Helio Baits Customer With 1-Year Contract, Switches Him To 2-Year

I wanted to sign up for the Ocean on May 13th, but I noticed that on the web site, the only option for contracts was a 24 month agreement. Given that Helio is a new company, I wasn’t sure I wanted to commit to two years. I called Helio to find out if I could get a one-year agreement. The customer service rep that I spoke to was very accommodating and said I could have a one year deal. I mentioned a web promo code that would get me some other discounts, including the $30 activation fee waved, and $25 off the first four months of service, and she said that I could have all that, as well as a nice discount on the phone itself. I signed up then and there.

I got the phone a few days later and was pretty pleased for a while. I then went to my online Helio account for the first time and saw that my contract expiration date was 5/13/09….I called up customer support and explained my story to the rep, who told me that one year contacts aren’t even possible to set up in their systems. I told him that the other rep promised me that as well as the other discounts, to which he replied that none of that was showing up on my account summary. He said the best he could do was offer me a $20 credit….

(Photo: goblynalchemist)

I tried another rep a week later, hoping to hear a different story. Unfortunately, I didn’t. I got passed off to someone else who might have been a manager who took the name and number of the rep and promised to deal with her internally. Unfortunately, there was nothing they could do for me. Even when I threatened to cancel the account, they didn’t budge.

A few days later, I did just that. I called to cancel the account. They wanted to know why, and I told them the whole story. Again, they didn’t seem to care that they were losing a customer. Thus ended my short stay with Helio service.

Typically, I thought start-up companies liked to KEEP their customers, not lose them. Coupled with some of the other things I’ve read, not to mention the coverage isn’t great, I really think Helio is destined to go the way of Amp’d Mobile.

- Chris

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Helio Call Centers Still Staffed By Nincompoops
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Comments

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  1. Cuschoolie1 says:

    I’m having a ton of problems with Helio right now too. I’m only two days into my contract with them and it doesn’t look like i’ll be with them much longer. I’ve talked to so many people in their call centers and it’s been a pathetic experience. I emailed too and I’m waiting to hear back from them before I make the final decision to go back to Cingular.

    I don’t know why new companies think they can survive in such an overloaded market place by having piss poor customer service.

  2. Naval Patel says:

    I would cancel and switch to Sprint SERO, plans with extreme discounts. They include unlimited texting, internet, and nights and weekends free, with nights starting at 7 PM.

    [www.sprint.com]

    You can use “savings@sprint.com” as the e-mail.

  3. ogman says:

    You seem to have a couple of misconceptions that need to be corrected.

    First, you obviously are not a good customer, especially if you expect honesty from salespeople. Seriously, they can’t sell crappy product by telling the truth and your unreasonable expectation is maliciously preventing the salesperson from earning a living at your expense. What are you, privileged?

    Finally, where the heck did you get the idea that customers matter? Listen up old school; retail sales are so last millennium. Todays companies are mere investment opportunities for the well-heeled fratboy and training wheels for the future corporate CEO (or President). Customer service cuts into the private jet fund and will not be tolerated. The consumer should be satisfied with the meager offerings provided and pay more attention to Paris Hilton. Chill the negativity, eh?

  4. acambras says:

    I am not trying to blame the customer here. That said, it’s always a good idea to get the terms IN WRITING before you sign up. :-(

  5. virgilstar says:

    Yet another reason to tell them “this call is being recorded for security purposes”, and then actually record it. Windows mobile smartphones can do this with a cheapo software package.

    Its a bit late now (given your story is posted here), but I bet you could have got them to reinstate, by saying “what if I could get you a recording of your rep’ giving me the discounts?”

    At a stretch they may even have a recording. They’re probably using it now for “training” purposes… this is how not to make our company bankrupt by giving too many discounts!

  6. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    “It looks like you only offer a 2 year contract. If I sign up, can I get a 1 year plan contract instead?”
    “Sure!”
    “How about about a discount on the phone?”
    “Sure!”
    “…and a credit toward my first month?”
    “Sure, we can do that too! Just sign up!”
    “How about a puppy?”
    “What type?”
    “Ummm….cocker spaniel…”
    “No problem, we can get that in the mail for you as soon as you sign up!”
    “Hmm…I’m not sure.”
    “How about rocket pants?”
    “Excuse me?”
    “Sign up right now, and we will send you free rocket pants!”
    “…and the puppy?”
    “Sure! We’ll give the puppy rocket pants too! Just sign up RIGHT NOW!”
    “You got yourself a deal!”

  7. Morgan says:

    Don’t even joke about that, AlteredBeast. I myself have been taken in many times by the allure of rocket pants.

  8. “So… where are my rocket pants?”
    “Excuse me sir? We don’t provide rocket pants.”
    “But your employed representative told me you did.”
    “I’m sorry sir, he was mistaken.”
    “Well, if your paid representative told me something, you’re liable for it.”
    “Oh, sir. You’re just being a terrible customer, any and all businesses lie to you constantly.”
    “No… That’s called fraud.”

  9. MentallyRetired says:

    virgilstar says:
    Windows mobile smartphones can do this with a cheapo software package.

    With the Helio Ocean you can record a call using the default software by pressing Menu -> 7. The ironing is delicious.

  10. RonDiaz says:

    D

  11. RonDiaz says:

    Damn, those SERO plans look awesome. My ladies on my plan all think they need text and I would love Data, wish I would have found out about those when I switched to Sprint from Midwest Wireless in November.

