18 Confessions Of 2 Former T-Mobile Reps

Eighteen insider consumer tips from ex-Tmobile customer service representatives Christof and Anon. Oh no, we’re not done with that series. Not by a long shot.

1. Pay Attention to overages

If you notice any overages thus far (#646# then send for mins, #674# then send for text) and your bill cycle isn’t over yet, call customer care, ask them to upgrade your minutes/text plan/etc. Tell them to backdate it, if you don’t need the large amount next month (we all have those off, busy months) then downgrade again….

(Photo: medalian1)


2. Make the reps notate EVERYTHING

First rule with this is going to have to be, make sure they notate EVERYTHING, if you have to, have them read back what they have, especially if you have been offered any sort of deal, supervisors will honor any notated offer when the rep goes to ask (like they will when they realize they cant do it), I’ve seen a lot of crazy deals happen with free phones, offers that didn’t exist, etc, just because reps have messed up and put “offered free blackberry pearl” or something relevant in notes. I’ve also seen reps not backdate text/rateplans properly but because they notated it, I’ve been able to credit the overages.

3. The real retention department kicks in after you’re a customer for 10 months

Once you’ve gone over 10 months of being with t-mobile, you’re eligible to go to the real retention dept, any time before 10 months, you deal with customer care. Again, I’ve seen some crazy deals come from retention, special rate plans, phone deals, etc. (all of which WILL renew your contract, but some of the deals are quite worth it)

4. Don’t call angry

We all get upset at incorrect charges, etc. but chances are if you come on the phone angry or yelling at the rep, you wont get what you want, there have been times I’ve told customers that due to them demanding things from me, and being rude, I wouldn’t waive charges. Honesty helps your case sometimes as well. I was always more willing to help someone who recently changed plans and got overages than someone who repeatedly denied using the minutes calculated or say they never sent a text in their life, when in reality their children used AIM on their phone for a day.

5. 2-Year contracts are for suckers

Quite similar to the Verizon rep’s comments, don’t get 2 year contracts, usually its just a 50$ discount, with t-mobile every 11 months of active service, you get a full discount again. TRUST ME your nokia 6103 will NOT last 2 years. Pay the extra $50 and then you can upgrade in 11 months as opposed to 22. The sales rep will try to talk you out of this, because they get an extra payout for it, but it is not worth it.

6. Call the second you think your phone is lost

For the love of god, call in the second you notice its missing, even if it may be in the car. Why is this? Because you are responsible for all charges up until you called in to suspend it, meaning if someone made 10 calls to Guatemala then you called in, you would have to pay those 10, however if from the time the suspend button is hit and the line fully suspends, you’re in the clear.

7. Upgrades

If you upgrade your phone in store and decide to return it within the 14 day trial period, make sure that sales rep memoes your account noting the price you paid, when it was returned, and make sure they call Customer Care to undo the contract extension. If you don’t ask, they won’t do it. It’s that simple. Then, if you decide to upgrade later, and the sales rep hasn’t done this, you’re f’d as there is no paper trail to prove you returned your phone and undid the extension. You’ll end up getting hosed on your next upgrade.

8. If you’re looking to activate new service, do it at the end of the month and do it at a slower location.

Sales quotas with T-Mobile are a real bitch, and they have a new focus on “accountability,” meaning if sales reps aren’t meeting their quotas, they can now be fired (one of many reasons why I quit). If you buy your phone towards the end of the month and have a rep who’s desperate for sales, he’ll cut whatever deal he can to close the sale.

9. If the bill payment kiosk in your store is closed, it’s because the sales manager in that store wants reps to offer you a new line of service when you come to pay your bill in person.

Avoid the hard sell and pay your bill online or in a store with a working kiosk.

10. Features are EVERYTHING to a sales rep at T-Mobile.

You are in a much better bargaining position for phone pricing if you’re willing to add on a few features to your account. Then, just go to the website and cancel them.

11.Not happy with your rate plan, and are out of your contract?

Talk to customer care about “preferred” rate plans. They’re a little known secret, and will not be proactively offered to you unless you ask.

