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Call Kurtis: Millions of MetroPCS Phones Could Stop Working After Cell Tower Upgrades

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Eight-time Emmy Award winner Kurtis Ming is CBS13's consumer...
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ROCKLIN (CBS13) — MetroPCS customers’ phones may soon stop working.

When Cliff Calahan said he was told he needed to buy a new phone to keep his service, he called Kurtis.

Every MetroPCS customer who bought a phone before last July will eventually need to replace their phones, a company spokesperson confirmed to Call Kurtis.

But how soon?

Calahan said he got a new phone last summer, and isn’t interested in buying another.

Needing a reliable cellphone for his construction job, he’s worried he may not have a choice.

Calahan also bought one for his son, bringing his total cost up to about $300.

But he said an employee at a MetroPCS store just told him both phones will stop working next month, when the company upgrades its cell towers.

“Now it’s pretty much trash,” he said.

T-Mobile and MetroPCS merged last year, and Call Kurtis learned MetroPCS is switching to T-Mobile’s technology.

That means millions of customers with a phone bought before July 2013 will eventually need a new phone to work with the T-Mobile technology — or they won’t be able to connect to cell phone towers at all.

“I don’t wanna buy a phone,” Calahan said. “I already have a phone, a brand new phone.”

Consumer attorney Stuart Talley said companies should give customers years of notice if their phones may stop working.

“I think they have an obligation to provide him with a phone that will work with the new system at no extra cost to him,” Talley said.

MetroPCS and T-Mobile said upgrades will not start in Sacramento next month as Calahan said he was told — instead, they should start sometime next year.

And they say customers will get at least 90 days notice.

On top of that, the company confirmed customers will get a comparable phone for free, although they’ll have to pay taxes and fees.

Those taxes and fees can run anywhere from $10 to $50, depending on the phone, and MetroPCS said they will offer credits for phone when you trade in your old device — which will most likely cover those costs, the company said.

MetroPCS has already started similar upgrades in part of New England and Las Vegas. The company said this chart on the MetroPCS website shows the current upgrade options.

MetroPCS also sent along this PDF showing the current value of any phones customers trade in.

Saving up for a new motorcycle, Calahan is glad his new phone won’t cost him as much as he thought.

“I’m hoping everybody can be treated fairly,” he said.

T-MOBILE/METROPCS FULL STATEMENT

This migration will give MetroPCS customers a better experience on a better network at no cost to them. To do this, we’re asking customers to trade-in their old phone for a brand new phone running on our super-fast network. We’re offering a trade-in value well above market prices for these old phones. Our intent is to ensure that our customers don’t have to pay anything extra for a new phone that is comparable to their old one.

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