Metro by T-Mobile dealer concerns ‘not going away’

Independent dealers for the prepaid Metro by T-Mobile service say the “un-carrier” isn’t budging when it comes to new policies that went into effect this month, and they remain at loggerheads with the company.

The National Wireless Independent Dealer Association (NWIDA) issued the following statement on Friday: “NWIDA has been in contact with the Federal Trade Commission, the US Department of Justice and with Washington, DC lawyers – well known and highly regarded in antitrust and telecom distribution issues. Based on conversations to date, we will continue our ongoing discussions with them to help determine the best resolution for the independently owned Metro by T-Mobile dealers.”

NWIDA President Adam Wolf said some dealers are not speaking publicly because they fear T-Mobile might try to take their stores away. NWIDA doesn’t own or operate any stores.

“It’s certainly not going away,” Wolf told FierceWireless, adding that thousands of dollars are being lost as a result of the new policies.

As of October 1, changes went into effect that modify the compensation that dealers receive. One of those changes, according to Wolf, is the removal of any compensation for taking a renewal payment on a Metro by T-Mobile phone.

RELATED: Metro dealers accuse T-Mobile of trying to poach customers

Another change was the requirement that all Metro dealers buy 100% of their accessories from one vendor, adding as much as 20% to their cost. Accessories historically have represented a big area of a dealer's business.

However, since that policy was first announced, NWIDA was informed the dealers could sell the inventory that they have on hand through the end of the year.  

The Metro Dealers Unity Group started circulating a petition online that spells out their grievances and what they’re asking for; the changes were said to affect 8,000 stores. One of the issues is dealers say they're being treated more like a franchise, which they are not. The petition currently has about 2,150 signatures.

Dealers’ relationships with carriers always have seen some degree of turmoil, regardless of the carrier, but dealers have characterized the moves from T-Mobile, since its merger with Sprint was finalized, as some of the most aggressive they’ve seen in years.  

Earlier this year, Metro by T-Mobile gave notice to non-exclusive dealers that they wouldn’t be allowed to sell Metro by T-Mobile if they sold other brands. NWIDA at the time said Metro by T-Mobile had given a 120-day termination notice to stores that sold other prepaid brands alongside Metro by T-Mobile.