Gary’s mom uses a prepaid T-Mobile phone, but doesn’t use it a whole lot. She missed the deadline to re-up her account by three days, and is now stuck with a useless $50 refill card and a shut-off cell phone. After four fruitless attempts at calling regular customer service, Gary tracked down the executive customer service number, hoping to reach someone in the United States with some power. Instead, the person he reached was hostile and unhelpful. When Gary eventually reached that person’s boss to complain, the boss said that if he kept contacting the executive offices, they’d have him charged with harassment. All of this seems like a lot more trouble than turning some old lady’s phone back on.
Here are excerpts from the letter that he sent to some T-Mo executives explaining what happened, and wondering just what is going on here. The length of his original letter may be why the executives never responded: in cases like this where there are a lot of details to present, it’s good to start with a one-paragraph summary of what happened before starting the play-by-play of involved situations.
My mother is a loyal customer of T-mobile, phone, #[redacted]. She
attempted to refill minutes on a prepaid card on 5/8/11, only to
realize that her phone had been deactivated. Seeking an explanation,
she called the overseas customer service (877 778-2106) and was told,
belatedly, that she missed a deadline to refill minutes by 3 days.
The rule, I was told, stipulates that a prepaid customer must refill
minutes within 90 days after the minutes expire. But, as I later
learned, the rule is not printed on the prepaid minutes card; it is
listed only in the prepaid phone kit, which my mother received years
ago and never signed for.
Perplexed and frustrated, my mother asked for a supervisor and was
placed on hold – for 11 minutes. She then disconnected, called back
and again requested a supervisor, explaining her long wait. The
representative, through a poor connection, assured her he would oblige
and placed her on hold. After 5 minutes, your company abruptly
disconnected the call. I then called back, our fourth attempt, and
asked for the executive customer relations phone # in the U.S. The
representative said he couldn’t give me the information, or even
confirm his location.
Over the next four days, I perused the T-mobile website looking for
contact information. Unsuccessful, I accessed a consumer rights
website and some phone #s and names of T-mobile representatives at the
“office of the president” (877 290-6323). Another frustrated customer
of yours had provided the information.
On 5/12/11, I left voice mail messages for (forgive any misspellings):
[five representatives] Absent a response, I left second messages for the five reps
on the evening of 5/16/11, along with first messages for [two other representatives.]
The next day, I finally received a reply, from [the first person I called]. I asked,
firmly but politely, for the reason for the delay, He said, curtly,
that his office doesn’t take inbound calls and that “nobody knows who
you are.” The latter comment seemed odd, and ["M"] then
continually interrupted me when I tried to state my concern. I told
him I should be recording the call so I can document the poor service.
[M] then angrily demanded to know if I was recording the call
and said it would be illegal to do so. I initially brushed off his
bluster, but he continued to rant, even after I eventually assured him
I wasn’t recording the call.
Realizing he wouldn’t help me, I asked [M] for his direct
supervisor’s contact information – 3 times. He refused, and then, for
reasons known only to him, [M] disconnected the call – after 4
minutes and without ever hearing my concern.
Gary then contacted other people in the executive response office, finally obtaining the elusive identity of M’s supervisor.
I finally spoke on 5/31/11 to [the supervisor], who said he is the
highest-ranking customer service employee at T-mobile. I stated my
argument, which is twofold: the company did not give proper
notification for their policy. And even if they had, they should
reactivate my mother’s phone out of human decency, and good customer
relations. She missed the deadline by a mere 3 days, and only because
she was unable to refill minutes earlier. She’s a good customer and
the phone is an invaluable security measure in her life.
But [the supervisor] was unmoved and refused to give back my mother’s phone,
or offer any compromise. He insisted his company did nothing “wrong”
and that my mother should have known about the policy – even after he
admitted, belatedly, that only in the prepaid kit, received years ago
and without a customer’s signature, is the rule printed.
At the end of the call, I informed him that I would pursue this matter
until a fair and just resolution is reached. Then [the supervisor], without
any provocation, told me that if I continue to call the executive
office, he would call local authorities and press harassment charges.
It was a jolting and chilling threat – from a high-ranking executive
to an aggrieved customer – that demands immediate action.
We publish executive customer service numbers along with the recommendation that executive offices should be approached with your most polite and professional behavior. If that’s what Gary did, but if it was, the person he reached at Big Pink was shockingly rude, and executive customer service at T-Mobile isn’t much help at all.
We reached out to T-Mobile’s media relations people about Gary’s issue, but haven’t heard back yet.