Tuesday, January 25

T-Mobile : How To Lose A Loyal Customer

Well, dear T-Mobile, after more than 6 years of loyal patronage it's time we parted ways. I used to proudly state how T-Mobile treated their customers fairly and for that good service, some loyalty should be rewarded. When the iPhone was released my excitement was tempered by my sense of loyalty to T-Mo. My reluctance to change carriers spanned the years between then and now. I even went to the length of buying a used 1st Gen iPhone that was jailbroke/unlocked to use with my T-Mo SIM. As newer versions of the iPhione were announced and released I stuck loyalty to T-Mo. As my old 1st Gen phone got more and more beat up I continued to resist the urge to leave the company who had provided fair and honest service, and jump ship to AT&T and a nice new iPhone with a faster processor and better battery life.

Over last few years I have noticed more calls getting dropped by T_Mobile. In my home office I cannot even get a signal, I have to step out into the front lawn to make calls or check voicemail for any missed calls. There have been occasions where I missed an important call from a client thanks to the shoddy reception in my office. But still I gave T-Mobile the benefit of the doubt.

Then, just last week, in an effort to cut costs, I reduced my plan minutes form the Unlimited minutes $50/month to a more reasonable 500 minutes $30/month. Considering I only use about 200 minutes a month this made perfect sense. At the time the customer service rep was very helpful to assist me in adjusting my plan and having looked at my usage history agreed it was good sense to adjust my plan. At no point was any other service discussed. I also have an unlimited SMS plan and the $10/month unlimited Internet plan.

Happy that I had saved myself $20/month I continued on my way believing T-Mo were on my side. Little did i know that behind the scenes where they plotting to sabotage my trust. Looking at Safari waiting to pick up my son from school, I was greeted by a generic login page from T-Mobile asking me to pay $1.99 per MB to use their data service. Confused, I tapped around trying to find any kind of clue to what might be going on. Nothing made sense.

So a call to T-Mo Customer Service quickly followed whereby I was informed that the $10/month internet plan was only available to subscribers of the $50/month phone plan. If I wanted unlimited internet I would have to pay $30/month. Yes, simple math. To save $20 on my phone plan I had to spend $30 on internet. I was flabbergasted. How could they do this and get away with it? Does anyone else just blindly accept these shady terms? Is this how a company hopes to reward and hold on to its loyal customers.

The line of BS the rep fed me was that certain plans were only available to certain customers. I told her I refused to be strong-armed into buying minutes I don't need just to get the internet I do need. I told her in no uncertain terms that its just zeros and ones. Its just data. Its not like the internet plan will not work on the network if the phone plan is not active. T-Mobile can pass data around however they wish. What it comes down to is pure price gouging and manipulation to ensure they get $70/month out of their customers regardless of the services they need or want. That, to me, is shady, underhanded and not the way to treat loyal customers.

As customers, we should be able to pick and choose what services we need a la carte so we pay for no more or less than we want. If I want more internet than phone minutes, I should not be penalized or forced to a different tier than a user who might want more minutes and not much internet. Carriers in the US have had their way for too long, with secret data caps, data plans unlimited in label only, questionable pricing structures. I long for the time when a rogue upstart company enters the playing field to upstage the rotten mainstays of cellular providers. I long for Skype to release a phone that uses their system over a satellite network free from cell providers. I long for a la carte plans where we can choose exactly the services we want with fair and open pricing structures.

I know moving to AT&T will likely be no better. But at least I will have a phone that is up to date, responds quickly, has a better camera. I will also be on a network where I can count on the coverage being reliable. My wife, Danielle, has been on AT&T with her iPhone since they were first released. She has reception just fine. In fact last summer when our family travelled up to Northern California for vacation, Danielle routinely had 3+ bars where I had none. I went practically the entire vacation with spotty (at very very best) cell signal.

So, thanks for the service while it lasted. You are no longer any better than AT&T which was once your most appealing characteristic.


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