12. T-Mobile sales reps are forbidden from saying anything disparaging about any handset in the store.

Do your homework before you go in. Reps know the specs of their phones, but they will not tell you that the RAZR is a hunk of crap, or that the DASH needs to be reset every two months or so.

13. MyFaves is a joke if you have a lot of friends who use T-Mobile.

All reps are aggressively selling MyFaves plans, and most people don’t need them. If you have a lot of friends and family who use T-Mobile, just add the unlimited Mobile-to-Mobile for $6.99 and save yourself some money.

14. Even if you have T-Mobile Web or Unlimited Data service, Instant Messaging programs still use your SMS bucket, and are not part of your unlimited data plan.

15. You are ALWAYS eligible for a mail-in rebate.

Even if the rep discounts your phone down to $0, if there is a mail-in rebate for it, you just have to go to tmobilerebates.com and download the rebate form and send it in.

16. Phone insurance is a total scam.

You pay a $40, $70 or $110 deductible (depending on the model) for replacements, and they won’t replace it in the store. You need to talk to Asurion (the insurance company) and not T-Mobile to get a replacement shipped to you. Once your shipment is confirmed, you’ll need to get a replacement SIM card in the store, and if you’re lucky, they might have a loaner phone for you, but that is extremely unlikely.

17. T-Mobile’s security precautions are a joke.

Put a password on your account that only you know, and make sure Customer Care has a special instruction to verify either that password or a photo ID in store before anyone can access the account. Otherwise, anyone with the last four digits of your SSN has essentially full access to your account.

18. If you see the phone for free on the website, but don’t see the phone in the store, that is a RED FLAG.

It means the phone sucks and they couldn’t unload them in the store (Motorola PEBL, for example).

— BEN POPKEN

PREVIOUSLY:
10 Things We’ve Learned From ‘Confessions of A Wireless Sales Rep’
8 Confessions Of A Former Verizon Sales Rep
7 Confessions of a Cingular Sales Rep
6 Confessions Of A Former Sprint Sales Rep
11 Confessions of a T-Mobile Sales Rep
8 Confessions of an Alltel Sales Rep

Comments

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  1. jeffrose says:

    Hello. These posts about all the ways to make the most of your contact with cell-phone provides is great. Does anyone know of any tips for working with Canadian providers? (Obviously some may be compatible). Specifically TELUS. Nearing the end of a contract…

  2. benn09 says:

    It’s a good thing Cingular reps aren’t forbidden from bad mouthing the phones, unlike the T-mobile reps. At least that is what I encountered last year with my crappy LG C1500 that was replaced twice and then upgraded to a crappy but working Nokia.

    Because of what that rep told me in the store, I made sure the Warranty Department sent me a different model after my replacement phone started to deteriorate. They sure don’t like to hear that their own employees think the products they sell are worthless.

  3. RumorsDaily says:

    Talk to customer care about “preferred” rate plans.

     

    Out of curiosity, what are the preferred rate plan? I’m out of contract on T-Mobile and would be interested in getting a better deal.

  4. kerry says:

    Rule #6 makes me kind of mad. I was just wondering about this today, and now I learn that if someone mugs me for my phone while I’m on the subway, I won’t be able to call to say it’s stolen until I get home. So I’m liable for any charges incurred even though I was not capable of notifying T-Mobile? Nuts to that.
    #14 is also a lie, as the Sidekick uses data for instant messaging, NOT text. Doesn’t matter because both are unlimited but, still.

  5. dantsea says:

    @kerry: Sidekicks are basically a subscription service that Danger (the manufacturer of Hiptop, aka the Sidekick) licenses to telcos so the pricing and plans are a little different from that of other data-capable handsets.

    When I switched from an SK2 to an SDA, I found out the hard way that number 14 is indeed correct unless you purchase an unlimited text plan, separate from the unlimited data. At least it wasn’t a costly mistake, as the nice lady at T-Mobile heard the panic in my voice and made the scary bill go away.

  6. jopari: stuck on P.2 says:

    14. Even if you have T-Mobile Web or Unlimited Data service, Instant Messaging programs still use your SMS bucket, and are not part of your unlimited data plan.

    even though this sounds obvious, i learned this fact the hard way. wish i had read this before. oh well, i love t-mobile anyway. myfaves plan w/ 300 minutes, no complaints yet :).

