months ago, I promised that -- when we hit a quarter million signatures -- I'd send a message that the carriers couldn't possibly ignore."
Legere is asking supporters to use Twitter over the next week and tweet using a hashtag for different options for how T-Mobile should send the message. "Once the votes are in, I'll take the winning idea, tie it up with a bow and take it straight to the carriers -- (don't worry, we'll make sure to tell you when & where -- and get plenty of photos!)," Legere said.
According to Legere, the options include a plan to "take over the skyline in AT&T, Verizon or Sprint's home market -- and display a massive copy of our petition with the names of all quarter million + signers hung from a building." Legere said T-Mobile might also "skywrite a message they can't miss and get the whole thing on video. Hell, I might even ride along in the plane for this one." Or, T-Mobile might "build a live counter that displays the running tally of how much America has spent in overages and put it smack dab in the middle of a competitor's home market."
Under Verizon's new data plans, which it introduced earlier this month, all overages are billed at $15 for each 1 GB a customer goes over their data limit. In terms of overages, AT&T charges $20 per 300 MB on a 300 MB plan, $20 per 500 MB on a 1 GB plan and $15 per 1 GB on all other plans. On Sprint's Family Share Pack shared data plans, the carrier charges 1.5 cents per MB above a customer's data allotment.
Many carriers have tools on their website to help customers estimate their data usage so they can pick the best plan. Carriers also give customers several alerts as they near their allotments, and customers can change their data plans as often as they want to.
Regional carrier C Spire Wireless has said it is taking steps to more proactively help its customers avoid data overage charges. When 20 percent of a customer's monthly data plan remains, C Spire sends the customer a text message alert. Once users reach their monthly data limit, C Spire texts customers again and gives them an opportunity to purchase a "Top Up" data pass directly from their phone. Subscribers can choose from 500 MB of data for $10, 1 GB for $15 or 3 GB for $45. Further, any unused data from a Top Up pass rolls over to the next month.
Legere added that this is "about a lot more than having some fun at the carriers' expense. This is about forcing change on an industry that's become so fat it's forgotten how to listen to customers. Overages need to go. They're wrong. Customers hate them. And they give this industry a bad name. Together, we're going to make it impossible for the old carriers to ignore this Un-carrier revolution, so take a second to vote, and we'll take it from there!"
- see this T-Mobile blog post
- see this Change.org petition
C Spire moves to help customers avoid data overage charges
T-Mobile's Legere renews call for Verizon, AT&T and Sprint to drop data overage charges
Verizon cuts prices on shared data plans and smartphone access charges
AT&T shakes up Mobile Share Value plan pricing, increases $100/10 GB plan to 15 GB