Friday, 23 December 2011

T-mobile Netherlands are a bunch of crooks!!! Updated!

This is way off my usual topics but I have to get this out there.

I am originally English but have been living and working in Holland for the last seven years (my wife is Dutch :-) I speak Dutch but can't really write it. I have had a contract with T-mobile since 2008

At the end of October to the beginning of November I had to go to Munich for a week for an event I was working on. I paid T-mobile 15 euros for "Travel and Surf" unlimited data in Europe so that I could check email on my iPhone.

The Hotel I was staying in had a T-Mobile Germany hotspot, so when I used my phone it asked me if I wanted to connect. I checked the login page to see if there was an agreement with T-mobile Netherlands and sure enough under "roaming partners" there was an option to login in with my Netherlands account. There was no warning that this would cost anything.

I received no texts or emails from T-mobile informing me of any charges to my account, but obviously their system knew I was connected.

If I had known that there would be charges I would never have connected to the Hotspot as I had already paid for connection via the data network.

I would typically arrive back at the Hotel in the evening, my phone would automatically connect to the Hotspot, I would check my mail for maybe ten minutes, then maybe go for dinner and later put my phone on charge and go to bed.

At the end of November I received my bill from T-mobile, including charges for connecting to the Hotspot in Germany. But not charged by use of data but by time connected. They want to charge me for 7872 minutes at 25 cents per minute!!!!

November invoice:

Internet in het buitenland
26.10.11                15:24     DATA     Internet Hotspot  507:00 min.         106,51
27.10.11                00:00     DATA     Internet Hotspot  854:00 min.         179,41
28.10.11                01:20     DATA     Internet Hotspot  1018:00 min.       213,86
29.10.11                00:13     DATA     Internet Hotspot  976:00 min.         205,04
29.10.11                20:49     DATA     Internet Hotspot  158:00 min.            33,19
30.10.11                02:30     DATA     Internet Hotspot  654:00 min.         137,39
02.11.11                22:40     DATA     Internet Hotspot  433:00 min.            90,96
03.11.11                06:59     DATA     Internet Hotspot  936:00 min.         196,63
04.11.11                00:00     DATA     Internet Hotspot  1219:00 min.       256,09
05.11.11                00:00     DATA     Internet Hotspot  1117:00 min.       234,66
Totaal Internet in het buitenland                       7872:00 min.                  1653,74

If you look at the time they're charging for it doesn't make sense. 1219 minutes is over 20 hours! I didn't stay in the hotel all day, I was working at an event 5 kilometres away!

I rang T-mobile customer services to ask what was going on. They told me I had to go to a T-Mobile store to make a complaint so I went to the T-Mobile store in Amstelveen and spoke to the manager. He told me this kind of thing happens all the time and they would probably cancel the bill. He said it would take 4 or 5 days and then someone would contact me.

I heard nothing until mid December when I received another bill, with another 2234 minutes of connection time. So now I am being charged for 10,106 minutes at 25 cents per minute.
That's 2,526.50 euro plus 19% tax!!!

December invoice:
Internet in het buitenland
06.11.11                00:13     DATA    Internet Hotspot  1241:00 min.        260,71
07.11.11                00:00     DATA    Internet Hotspot  993:00 min.          208,61
Totaal Internet in het buitenland                       2234:00 min.                   469,32

I tried to speak to T-Mobile customer support but if they don't want to deal with your case they just hang up on you. Eventually I spoke to a name removed in their billing department and she told me that the case had been decided and I had to pay.

I pointed out that I had paid for unlimited internet access but she said "Oh that's different"
I pointed out that I was not informed that connecting to the Hotspot was billable and she said "Oh we don't have to tell you"
I pointed out that the European commission had set a 50 euro cap for data roaming in Europe and she said "Oh that doesn't apply here"
I suggested that what they were doing was like stealing and she said "Oh we can't be doing anything illegal or we wouldn't be allowed to do it"
There was no negotiation, no apology and no option to speak to anyone else.

I am refusing to pay the bills until I have made my case with the Ombudsman and if necessary with the European Commission.

If you have an account with T-mobile be very careful when you travel abroad.
If anyone has any information or advice that might help me in my case with T-mobile please feel free to contact me using the comments below.

I have also posted this information on a T-mobile forum and have now had a couple of replies from a moderator with the screen name CindyS. This was the first:

I'm sorry to hear you assumed using a T-Mobile Hotspot outside The Netherlands was for free. On our website you can find information about using Hotspots: There you can read that using a Hotspotconnection abroad costs €0,25 per minute. 

The €59,95 cap for data roaming only applies to using mobile internet on a mobile network, not a Wi-fi spot where a login is required.

To which I replied:

How convenient. It would have been nice to be TOLD that the hotspot was not free. Your system knew I was connected but there was no text or other message to warn me of the charges.

How do you explain the connection being on for over 1200 minutes in a day? 
Also, why do you charge by the minute rather than for data used?

This was her reply:

The connection time is registered with your simcard.

In what way T-Mobile charges the usage of a certain service is a policy decision.

Unbelievable! The connection time is registered with my simcard, so even if it makes no logical sense, it must be right. As we all know, computer systems never make mistakes :-)

And the way T-Mobile charge is "a policy decision" Well yes I can see it's T-mobiles "policy" to screw as much money out of their customers as they possibly can!

Thanks CindyS for the ammunition. :-)

Oh yes, if there is an ad for T-mobile under this post (how ironic) please click on it.
That way I might just get some of my money back! Haha :-)

Some more posts from the forum, my replies:

On Monday:

So you have no answer as to why I was not informed of the charges?

