T-Mobile: We Can't Help You, Sell Your Brand New Defective Phone On eBay

A link to the following letter to T-Mobile’s president just popped into our inbox. It seems that if you receive a T-Mobile Sidekick for Christmas and it’s defective… your options are fairly limited. T-Mobile’s best solution to your broken phone? Sell it on eBay.

From LiveJournal:

Robert Dotson, President
T-Mobile
12920 SE 38th Street
Bellevue, WA 98006-1350

Dear Mr. Dotson:

I am writing to inform you of the appalling service I have received from your company as well as your employees.

I received a Sidekick Slide for a Christmas present on December 25, 2007 from [X person]. Upon some thought, however, I decided I didn’t want the phone and asked X to return it. [X person] having bought the phone as present, assumed with the Christmas season that there would be no problem returning the phone, only to find out that since he had bought the phone in advance, the 14 day period had expired and he was now stuck with a $350 dollar phone.

I, for one, thought he must be mistaken, and asked him to send the phone to me in [redacted] from where he lived in [redacted]. Upon receiving the phone along with the receipt of purchase, I called T-Mobile customer service and explained my problem to two people. Both representatives basically said, we’re sorry, but since you’re not a T-Mobile customer, we can’t help you, but you’re welcome to write to our customer service department and we suggest you sell the phone on eBay.

I have to say that this is the first time that a company has ever conveyed the message that since I’m not a subscriber I am not valued as a consumer. It was also the first time I’d ever been told, “too bad, sell it on eBay.”

I’m sure you can appreciate I was a bit dumbstruck by this suggestion and thought by writing a letter to your Customer Service Department I might receive a bit more satisfaction, but of course this was not to be. I received a letter back with my name misspelled (is it really that hard to check the letter I sent for the correct spelling?) and was told the same story, “you’re not a customer; you are not valued even as a potential customer. You deal with it.”

Since I clearly wasn’t going to be helped by T-Mobile in any way, I put the phone up for sale on eBay. It was bought by a nice man in [redacted], who three days after he received the phone, e-mailed me to say he’d taken the phone to the T-Mobile near his home to have it activated only to be told that a brand new phone, which was still in the box and had all the accessories in plastic, was broken and couldn’t be repaired. You can imagine our collective shock.

I apologized and asked him to send me the phone so I could refund him his money. When the phone arrived I took it my local T-Mobile store, where one of your representatives X actually attempted to help me with my problem for a change.

It seemed that there was something blocking the Sim card outlet and thusly the phone couldn’t be used, but X recommended an outside vendor to repair the phone and gave me his business card.

As helpful as X was I still waited to speak to the manager, because surely there had to be something that could be done. At the very least the phone could have been exchanged for a model that worked; it didn’t have to be new it just needed to work.

After waiting 30 minutes for the manager to come back from lunch, however, the manager then told me the same thing your customer service reps told me over the phone — that since I didn’t have your phone service, I wasn’t under warrantee and thusly he wasn’t obligated to help me, or even attempt to do so and I was out of luck.

At this point I decided that my best course of action was to run the offending phone over with my car, take photos of it with my camera phone and post the entire business to YouTube as a reason to stay away from T-Mobile. First, however, I decided to visit this outside vendor to see what he thought about the entire matter. He confirmed what I already knew that the phone was brand new and nothing was wrong with it, the catch however, was that since all the prongs in the Sim slot didn’t retract when you slid the Sim card in, the phone was worthless. In short, the Sim slot was simply too small to be fixed, and I was the proud owner of a $350 worthless phone.

And to date, this is what your company has provided me with – nothing. I would say thank you, but I don’t tend to thank people for trash.

The continued antipathy of your company towards potential customers is astounding. If I was a customer, I assure you I would have switched to another carrier by this point, and any and all consideration I’ve had for ever switching to T-Mobile in the future is dead. In fact, I now plan to go out of my way to urge people not to use your company, because I know how your company has treated me and I’d hate for that to happen to someone else.

No love,
[insert me giving the the finger here]

ETA: I’m sure you are all wondering where the video for the phone is now, well, I did what any good capitalist would do with a worthless piece of junk — I sold it for parts.

What a clusterf*ck. If there’s one thing this job has taught me, it’s this: Give people cash gifts.

(Thanks, CH!)
(Photo: Flyguy92586 )

Comments

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  1. Buran says:

    I’m shocked the buyer didn’t want it sent to Nigeria.

