T-Mobile hasn’t responded to our request to confirm the new charge, but according to the internal documents obtained by The T-Mo Report and corroborated on Reddit, the $35 Device Connection Charge will be applied to all new postpaid device activations. Previously, the company only charged an activation fee if you used an “assisted channel” like in-store customer support to set up a device on a new line of service. Online orders were exempt from this fee, so you could avoid being charged by using the T-Mobile website. With this alleged new charge, all new postpaid device activations are subject to the fee, regardless of whether you were assisted.
This isn’t a new concept; Verizon and AT&T already charge similar activation fees. But it’s particularly interesting coming from T-Mobile, which stakes its Uncarrier image on not engaging in this kind of nonsense. T-Mobile is also responsible for shrinking the number of major wireless carriers in the US from four to three with its Sprint merger. (Incidentally, it’s easier to impose bogus fees with fewer competitors.) Our supposed replacement for that fourth carrier doesn’t look too promising, and in the meantime, it looks like T-Mobile intends to become more carrier-like in the worst ways. That, to put it bluntly, really stinks.