  7. Bpj says:

    I have been with t-mobile for 6 years and haven’t been in a contract for 2 years. I called to get a new phone and they wouldn’t offer anything cheaper than whats on the web page. He was giving me $100 off and $50 mail in rebate off the top razr if i signed a 2 year deal, so the phone would still be $99. I asked if for only a year and then he said he could only give me $50 off. I told him i was going to look at other companies and he was content with that. Maybe he didn’t care or my negotiating skill suck.

  8. Helvetian says:

    @Bpj: Or maybe (unfortunately) you are low-value to T-Mobile? Depends on your rate plan. If you are $39.99, you’re good to go. Below that and good luck. A Preferred Plan is $39.99 1000 N/W but with a 2-year contract only.

  9. missdona says:

    I got offered 1500min w/ N/W for $49.99 from a TMo retention rep.

    I jumped ship for a Sprint SERO plan (as described in the Sprint… confessions) thread. 1250 w/ N/W @ 7, Mobile to Mobile and unlimted internet for $49.99.

  10. rbb says:

    #6 – OK, so I panic and think I lost my phone on the bus. I call T-mobile and get it suspended. Then I go home and find it on the nightstand.

    What then? Is getting the phone turned back on as simple as calling t-mobile or is there a another procedure to follow?

  11. everclear75 says:


    @Bpj: That is also my situation.
    I’ve been with T-Mobile, then Voicestream, since 9/10/01 :0. I have 3 phones under the family plan,
    and they wouldn’t budge on any deals/discounts or any other such ilk. If all of my family and friends weren’t on T-Mobile I’d jump ship.

  12. detrop says:

    Ditto to Bpj & everclear75, although they did offer me the razr for 29.99 with a 2 year contract. if it’s a peice of crap, though, i guess i should consider switching. what a pain. c’mon t-mobile gimme stuff for free!

  13. ccs178 says:

    #12 isn’t entirely true or varies from location to location. The reps in the store I go to near my office (In Manhattan) are very honest about handsets. I have upgraded my phone twice in the last 2-3 years and each time they have steered me away from Motorola to a cheaper Nokia.

  14. jonnypage says:

    Great tips, Still waiting for a confession from a Bell Mobility (canada) employee!

  15. jaredharley says:

    18. If you see the phone for free on the website, but don’t see the phone in the store, that is a RED FLAG.

    It means the phone sucks and they couldn’t unload them in the store (Motorola PEBL, for example).

    This is exactly how my wife and I got our PEBLs when we signed up with T-Mobile, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. They’re an awesome phone, and I absolutely love the voice command menus. No more programming “voice names” for your contacts! Compared to my Moto SLVR L6, the PEBL has much better reception. Biggest downside to the PEBL is that, in my opinion, the camera sucks – but don’t they all?

  16. mistaketv says:

    As a former U.S. Cellular customer service rep, I can tell you a lot of these apply to their customers as well. See below for a point-by-point comparison:

    1. Pay Attention to overages

    Backdating is an option if you call before your bill cycle ends. There is a fee, but they will usually waive it once if you ask nicely and have not received a lot of previous bill adjustments.

    2. Make the reps notate EVERYTHING

    This is critical. Make ANYONE you talk to note what they told you. Don’t take any excuses and make them read it back to you if you have any doubt that it has been documented in the computer. This is your best insurance that someone else down the line will follow through on what you’ve been promised.

    3. The real retention department kicks in after you’re a customer for 10 months

    While there is no minimum qualifying period to be able to deal with them, Customer Relations, U.S. Cellular’s retention department, is empowered to make some deals, but don’t expect the moon. They will make reasonable accommodations to keep you as a customer depending on your time with the company, your contract status, your adjustment history, and your attitude. As much as they want to keep you, you are only, after all, one customer. Don’t make demands; be reasonable.

    4. Don’t call angry

    This is just plain good advice when talking to any customer service rep on the phone. They will work much harder for you if you are not the ugly caller. Most of them actually want to help you, but they have boundaries they must abide.