  12. ShortbusKid says:

    I work in the wireless industry and know for a fact that two year contracts require either a signed agreement from the customer or an oral agreement captured via recording over the phone. This oral agreement is typically done in an IVR where it reads of the T&C’s either in part or in whole to let you know you’re agreeing to a two year deal. If you didn’t sign or “virtually sign” an agreement then the contract is not enforceable by law.

  13. Pi_Equals_3 says:

    I would have requested the one year contract the customer service representative said was possible in writing so that I could have proof.

    Since the web site only stated that two year contracts were available that would make me suspicious about getting a one year contract.

    Glad you were able to cancel your account without any further problems.

  14. royal72 says:

    thank god my family is no longer a slave to the cell phone industry. we dumped our cingular contract a couple of months ago and don’t miss it. with home/work phones and the internet, we have plenty of communication with the world. heck, i may write someone a real letter and send it via snail mail just to do it.

  15. RonDiaz says:

    Life without cell phone, I am considering trying that once my 2 year is up. I would probably still keep a prepay or something, the cell is invaluable when you wreck your car in a far away town or something like that I know from experience. But with Skype, Wifi, Work phone, I think maybe I could get by with no home phone at all.

  16. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    @RonDiaz:

    If emergencies are your concern, get an old analog phone w/o service. You can still call 911, and from more areas than digital networks cover. (At least, I think that is still the case)

  17. E-Bell says:

    @RonDiaz:

    Ron Diaz? Mahabone, my brother!

  18. ucdcsteve says:

    I had a similar situation with Sprint recently, where I was promised by a customer service agent that I would not have to renew my contract (two years) to use an earned credit to purchase a new phone to replace one that was under warranty/died. I had a “note” in my account to honor my old contract.

    When I finally got in touch with someone from executive customer service, he read the note and told me there was no way that was even possible. Without confirmation numbers and accountability from customer service agents (using incorrect names and not having employee numbers), there is no way to prevent them from outright lies.

    I’m honestly considering pre-paid phones. No contract. I don’t use the web/texts, so it makes sense for me.

  19. kbarrett says:

    If you want 911 service, buy a $20 tracfone, and let the time run out.

    Same 911 service as the dead analog phone, but it uses the new(er) digital network.

  20. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    Yeah, forget the analog cell phone. Battery life sucks on those. And when analog is completely phased out, it will be totally useless. Kbarrett has the right idea. I put a deactivated SIM in one of my old phones and it still talks to the network. So 911 calls are definitely possible. Even without the SIM, the phone says “No SIM. Emergency Only”. I’m sure you’ve got a friend or relative that has an old Motorola RAZR they’re not using. ;)

  21. Buran says:

    @ogman: And you are a troll.

  22. Hawkins says:

    @ogman: Mr. Ogman speaks the truth.

  23. EtherealStrife says:

    If you don’t use your cellphone for hundreds of minutes every month, T-Mobile prepaid is quite good. After you spend $100 (1k minutes) you only need to put extra minutes on it once a year to keep it active.

    @Hawkins: Agreed.

  24. puka_pai says:

    @Buran: Ogman is not a troll. It’s called “sarcasm”, bud.

  25. shdwsclan says:

    Dude, helio is funded by scientology….they dont need customers….well, they need businesses, thats why they are offering those phones….

    Scientology is basically trying to extort businesses that buy these blackberry replacements…since they can listen in on all the conversations….and even blackmail gov’t officials….

    Why dont they care about you?
    Because your a nobody, you are no worth to them….

    Now, if you were a senator….and for example…..had a mistress and you used your helio to call her….then….well, if you would of called her, they would hold this over your head….but if you were a senator…then they would do anything to keep you just so they could dig up some dirt on you….

    Have you heard of OSA ?

  26. royal72 says:

    @RonDiaz: “Life without cell phone, I am considering trying that once my 2 year is up. I would probably still keep a prepay or something, the cell is invaluable when you wreck your car in a far away town or something like that I know from experience. But with Skype, Wifi, Work phone, I think maybe I could get by with no home phone at all.”

    i ended up just paying the early termination fees. since i got a few bucks to offset the etfs by selling my phones and not having a bill covered the rest within a month, it was pretty painless. think my favorite part was calling and canceling. the rep was nice enough and it struck me as hilarious that he couldn’t fathom how i could possibly go on without a cell phone?! to which i laughed and replied, “quite easily, but thank you for your concern”.

  27. Ponygirl says:

    @acambras:

    Have you ever tired to get something in writing from these mega corporations? Impossible I tell you!

  28. @Ponygirl: Impossible, indeed…

  29. bradly1101 says:

    I was baited with the promise of being able to use my phone as a tethered modem for my laptop, which after activating I found out was impossible.

    I had to use the BBB to sort out a seperate refund issue that has been resolved.

    The phone and service are fine, but the employees don’t know what they’re doing.

  30. Anonymous says:

    This same thing happened to us. We did NOT agree to a 2-year contract. We recently cancelled our membership after the first year because helio has horrible customer service. Soon after that we began getting calls about owing 400 and some odd dollars for early cancellation. After a million phone calls to and from the company we find out it is because we supposedly agreed to a 2 year contract. However, when I asked for proof of this, they had nothing. Eventually that led me to calling their corporate office, where I left a message and asked to get proof of the phone conversation that we agreed to the 2 year in. Do we have any legal obligation to pay the early term fee if they cannot prove that we ever agreed to 2 years? Especially when they don’t even offer a contract in writing, it is all online, which we were never even aware of until this incident. In addition to this, we have never once received a paper bill from helio, our last bill was sent to collection a month after it was due because we were not aware we owed money for any additional charges. If anyone has any further knowledge of these issues, or legal action that can be taken, any advice would be greatly appreciated.