  2. nursetim says:

    At any point in time did anyone think that helping the OP would gain you another customer, since barring having the pnone unlocked you can’t use it anywhere else?

  3. henwy says:

    The entire story seems sort of baffling to me. I can understand why it couldn’t be returned after 14 days. Some stores have limits on their return policy. Whoever purchased the phone should have checked in advance just how long that was unless he/she was absolutely certain the gift would be wanted.

    What’s sort of strange is why, if the phone was damaged, it didn’t have a warranty. I can’t think of any phone which dosen’t have some sort of tech warranty. Was it simply a short one that expired because the OP didn’t find the defect in time?

  4. mcnerd85 says:

    Jesus, I fell asleep reading that. Does anyone ever think of the company’s view on anything? I know I am probably in the worst place in the world to point this out…but why should they go the extra mile for you, as you had pointed out…you aren’t their customer. The purchaser should have been well aware of the fourteen day return period when he purchased it. He signed something saying he did. Does it suck that the phone is defective and you cannot even sell it? Yeah, of course. Are you retarded for waiting until May to start doing anything with a phone received close to half a year ago? Oh, absolutely.

  5. Buran says:

    @nursetim: They probably figured someone else would. When EVERYONE does that, no help is ever offered, the customer tells many many others, and many more customers are lost.

    T-Mobile is worthless. Can’t do anything to help people who just want a new phone, refuse to abide by their own warranty, never got their 3G asses in gear, and now that they have (in a FEW places) it still doesn’t work for data.

  6. donnie5 says:

    @Buran: LOL

  7. thefro says:

    Maybe he could contact Danger or Sharp (the manufacturer of the phone). Maybe they would give more of a damn than T-mobile.

  8. Wow, T-Mobile is in the dog house today.

    At this point, the “brand new phone” is actually defective. So, actually, the 14-day return policy should no longer apply. The phone has been, if I understand correctly, defective since the time of purchase, it is simply that no on opened it until now.

    If I were her I really, really would not let this go. She didn’t break it, she and/or her gift giver should not have to pay for it. Bottom line.

  9. @generalhousewifery: Oh, oops. She sold off part of it. Too bad. I’m dumb.

  10. LJKelley says:

    Its quite a stupid gift to give (A locked phone) unless you know the person wants it or uses that network.

    I do have to agree with T-Mobile. Their policies are available on their website and in store. I use an unlocked AT&T Tilt on T-Mobile and I know that I don’t have warranty. The Costumer in question could have paid for a PAYG kit (which could have increased his eBay sell price) and probably had the phone enter Warranty.

    Again, there are things the Customer could have done but the phone was sold with 14 day return policy and NONE of the major carriers provide warranty unless you have service with them.

  11. IrisMR says:

    If the box was never opened, it obviously should be refunded. What a bunch of asswats.

  12. Even without the service. Does the equipment not have a manufacturer warranty. I think the slider sidekicks are Motorola.

  13. Jacquilynne says:

    While ‘give people cash gifts’ might be going a little too far, as a general rule, one should avoid gifts that will cost the recipient money, unless you’re damned sure they’re willing to pay for the ongoing outlay. Things like satellite radios, locked cell phones, and concert tickets for venues half way across the country only seem like a good idea. If it’s going to cost as much or more than your gift for the person to use it, it sucks.

  14. azntg says:

    T-Mobile is really going downhill. I used to hear more stories of these types from AT&T Wireless and Cingular from back in the days and much more pleasant stories from people back when it was Voicestream and just shortly after it became rebranded as T-Mobile.

    Welcome to the race to the bottom T-Mo!

  15. t325 says:

    @Buran: Uhhh…..3G DOES work for data. Check out howardforums.com, people are using it for data.

  16. Buran says:

    @donnie5: Sad thing, I was only half kidding…

  17. Buran says:

    @t325: But that’s not what their PR will tell you. If it works, you’re just lucky.

  18. t325 says:

    @Buran: No, their press release said 3G was for UMTS/HSDPA voice and data.

    [www.t-mobile.com]

  19. iEddie says:

    I used to use T-Mobile. I’m surprised that this happened – T-Mobile CS is usually pretty good. I only left them for AT&T because AT&T has UMTS/HSDPA in my area, and I’m waiting for the 3G iPhone. And for the visual voicemail and faster EDGE. :)

  20. winstonthorne says:

    Chase after Motorola for that. It’s not the carrier’s fault that the phone they sold was defective; it’s the OEM’s fault, and Motorola should be able to do something.

