T-Mobile’s latest Uncarrier move, Test Drive, officially starts today. T-Mobile CEO John Legere announced in a blog post that, in only 36 hours after announcing Test Drive last week, 12,000 people had already pre-registered for the trial, which allows people to try out T-Mobile’s network for free for seven days.
The process itself is relatively straightforward: order your Test Drive online, and wait for your iPhone 5S to arrive. You have to sign for it, and your seven days won’t start until you do. Once you are done, return it in good condition to a T-Mobile retail store – and that’s it!
T-Mobile says that it won’t charge you anything unless you don’t return the iPhone. Additionally, if you scratch the screen or damage the display, or if the phone has water damage or the Find My iPhone feature switched on, users will be charged $ 100 damage fee. Seems fair enough.
What T-Mobile isn’t telling people, though, is that it is actually placing a hold on the card you use at checkout to verify your address – a hold to the tune of $699, plus taxes. For this reason, do not use a debit card when signing up for T-Mobile’s Test Drive. There is no telling how long it will take T-Mobile to remove that hold once you return the device, since no one has done it yet! Many people also don’t have an extra $700 sitting around in their checking accounts that they can afford to be without for a week.
Therefore, it’s probably best to use a credit card instead. You won’t be responsible for paying anything to the credit card, including interest, for the amount that T-Mobile holds. You are only responsible for paying your credit card company if the charge gets put through as an actual purchase, which it won’t if you’re a responsible test driver.
You know what would be really Uncarrier of T-mobile? A big warning you can’t miss, telling people to avoid using their debit cards for this. I’m waiting…