Mobile With a Capital T And That Spells Trouble

My T-Mobile horror story is actually related to our business account. I work for a relatively small telecom company (we don’t do wireless) and for about a year my job here was to dispute any errors in billing with our vendors (sad that that’s a full time job).

My boss needed an email-capable phone, and needed it here and functioning before she left for a business trip to New York.

How much you want to bet that didn’t exactly happen? Check your wager, after the jump…

Kyle writes:

    “I called T-Mobile a week ahead and ordered her a Motorola something-or-other, which arrived several days later, but the email functionality was not what she had hoped. For clarity’s sake let’s call her existing phone A and her phone number 1. The new phone B arrived carrying phone number 2. Since she didn’t like the phone, we called T-Mobile to order a Blackberry C, being assured it would arrive in time for the trip. It did not, of course, so we had her phone number 1 put into phone B so she could go on the trip with email capability. Phone number 2, a temporary factory number, should have then disappeared.

    While she was gone, Blackberry C arrived with phone number 3.

    When she returned, we then placed a call to T-mobile to have phone number 1 put into the Blackberry C, planning to then return phone B since we hadn’t wanted it anyway. After waiting the 24 hours or so it takes to get a number transferred, we placed 1 or 2 test calls from the Blackberry C, which worked, then placed test calls TO the phone number, which rang on phone B indicating the number had not been transferred as requested.

    Eventually the transfer took, so the standing was something like this:

    Phone number 1 is now in Blackberry C and is the permanent setup to this day

    Phone number 2 disappeared

    Phone number 3 disappeared

    Phone A old, probably recycled, who knows

    Phone B returned to T-Mobile

    Blackberry C in use.

    Our next T-Mobile bill was wrong, which, let’s face it, we kind of deserved for putting them through this. How wrong was the surprise.

    Phone number 1: normal monthly charges with the new data charge for email.

    Phone number 2: activation of service, pro-rated charges from that point to the date of the Blackberry activation (about 6 days) including prorated data charges for email, early termination of service, and the purchase price of phone B.

    Phone number 3: activation of service, monthly service from that point forward including monthly data charges, and the purchase price of the Blackberry.

    So on an ongoing basis, we had two active lines, had paid for two new phones, and an early termination fee. All we wanted was one new phone with the existing number, and if their Blackberry had arrived when they said it would, that’s all we would have had.

    It got better when I tried to explain all of this to a CSR. (I do realize how confusing this is, but we’re a telecom company…I know it can be done and understood…don’t get me started on telecom taxes and fees). The first few CSRs I talked to basically told me it’s all our fault for using Phone B, and the reason Phone Number 3 is still active is because we used it. If you remember, we only used it to see if the number transfer had worked. I did finally get someone to take phone line 3 off the bill, and to refund the purchase price of phone B when someone agreed we had returned it. This was three months later.

    On the next bill we see:

    Phone number 1: normal monthly charges plus data

    Phone number 2: refund for purchase price of phone B, refund for activation fee

    Phone number 3: monthly charges plus data prorated to some random date, early termination fee.

    So my argument now stands at two early termination fees and all of the monthly charges on phone number 3 that accumulated while they took their sweet time.

    After a couple more months of harassment, I did manage to get someone to realize we hadn’t intentionally “used” phone number 3, and got the early termination fee refunded. I also got someone to realize we hadn’t ever used phone number 2, and got that fee refunded. (I’m leaving out lots of “yes you will” “no we won’t” emails and heated arguments – it really just took calling back a thousand times until I reached the one guy who wasn’t an idiot).

    So, after 6 months of argument, my dispute was down to just 3 or so months of monthly charges on phone number 3 that were never refunded. Getting those months refunded is turning out to be a battle of wills, and I think I might win soon. It is now April, and the business trip that started the saga was last May. I smell victory any day now.

    Now, I’m not silly enough to not take blame for the craziness of the situation; I recognize it’s unusually complicated, but getting a rep to sit down and say “wait, the customer really only wanted one line in one phone, and at no point does it seem they intentionally tried to rip us off, and since we have numerous lines on this account with them, perhaps we could go the extra mile and make this easy for the sake of customer service” shouldn’t be this hard.

    Thanks for letting me vent.”


Edit Your Comment

  1. DeeJayQueue says:

    I’m a TMobile customer.
    You can buy phones from them, just the phones, no sim card. You get the new phone, put your old sim card in it, and blammo you get your old number, contacts, etc in the new phone.
    Sounds like either you made a mistake ordering the phones with a new line of service, hence them coming with a new sim card and #, or they made a mistake in sending them to you that way.
    In any case, the whole situation should have been as easy as switching out the little sim cards in the phones, you never had to call TMobile to move your number in the first place.

  2. matto says:

    I agree- sounds like a whole lot of trouble because you were too dense to just swap sim cards. Not feeling a lot of sympathy for someone who works for a ‘telecom’ company yet can’t grasp this simple tech.

  3. Ryan says:

    So what cell service doesn’t suck? Sucks the least?

  4. Jen says:

    I’ve used T-Mobile for years and all I’ve ever had to do is swap out a SIM card when I get a new phone. Also why not just go down to the store and pick up the model you want or try out the model you’re not sure about?

    I can certainly relate to T-Mobile billing horror stories or their policies favoring new customers over existing customers, but I’m with DeeJay and matto on this story sounding like more the customer’s fault than T-Mobile’s fault.

  5. Lars says:

    Emailing from a phone is just dumb. I seriously doubt that anybody needs to be totally plugged in, except to show off in front of other business twits.

  6. non-meat-stick says:

    anyone who orders a new phone over the phone needs to head to the store when they call back to get another new phone over the phone.

    How could you buy a phone without taking it for a test drive?

  7. I’m with Lars on this one. I’m sure your manager would have “just died” without email functionality on a cell phone…New York is not exactly the boonies as far as internet connectivity is concerned.

  8. RaginCajun says:

    Look, maybe Kyle and his boss might not have the great luck to be as technologically savvy as the rest of you, but it still shouldn’t take almost a year to get the damn refunds set straight. The name of the site is The Consumerist, not “The Consumers Who Have It All Figured Out Well in Advance.” After all, it’s not like this is a matter of the consumer placing the wrong order in the first place and then demanding a refund (or threatening the company with blog humiliation). This was a case of the company charging all sorts of service fees for services never used.

  9. Jillsy says:

    And give them a break on wanting an email-capable phone, too. It’s a lot lighter than carrying your laptop around everywhere you go, and easier than trying to find an open wireless network when you need it. It’s certainly not “dumb” or showoffy to keep in touch with your employees & clients while you’re out of town.