    The employees and management personnel at T-Mobile are incompetent losers for not suggesting this course of action from day one.

  21. Buran says:

    @t325: “in New York City” — and exactly what 3G phone can you buy from them that you can USE this fancy service with that only is available to a miniscule part of the US population?

  22. ohiomensch says:

    I have had t-mobile for about 5 years now. I have had problems with them but what I have found for the most part, is that their call in CSR’s are usually better than the face-to-face guys. Usually. But the truth is, is there any cell company out there that aren’t complete asswipes anymore. Seems to me that all of them suck.

  23. geckospots says:

    @winstonthorne: Agreed, if it was defective out of the box, Motorola is the one who needs to replace the phone.

    That doesn’t excuse T-Mobile for their incomprehensible lack of service, however.

  24. dariasofi says:

    I haven’t had problems with T-Mo. I get a corporate discount on a family plan and I make it a point to call every year to threaten leaving them due to high prices which gets me additional discounts or free/discounted phone upgrades.

    Giving a locked phone as a gift IS a dumb idea, though.

  25. t325 says:

    @Buran: They’re working on expanding 3G phones and coverage. They got screwed by the government because they took much longer than they should’ve to vacate the AWS spectrum.

  26. wesrubix says:

    @LJKelley: Right on. Don’t buy a gift that your recipient might not want service for.

    The person who wrote in is also confusing T-mobile with a phone manufacturer. T-mobile does not produce the Sidekick. Danger (recently acquired by MSFT) produces the Sidekick. T-mobile pays Danger, and then brands the phone.

    Moreover, no where in the letter does the writer state the purchase location of the Sidekick.

    The effort seems incomplete to me: why didn’t the writer attempt to return the sidekick to the original point of sale?

    While T-mobile’s response seems unfortunate, I don’t see it as wrong. While they should have been able to recommend contacting Danger some how to resolve the defective part, T-mobile isn’t going to bend its return policy because a buyer wasn’t cogniscent of it. At least a repair shop was recommended.

    Oh well.

  27. ninjatales says:

    Seems like the classic white elephant gift you get in Christmas from friends.

    I don’t think T-Mobile has any obligation to assist a non-customer.

    That being said, the Sidekick is a terrible phone. There are so many better and cheaper phones out there.

  28. thalia says:

    Dude, it’s been half a year since Christmas. No shit they weren’t going to take it back. But your friend was sort of thoughtless for not getting you an unlocked version of the phone…here, I got you this $350 phone! Just one catch! You have to sign a contract and make monthly payments to T-Mobile to use it!

  29. scarysnow says:

    I got a new phone from Verizon, which broke down, and the representative at the booth told me to find a new phone on Ebay.

    That is, before he told me how much he hated his previous customer and how “they’d get shot in Cincinnati” if they were ever to go there.

    Suffice it to say, haven’t been back to a Verizon booth since.

  30. jamar0303 says:

    Trivia- Moto only produces the Slide. All other Sidekicks are made by Sharp.

  31. Buran says:

    @t325: The inability of a company to offer a service that every single one of its competitors HAVE managed to offer is not the customers’ problem.

    I didn’t even look at T-Mobile when I was shopping for service over a year ago. I saw no 3G and I was gone. Now I’m locked into a competitor, and I have no plan to look at T-Mobile for its footdragging and, now, its crappy customer service.

    You don’t point fingers at anyone else over your lack of getting your act together. You solve the problem before it’s too late.

    They waited too long. They had options. They did nothing.

  32. rellog says:

    Since it is defective, snmall claims them. It’s too late for a charge back, but sue ‘em…

  33. ac0nsuemore says:

    always pays to understand the terms and conditions. Seems like they are leaving out some information at what was done at Christmas, did they USE the phone? did they buy it greater than 30 days before Christmas? if either was no, they could of returned it without a problem. Per [www.t-mobile.com]

  34. Sweetleader says:

    @rellog: You can’t sue when T-Mobile has literally doen nothing wrong. There is a 14 days Buyers Remorse on all phones(California is 30 days due to state laws). After that 14 days they have no obligation to replace it. To bad so sad. Don’t be a lazy ass and wait months to open it next time. Or at least read the terms when you purchase something.

  35. Ouze says:

    I’m thinking the gift giver may have known about the defect and given it to one of his/her not-so-loved friends. It would look so great while they were giggling around the corner.