T-Mobile’s Scammy New Online Payment System


Traditionally, one of the aspects of T-Mobile that subscribers have really liked is how quickly and easily they could pay their bills online. A few seconds was usually all that was needed, and it could always be done in a security-positive manner.

No more. T-Mobile has now taken their online payment system over to the dark side, using several well-known methods to try trick subscribers into taking actions that they probably don’t really want to take in most instances.

First, their fancy new JavaScript payment window completely breaks the Chrome browser autofill functions for providing credit card data securely. All credit card data must now be entered manually on that T-Mobile payment page.

One assumes that T-Mobile site designers are smart enough to test such major changes against the major browsers, so perhaps they’re doing this deliberately. But why?

There are clues.

For example, they’ve pre-checked the box for “saving this payment method.” That’s always a terrible policy — many users explicitly avoid saving payment data on individual sites subject to individual security lapses, and prefer to save that data securely in their browsers to be entered onto sites via autofill.

But if a firm’s goal is to encourage people to accept a default of saving a payment method on the site, breaking autofill is one way to do it, since filling out all of the credit card data every time is indeed a hassle.

There’s more. After you make your payment, T-Mobile now pushes you very hard to make it a recurring autopay payment from that payment method. The “accept” box is big and bright. The option to decline is small and lonely. Yeah, they really want you to turn on autopay, even if it means tricking you into doing it.

Wait! There’s still more! If you don’t have autopay turned on, T-mobile shows an alert, warning you that a line has been “suspended” from autopay and urging you to click and turn it back on. They say this irrespective of the fact that you never had autopay turned on for that line in the first place.

No, T-Mobile hasn’t broken any laws with any of this. But it’s all scammy at best and really the sort of behavior we’d expect from AT&T or Verizon, not from T-Mobile.

And that’s the truth.

–Lauren–

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