T-Mobile Promises Not To Extend My Contract After Replacing Phone, Extends Contract

Philip’s wife’s phone wasn’t working very well. It would power-cycle and drain its own battery, and her texts get delayed. So he set out to get her a new phone, but this was a bigger challenge than he had expected. A replacement phone without extending the family’s contract apparently wasn’t an option. He managed to get a comparable new phone at no cost without extending his contract by calling the retention line to cancel, but this concession came with a price.

Philip writes:

I’m writing because of some spectacularly bad customer service that I received the other day. For months, my wife complained to T-Mobile that her cell phone wasn’t working properly. She would send texts that would be received by others weeks late. Her phone echoed. Recently, it began cycling off repeatedly, draining the battery.

On 1/21 we called to go through the process of either fixing the phone or getting a new one sent out. Considering she’d been issuing complaints about the phone’s operation for months prior to the end of its warranty period, we hoped T-Mobile would replace the phone with something without charge. A supervisor I spoke with agreed to send us a phone without charge. Before I agreed to the phone, I explicitly asked that our contract not be extended. She assured me that she wouldn’t extend the contract.

After getting off the phone, my wife researched the replacement phone and called back to request something that was more of an equivalent to the broken phone. The agent she spoke with said she would stop the processing on the first phone, would decide which phone would be an appropriate replacement, and would call us back the following evening. On 1/22, I called at 5:00 to ask about the return call. An agent explained that notes on the account said we’d be getting a call later in the evening. We were asked to be patient. At 7:00 I called again, and an agent confirmed that the notes said we’d be getting a call soon. At 9:00, I called again. Once more I was assured we’d get a return call. I expressed my skepticism, noting the late time of evening. Again, I was given assurance that I’d get the call.

At 9:30, I called one last time. The agent I spoke with wondered aloud why we were expecting a call considering we’d been told the return call would be made on 1/30. I asked her to review the notes on the account, and she was adamant that nothing else was written on the account. Someone retroactively altered the notes.

After that call, I logged onto T-Mobile’s website, where I found they’d extended my contract through 2015 (it was supposed to expire 8/13). I called again to cancel my account, and to switch to another carrier. The first person in retentions dropped my call. I called again. The second person in retentions put me on hold, she said, to “read my account notes.” Moments later, someone in technical assistance picked up the phone and asked if he could help me.

I hung up and got a third retentions agent, [D], who I asked to cancel my account. This person wanted to make a deal with me while I was insistent that he cancel the account. Asking me why I was angry, I instructed him to review the notes on my account. He responded with, “I see you have a technical problem.” I said, “No. My problem is that I’m trying to cancel my account, but you aren’t doing that.” He told me he’d cancel my account, and I insisted he put a supervisor on the phone. The supervisor reviewed the notes, and explained back to me precisely the circumstances that had frustrated the hell out of me. She asked, “What can we do to fix this?” I said, “I want a phone that is the equivalent to the one that broke. It’s all we asked for from the start. I also want the account to show that our account will expire on 8/13.” She agreed to do this, and so I calmed down.

This morning, I checked T-Mobile’s website to find out they were sending my wife an upgraded phone free of charge, and that [D] had scheduled her phone line to be shut off at the end of the billing cycle. I’m still banging my head on the wall.

If they really do shut off her phone or keep this plan on the books, we’ve found that T-Mobile is pretty receptive to executive e-mail carpet bombs. Launch one and her line just might be switched back on to use that shiny new phone.