Widgett Walls Loves, Then Hates T-Mobile

The extraordinarily named Widgett Walls, who may or may not be a post-modern pornographer, has managed to put an exact price tag on what his custom is worth to T-Mobile: fifty bucks.

The Widge has been a T-Mobile customer for seven years and — thanks to random chance in a godless universe — has somehow managed to receive more or less great customer service that entire time. Over that time, he’s spent thousands of dollars and signed up over and over again for new contracts. He’s what every company should want: an informed and loyal customer.

Where’s the viper in the dewy grass, eye-teeth dripping with ichor? After one of his friends got a better deal on a T-Mobile phone than he did, Widgett called to see if he couldn’t get it too. No dice: the deal had been over for a week.

And that was all it took for Widgett to suddenly realize exactly how little T-Mobile valued him. We say it a lot here: a company can do the right thing surprisingly easily. But when Widgett put the screws to T-Mobile, told them he would spend his next seven years worth of mobile phone bills at some other carrier, they still wouldn’t just give him the fifty bucks. And so he went to one.

It seems like such a simple cost benefits calculation, doesn’t it? Thousands of dollars in future revenue from a customer versus a one-off fifty dollar discount that they’d been giving everyone very recently anyway. How odd that companies like T-Mobile which only ever think in aggregate charts and graphs when it comes to customer service can never seem to get the right answer to what, at the end of the day, is a simple math problem.

What is T-Mobile Customer Loyalty Worth? Not Even $50. [OneTusk.com]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Danilo says:

    Hmm, I’m not sure I would let $50 sour my relationship with T-Mo in that situation. The “it’s just $50 argument” works both ways. What if he’s now stuck with a new carrier that’s truly nasty, in addition to stingy?

    Seven years is a long time for a company to not suck. I guess I’d always prefer the devil I know to the devil I don’t, barring any serious anal rape by my current carrier.

  2. Jen says:

    I had T-Mobile try to do the same thing to me a few years ago. I kept calling and emailing them about how stupid it was to value new subscribers more than long-term ones. Does 5 years mean nothing to you T-Mobile? Eventually they caved and gave me the deal.

  3. ADM says:

    With T-Mobile, I have to wonder how much of it comes down to the individual representative. I just got off the phone with them, and they definitely did right by me.

    I was trying to resolve a fairly complicated billing issue — they didn’t screw-up, I was just looking for a detailed explanation of what happened — and as an afterthought, signed up for there “400 text messages for $5” plan.

  4. ADM says:

    Oops. Sorry for the abrupt cut-off there…AJAX did me in when I hit the wrong button..

    To continue…

    …I signed up for their “400 text messages for $5” plan just now, and the CSR, who I had been a little curt with during the course of the call, VOLUNTEERED to backdate the plan to include the current billing cycle, even though I had already sent/received 80 messages. Since many of those 80 messages were multimedia, this represented much more than $5 of revenue to them.

    So, I might not be worth $50 to T-Mobile, but evidently I’m worth at least $11 or whatever the extra cost of those messages would have been.

    On top of that, the CSR was very patient while I explained my billing issue to him, and thoroughly questioned him about it. I initially went into the conversation thinking they had made a mistake, but after he gave me all the info I was seeking, I realized they had gotten it right.

    I’m not a big fan of any wireless company, but I do have to say that T-Mobile has done right by me.

  5. lilyofthevalley says:

    @ADM: phone deals come and go. if one deal is missed, there will be a better one down the road. if someone’s crabby because they missed one deal and quits the company, that’s their loss. tmobile will do stuff like backdate to clear overage on a current billing cycle. while one may miss a deal on a phone, the years of clearing overage and offering very cheap rate plans and features make up for it. also, the hands are tied when it comes to offering phones for prices. reps and supervisors cannot manipulate the price you paid for a phone. but wait a bit, you’ll get a good deal.