    5. 2-Year contracts are for suckers

    While this seems to be true of a lot of other services, U.S. Cellular does not offer promotional features like unlimited nights and weekends and unlimited CallMe (incoming) minutes for 1-year contracts. This often causes a problem with equipment, since phones don’t always last two years. Customer Relations can sometimes help with phone discounts by allowing you to extend your contract and upgrade early. Otherwise, you are eligible for upgrade within the last four months of your two-year contract.

    6. Call the second you think your phone is lost

    See above.

    7. Upgrades

    Same as above, except trial period is 30 days.

    8. If you’re looking to activate new service, do it at the end of the month and do it at a slower location.

    I was a CSR, not a sales rep, but I would imagine there is some truth to this with any wireless sales operation.

    9. If the bill payment kiosk in your store is closed, it’s because the sales manager in that store wants reps to offer you a new line of service when you come to pay your bill in person.

    Does not apply, to my knowledge. Call #PAY from your USCC phone to make a surcharge-free payment by check or credit card. (And the call is free.)

    10. Features are EVERYTHING to a sales rep at T-Mobile.

    Not sure about this one.

    11. Not happy with your rate plan, and are out of your contract?

    To my knowledge, there are not a lot of secret retention plans with U.S. Cellular.

    12. T-Mobile sales reps are forbidden from saying anything disparaging about any handset in the store.

    I don’t know about forbidden, but sales reps probably aren’t the people to get straight answers from about phones. Check out phonescoop.com for detailed specs and user reviews before you shop, and for God’s sake, know what features you want/need before you go to buy a phone.

    13. MyFaves is a joke if you have a lot of friends who use T-Mobile.

    Doesn’t apply.

    14. Even if you have T-Mobile Web or Unlimited Data service, Instant Messaging programs still use your SMS bucket, and are not part of your unlimited data plan.

    This is true of easyedge service and mobile IM on U.S. Cellular as well.

    15. You are ALWAYS eligible for a mail-in rebate.

    Not true with USCC. Conditions apply. Make sure you read the fine print.

    16. Phone insurance is a total scam.

    Pretty much universally true. Although USCC uses The Signal for their insurance and the deductible is lower, the same pitfalls apply. If you DO opt for the insurance, read the fine print and know exactly what’s covered. Otherwise your claim may be denied and you are out a phone and $5.95/mo.

    17. T-Mobile’s security precautions are a joke.

    This is true of U.S. Cellular as well. However, having a password on your account, rather than using the last 4 or your SSN may preclude you from accessing some automated services by phone (checking minutes, paying bills).

    18. If you see the phone for free on the website, but don’t see the phone in the store, that is a RED FLAG.

    Generally ignore anything sales-related you see on the website. It is a completely separate distribution channel, so prices and requirements will vary from in-store retail. Deal with a corporate-owned store whenever possible–they are typically more knowledgeable and you know where to go when something goes wrong.

  17. geel says:

    Is it possible to get the BlackBerry 8700g for free ?

    Any one have any ideas??

  18. zyphbear says:

    14. Even if you have T-Mobile Web or Unlimited Data service, Instant Messaging programs still use your SMS bucket, and are not part of your unlimited data plan.

    While this is true on any device other than the Sidekicks, you can look around and download NON-T-Mobile software that uses data instead.

    For example:
    On the BlackBerry, you can download Yahoo Messanger and GTalk, both uses data, not SMS. Then there is also other programs like “WebMessanger” and beta software like “JiveTalk” (both Trilian like software that lets you sign into more than one service.)

    Though I still save the money by getting the “Family Messanging Bundle”, which includes unlimited SMS and MMS (as well as any email if you had a traditional handset on the family plan.) Instead of $14.99 per line, I pay $20 for both lines and get MMS from friends and family too and don’t have to worry about any extra charges.

    And MyFaves just is useless for most people. Only 5 people and you lose a chunk of your anytime minutes? Not worth it since you don’t get to keep your mobile minutes.