You think it makes sense that I am being charged for connecting to the Hotspot for 20 hours in a day when I wasn't even in the Hotel that long?
And the way you charge usage is "รค policy decision" , in other words, you can charge whatever you like?
Do you think it is fair and justified that I should be charged 3000 euros to check my email?


Nothing to say?

No corporate answer as to why I was not told about the charges?

You think 25 cents per minute for 10,000 minutes is perfectly reasonable?

Come on CindyS, make me smile :-)

Then today this:

T-Mobile in all fairness expects travellers are aware that the costs of the services they use abroad are higher than in The Netherlands. This information is available on our website.

It's the responsibility of the traveler to keep control of the duration of use and therefore also the costs. Though I really regret that this was not the case for you, it's T-Mobile's position that you are finally responsible for start and termination of a data connection.

I agree you are confronted with an extreme situation. Therefore I have brought up your case within our organisation, although I can not guarantee this will result in a different outcome. As soon as I receive an answer you will be informed.

At the moment there's a very high demand for our services and that is why you had to wait a while for a reply from a moderator.

Well, there's hope for the world yet :-) Thank you CindyS for this more human response and I look forward to hearing from you.


Had an email chasing the November invoice and threatening to block my phone if I don't pay.

I rang customer support and spoke to  name removed, who was very helpful.

He checked and found out that my complaint is being dealt with and I will be receiving a letter "shortly". In the meantime I don't have to pay the invoice and I wont be blocked. Phew!

I look forward to the letter and will post the content here. Fingers crossed :-)

I suppose it was foolish of me to hope that common sense might prevail. Sigh.
This is T-mobiles response to my situation:

First of all I paid for unlimited internet access (their words not mine) when I bought a "Travel and Surf" package.

Secondly I only logged on to the T-mobile WiFi Hotspot because it accepted my T-mobile Netherlands user name and password under "roaming partners" there was no mention of charges on the login page. 

At no point did I agree to paying 25 cents per minute for access to the Hotspot

There was no email or SMS message to tell me I was running up charges. There was no warning whatsoever. I do not call that "as much information as possible"

Thirdly, I only raised the issue of the data roaming cap after they tried to bill me 3000 euros for the privilege of checking my emails! I did not "assume" the cap for data roaming applied to the WiFi Hotspot. I believed I had already paid for access to the internet via the T-Mobile network.

So they apologize for the inconvenience? I don't call a bill for 3000 euros "inconvenient", I call it robbery. Charging 25 cents per minute for access to wifi is blatant extortion.

They want to offer me the possibility to pay in instalments? I am not going to pay one cent of the charges for the Hotspot. I will see them in court trying to defend their charges.

T-mobile customer service has to be some of the worst in the world. It's not surprising they can't even spell customer.

This isn't over. 
Over 1000 people have seen this page now. 
Please forward the link to everyone you know. 
We wont be treated like this.

Continued here:


  1. This is not to say that these companies do not have a billing system in place. Of course, their problem is that it often is not true for the company, and can create more problems that it solves.

    mobile billing

  2. Another company who is not serving their customers in what their needs are! How sad! Good luck Neil! One advice DON'T pay a cent!

  3. Thanks for your support Treemonster :-)

  4. Hi Neil,

    T-Mobile is a monster, I will pass on your story to other people I know.
    Very good that you are making noise about this!


  5. Thanks for your support Peter :-)
    The more people that know about this the better.
    I'm sick of dealing with these corporate robots.

  6. Similar (not in the same scale though..) problem here. I will also try and publish your story, which brings to light the mentality of this company.

    1. Thanks for your message. I eventually got them to cancel the charges. Keep pushing!

      Good luck, Neil

  7. T-Mobile it seems have a reputation for bait pricing and (to put it politely) very dodgy business practices. I cancelled my SIM card 7 months ago.. but still get an Incasso letter from them each month. That is actually called demanding money with menaces. This is a company to be avoided. I work in telecoms, and T-Mobile are the ones we deliberately exclude from any bids, RFQs and RFPs, purely because they operate with such blatent dishonesty. The behaviour of their sales and customer "care" departments is really a matter for the police, not only the industry regulator OPTA.
    In short, stay well clear from this bunch of crooks.

  8. Seriously, are you too stupid to realise mobile internet and wifi hotspot are not the same thing?

  9. I have just come back from Holland after my mum had a stroke and she is with T-Mobile on her Iphone 5 and had nothing but trouble the whole time I was there! my parents took my daughter out for day trips and mums phone was useless outside of her own town of Ede - coudn't call out! had no reception most of the time and tonight she tells me her phone is about to be cut off completely because her bill is so high because of all her Viber calls to myself and my brother, in Australia! since when does Viber start charging? I googled it and nowhere does it say you get charged after so many calls. any suggestions where she can take her case? i told her to tell my dad tonight not to pay it but take it further up the line! they aren't tech savvy, so any suggestions would be helpful. Bit hard to help from the land Down Under!

    1. I'm sorry to hear about your Mums problems. I'm not sure which contract she has with T-mobile but Viber will be using the data connection. My contract had unlimited data but they have other contracts that charge for it.
      Keep pushing with T-mobile, eventually you may get to speak to a human being :-)
      You can also take your case to the Geschillencommissie which is the Dutch ombudsman for telephone services.
      Make as much noise as you can, blog it, tweet it, get it in the papers. They hate bad PR
      Good luck!

  10. I do not know if your case was helpful here, but T-Mobile Customer Service told me today that T-Mobile Hotspots a now free for the kind of Mobile Internet contracts with unlimited mobile internet via an USB T-Mobile internet stick or Simcard in a tablet.