T-Mobile is lagging behind the rest of its competition. It’s a distant #4 in the U.S. wireless market and even the third-place contender, Sprint, has a pretty robust prepaid customer base. So T-Mobile should be doing everything it can to retain customers; this apparently includes not waiving early termination fees for customers who have to move because their house burns down.
Over at his blog, Mike writes about the situation his mother now faces after losing her home to a wildfire in Texas.
Following the fire, his mom and her husband relocated to a different town about 30 miles away. Unfortunately, that relatively short distance was just enough to put her completely out of reach for T-Mobile service.
So Mike decided to see if he could help her out by talking to someone at the T-Mobile store about getting his mom out of the $80/month contract:
The woman behind the counter checked my mother’s new address and confirmed that T-Mobile did not provide service to the area. She then said that she couldn’t cancel the contract in-store without charging me an early termination fee, but if I called T-Mobile, someone would be able to help me.
Except that help was not offered when he did make that call on behalf of his mother.
“The customer service representative I spoke to told me that T-Mobile is not at fault when customers *choose* to move outside T-Mobile’s service area,” he writes. “She suggested that we give my mother’s phone to another family member who lived someplace with service. If that didn’t suit me, we could downgrade the phone’s plan, and I could continue paying for my mother to use it as an alarm clock until June 2013. If that didn’t work, I could re-up my contract for my BlackBerry—which incidentally ends next month—for two more years, and T-Mobile would give me a one-month discount that I could then put toward the $200 early termination fee for mom’s phone.”
Meanwhile, her husband’s wireless provider CREDO also did not have coverage in the area. But, unlike T-Mobile, immediately allowed him to cancel his contract without an ETF when it realized his situation.
“I’m not looking for freebies,” Mike tells Consumerist, explaining that he doesn’t understand why his mother isn’t receiving the same treatment other customers receive. “I’ve had several people tell me that they were able to end contracts when they moved out of a coverage area with no early termination fee. One of them said she had to fax proof of her son’s new address, and another person who saw the post said she and her husband were able to cancel over the phone when they moved to an area without T-Mobile coverage.”
In the end, Mike decided to just eat the ETF, but also wants T-Mobile to know that he will not be re-upping his contract when it comes up for renewal in the coming weeks.
So congratulations, T-Mobile, you made $200 for the ETF, but you have lost $1,200 year from Mike, who had been a customer for seven years before this incident.
This is how you end up in last place.