T-Mobile CEO reiterates innocence, slams FTC for 'sensationalizing'

After the Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint against T-Mobile this week, CEO John Legere derided the agency's claims.

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T-Mobile CEO John Legere Lori Grunin/CNET

John Legere, T-Mobile's chief executive, again called out the Federal Trade Commission on Thursday, claiming the agency was "sensationalizing" its claims against the cell phone carrier.

The FTC filed a complaint Tuesday against the company, alleging T-Mobile has made hundreds of millions of dollars on fees from "premium" text messages that customers didn't request. The messages, often sent as a joke or flirting tips, can cost $9.99 a month. The US carriers agreed in November to end the practice, banning companies from sending these kinds of messages, and T-Mobile recently introduced a program to try to refund customers for the messages.

"The FTC certainly did a good job of sensationalizing their story and their news at the expense of both T-Mobile's reputation and mine," Legere said in a letter posted on T-Mobile's website Thursday.

"T-Mobile is NOT participating in any form of cramming, stuffing charges for un-purchased services, or trying to be anything less than totally transparent with each of our customers," he later added.

"Cramming" is a term for a questionable industry practice of putting charges on customers' bills without their knowledge.

Legere's latest statements provide a fuller response from the CEO following a shorter letter disclosed soon after the complaint, in which he called the FTC's claims "unfounded and without merit."

Legere said Thursday that from 2009 to 2013 all the major wireless carriers, including T-Mobile, began carrying premium texting services. The carriers billed for the services on behalf of content providers that were responsible for gaining customers' approval, Legere said. However, he added, "there were some fraudsters in that bunch" -- an issue that led to the carriers dropping that type of service.

Legere said premium text wasn't a big or important business for T-Mobile and called the FTC's financial claims "incredibly overstated."

The FTC earlier this week said it engaged in settlement negotiations with T-Mobile, but couldn't reach an agreement. An FTC representative wasn't immediately available for comment Thursday.

 

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