The great thing about having this platform is allowing others to occasionally share their voice. I’m always willing to let individuals use our site to get their message out or ask for help. One of our readers, Robert Barrett, asked us to find out if T-Mobile has any plans to offer data only plans on Android phones for their deaf customers. Currently they are required to purchase a voice plan which often goes unused.
There is a great thread over at the official T-Mobile forums that explains this issue.
My name is Ian MacGregor and I am deaf. I currently have a G1 mobile phone. This phone is quite awesome and I am very happy with it. The one thing I am not happy about is that T-Mobile requires everyone who gets the G1 to also have a voice plan – which increases our monthly bill. Deaf users cannot use a voice plan because most cannot hear well enough and some cannot speak well enough so the voice plan amounts to wasted money every month.
I just got off the phone with a T-Mobile customer care representative who helped me file a formal complaint. My complaint was as follows:
1) Deaf users are required to pay for a voice plan on the g1, but they cannot use the voice plan due to being deaf.
2) Making the voice plan optional for g1 users (similar to the Sidekick data plan) would likely increase T-Mobile’s customer base by making the g1 more attractive to deaf users.
3) Requiring deaf users to pay for a voice plan that they cannot use may be a violation of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).
4) Current deaf Sidekick users may migrate to other carriers when switching devices due to the voice plan requirement for the G1 – this would cause T-Mobile to lose customers.
I filed my complaint as a deaf G1 user for the sole purpose of making my voice heard in support of the deaf community. This T-Mobile customer care representative told me that the T-Mobile TTY operators have also been making the same request (no required voice plan) from day one. This rep also told me that other deaf users have filed the same complaint and T-Mobile might make some changes if enough customers speak up.
So, if you have time and you agree that this is a valid issue for deaf g1 users, please call the TTY T-Mobile operators and file a similar complaint. The T-Mobile TTY customer care phone number is: 1-877-296-1018
We asked T-Mobile USA to clarify their policy for deaf customers with Android phones and received the following response.
At this time, T-Mobile does not offer a data only plan for Android-powered handsets; however, we offer such plans for BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and T-Mobile Sidekick devices. We will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available.
It is unfortunate that T-Mobile allows data only plans for other phones, but not Android devices. Hopefully if enough people speak out on this issue, T-Mobile might reconsider their policy.
If you would like to express your feelings towards this issue:
- Be polite.
- Contact the T-Mobile TTY customer care phone (1-877-296-1018) and file a formal complaint.
- Post on the official T-Mobile forums thread.
- Retweet this post to help spread the message (use the greet Tweetmeme button at the top of this post).
I truly believe that if enough people speak out (in a positive way), something will be done to help our friends in the deaf community. It is odd that data only plans are offered for other smartphones, but not Android.
If we receive any new information, we will update this post.