    When looking into getting a new handset/phone/device, look on ebay first. I have 2 unlocked 8700C Blackberries (cingular, for the curious), that is on a FamilyPlan. I just switched out the chip, called and changed over the plan and I was set to go. (Plus the ability to change to another BB without calling due to the website allowing to change the device linked to your account on your own.) They were each only $70 plus shipping, unlocking was $15 (may be less now that the law has passed), but that was less than even a 2 year commitment for TWO and I didn’t have to commit my life to T-Mobile. (though I have been with them for more than 5 years). I do wish T-Mobile gave a little more flexibility to be able to upgrade 2 NON-Phone devices without spending a fortune. (Partner is deaf, so he can’t TALK.)

  19. zyphbear says:

    @geek 101: Won’t be “Free”, but scour eBay, you can get it much cheaper, just keep an eye out like it did.

  20. jopari: stuck on P.2 says:

    @jaredharley: i concur. i love my pebl-it just doesn’t feel like a typical phone. i’ve used a friend’s razr, another friend’s lg chocolate, and another friend’s sony ericsson-i wouldn’t give up my pebl for anything. red flag, indeed. :)

  21. mac-phisto says:

    “9. If the bill payment kiosk in your store is closed…Avoid the hard sell and pay your bill online or in a store with a working kiosk.”

    now where’s the fun in that? i used to pay my verizon bill in a mall location just to see what kind of deal i could get out of them. i’d string them along for awhile, neglecting to mention that i was an existing customer & if i didn’t like what i heard, i’d whip out the checkbook & my bill.

    the looks i got were priceless…

  22. Meatloaf says:

    For any of you wanting to get out of a T-Mobile contract without paying paying any penalties, now is the perfect opportunity. T-Mobile has decided to increase their text messaging prices which constitutes a material breach of contract on their part, allowing customers to cancel their contract without paying the $200-per line ETF.

    http://www.fatwallet.com/t/24/715118

    There are many people waiting for the iPhone to be released (tentatively June 11) and are searching for a way to jump ship without paying any cancellation penalties. It appears Verizon has also recently changed their text messaging rates, allowing those customers to cancel as well. Other methods of canceling contracts without penalties include swapping your plan with another person or citing specific problems with your service.

    http://www.intomobile.com/2007/03/20/ideas-how-to-cancel-y

  23. John Stracke says:

    @geek 101:

    Is it possible to get the BlackBerry 8700g for free ?

    See rule 6. ;-)

  24. dreamriverdesign says:

    ——————————-
    DEAD PHONE
    ——————————-
    I am deaf and I have been using the sidekick 2, but it died on me and not thrilled with that. It died on the 13th month of my one year contract, no warranty.

    So I got one dead phone and no way to communicate with my wife whom is hearing and eight month pregnant.

    T-Mobile tried to get me to buy a new Sidekick for $200 or $300 depending on contract with no rebate except what is offered online.

    I hated the Sidekick for one reason mainly, I cannot sync it with my Macintosh. So I am looking at the Blackberry.

    ——————————-
    CHEAP PHONE
    ——————————-
    You can look at wirefly.com or deafpagers.com to see about cheap new phones, of course you will have to sign up for a contract. You can get that blackberry 8700g for free if you sign up with a 2 year contract. I am personally waiting out for either the Blackberry 8800 that suposed to ONE DAY come to T-Mobile.

    ——————————-
    SOLUTION
    ——————————-
    I managed to find this old clamshell motorolla phone from T-Mobile (5+ years old), I just slipped in my Sidekick Unlimited Data Plan SIM card, and now my wife can send me a SMS message when she goes into labor.

    ——————————-
    WAITING
    ——————————-
    I am waiting out on the iPhone, not really to get it, but to see all the other phone’s price drop. Anyone know anything on the 8800 for T-Mobile?

    CHEERS!

  25. gadgetchic says:

    how do i get out of my contract for free, i have basically no service where i live and my sidekick sucks ass.

  26. derami says:

    does it really suck? report it to http://allsux.com

  27. Azra2424 says:

    I switched to T-Mobile just a year ago. I was told I could access my AOL account from my new phone and I could us it to text message. Curious, I accessed my account info from the phone; noted how my Buddy List was also accessible, and then logged everything off. I was aware that the text messaging was a dollar a pop, and I wasn’t interested in incurring the additional charges.

