UPDATE: After Consumerist put Art in touch with T-Mobile, it was discovered that there was still — in spite of what he’d originally been told — a small balance on his account. They came to an agreement where Art pays for the service that he should have been billed for when he closed his account, while T-Mobile waives all other remaining charges and fees. The company says it will also notify the credit bureaus to undo the damage from having his account sent to collections.
When you close out your account with a wireless carrier and they tell you that your bill has been paid in full and that you are free to go about the rest of your life without owing the company another dollar, you might be relieved. But if you read Consumerist, you probably know that these happy endings are sometimes short-lived.
In February, Art and his wife decided to switch wireless carriers because their contract with T-Mobile had come and gone and Art’s wife got better reception with the new carrier.
Shortly after the switch, he called up T-Mobile just to make sure all loose ends had been taken care of and their account was free and clear.
“The customer service rep I talked to said that my account was closed and my balance was zero,” writes Art. “Even knowing I technically didn’t have to do this, I was trying to be responsible and make sure they didn’t come after me later.”
Following the call, Art says he never heard another peep from T-Mobile. That is, until a few days ago, when he received a letter alerting him to the fact that his supposedly closed T-Mobile account had been sent to collections.
“This was the first time I’ve heard anything from T-mobile about anything (beyond a couple of sales flyers),” he tells Consumerist. “Confused and a little pissed, I called their customer care line and was routed through a bunch of different departments only to end up talking to someone in Finance who verified that in fact there was money that I still owed on the account.”
Art wanted to get to the bottom of the matter and pay any money that may be owed to T-Mobile. But according to this supervisor:
* T-Mobile could no longer help him resolve the issue because the account had been sold to a collections agency;
*T-Mobile had allegedly made repeated attempts to contact Art by phone and mail (Art says no calls or mail were received);
*Art should just call the collections agency and “work out a plan”;
*That no one at T-Mobile would have ever told Art his balance was zero;
Art couldn’t even get T-Mobile to tell him how much he owed.
“The best I could get out of them was ‘two months plus possible early termination fees,’” he tells Consumerist. “When I pressed on about a specific amount, they told me to call the collections agency.”
He says that at the most, he’d only owe one month — which would be about $170 for the two lines — but, “The early termination fee thing is crap since we specifically waited until the contract was up.”
Making matters worse, Art says he and his wife are trying to buy a house, so they are worried what effect the collections action could have on their credit reports.
“If I truly owe them a payment, I have no problems paying,” he says. “My major issue is the credit ding caused by them never contacting me for months and then sending me directly to a collections agency.”
Art is in a bit of a pickle here. See, if he was 100% sure that he owed no money to T-Mobile he could challenge the collections agency to prove documentation showing he owes the debt. But as he admits it’s possible he owes some amount of money, his best bet is to keep trying T-Mobile.
We’ve reached out to T-Mobile, hoping someone there will be willing to look into Art’s problem and see if it can be resolved. Should the company choose to do so, we’ll update this post.