    The next time I logged onto my AOL e-mal account, I noticed my own screen name appearing on my Buddy List. I did deduce that this could be because of the new cell phone accessing the account. I triple checked the cell phone to make sure it was properly logged off and it was.

    So I thought nothing of the Buddy List issue … until my T-Mobile bill arrived. Listed on it was a $10.00 fee for the text messaging that I never used.

    I promptly called T-Mobile. The following is the what amounted to the exchange:

    Me: I have a $10 charge on my bill for text messaging that I never used.

    CSR: The charges are for instant messages that you sent from your phone.

    Me: That’s unlikely since I never used it. I would like these charges removed.

    CSR: Well, more than likely one of your kids did the instant messaging.

    Me: I don’t have children.

    CSR: Well, I can’t reverse the charges, but I can credit you 10 free instant messages on your next billing cycle.

    Me: I don’t use instant messaging. I don’t need instant messaging. If I want to talk to someone, I dial them. That’s what I go tthe cell phone for.

    CSR: Are you sure you didn’t leave the phone out where your kids could get a hold of it?

    Me: I DON’T have kids. When were these IM’s sent?

    CSR gives dates and times that I was at work.

    Me: Well, obviously there’s some sort of glitch and I’m being charged for someone else’s IM’s. Could you please check my phone records and see if there are any additional IM charges?

    CSR confirms that three additional IMs have been sent from my cell phone just over the last 5 minutes.

    Me: Well, doesn’t that confirm what I’ve been telling you, seeing as I’ve been on my cell phone with you all this time?

    CSR then reverses charges on those three IMs. I log onto AOL with her and we notice that every time an e-mail is sent to my account, an IM charge gets banged onto my cell phone bill. She gives me a code to disconnect the IM feature. It doesn’t work. She then tells me that she can disconnect the service from her end BUT… I can never IM again.

    I beg her to do the deed. She does, and we test it. Success! I am no longer having SPAM charged to my cell phone as IMs!!

    CSR: Is there anything else I can do for you today? No? Okay, well, we’ve disconnected your IM feature; I’ve removed the charges for the IMs that appeared on your account during this billing cycle, and I’ve set you up with 10 free IMs. Thank you for using T-Mobile.

    Me: Hey! We just dis- [click]

    Great. I was able to prove that the charges were not made by me; that it was a screw up with their software; and I now have 10 free IMs for a feature that has been disconnected!

    Of course, this pales next to the conversation with the CSR I spoke with when my husband misplaced his cell phone. I put the temporary suspend on his phone, and was told that if we couldn’t find it, I’d be charged $250 for Early Termination of Service – even though I’d been out of contract for two months! I wasn’t even offered a replacement phone!!

    Is there a cell phone provider out there that doesn’t suck?

  28. alaaaaaaaaa says:

    Hey guys i was wondering if anyone has any ideas or solutions for getting a new phone from T-Mobile. I have gone through FOUR Razr’s already and the last THREE have all had the same problem (they sound like freaking vibrators!!)

    I just got off the phone with them and was told all they could do was either :A.Give me another P.O.S. Razr B. Upgrade me to a different phone (i would still pay regular price as it appears on site) or C. Give me another phone without any of the features i want (bluetooth etc…) I cannot explain how pissed i am thus am wondering if anyone has any ideas as to waht to do.

    I hope someone can help.

  29. marzman says:

    I am a T-mob rep in a call-center and there is one thing I wanted to clear up:
    16. Phone insurance is a total scam.

    I don’t agree with this. If your phone is lost or stolen, then the only way to get a new phone is upgrade (requires contract extension) or buy a new phone at full retail (expensive). Paying the $110 deductible for a BB pearl, sidekick or the T-Mob. Wing isn’t great but paying 300 to 400 for a new one or starting your 2 yr contact over for a discounted price of $200 isn’t great either. I’d rather have insurance and go through that hassle.

    Also – Something not said about lost or stolen phones:
    IF your phone is lost or stolen (or you suspect they are- CALL!) A lost-stolen suspension is Free and lasts for 30 days. There is no charge to set one up.
    To Resume service if you find the phone later takes just a call. We Literally click a couple of buttons and service is restored. No charges. Just turn your phone off, turn it back on, and you are up and running.