T-Mobile Customer Demands Refund For Two Years Of Too-Slow Data… And Gets It

When Sam was having problems with his T-Mobile smartphone, he did what he thought he was supposed to do: call up support. The agent on the phone couldn’t restore his phone’s Internet connectivity, but they did try to upsell him on some new services. He’d rather have the services he was already paying for working, thanks. When he took the phone to a retail store for help, he learned the real cause of his problems: he’d been wandering around for two years with an old 2G SIM in his 4G phone. He thought that he should have the extra cost of a 4G data plan refunded to him, and T-Mobile acquiesced… but only after he launched an executive e-mail carpet bomb.

His whole submission is quite long, but here’s the complaint letter that he sent to some T-Mobile executives.

I am a longtime T‐Mobile customer who is currently the owner of a T‐Mobile G2. I am on a grandfathered “unlimited” (i.e., throttled after 5 GB) data plan. I have had several Internet connectivity issues in the past; however, these have usually been resolved within a few days or hours, with no call necessary to T‐Mobile customer support.

My most recent issue with Internet connectivity began approximately 60 days ago, with periods of intermittent, extremely slow Internet connection speeds and lost connections. Over the last 3 weeks I had been unable to connect to the Internet at all, including access to Internet‐connected apps or any websites through the browser, although I was still able to receive email.

On 3/18/2012 I contacted T‐Mobile customer service and spoke to a representative in the technical support department who had me go through several steps, including clearing my cache, resetting my phone, attempting a mobile speed test at dslreports.com, etc.). None of these worked, I was unable to even complete the speed test due to lack of connectivity.

After approximately 40 minutes of troubleshooting, the phone rep told me that they “would have to have their engineers check on the lines” and that I should see if the service improves over the next week. I provided my address as requested, but was told that nobody would contact me and that I should call back in a week if I was still unable to connect.

The rep concluded the call by trying to up‐sell me on several services that I neither need nor want, then asked me if my problem was satisfactorily resolved. I thanked her for her help, but informed her that since there was no actual resolution to my issue that I did not really consider the issue resolved, and asked that my bill be credited for the data service that I was unable to receive. I was informed that she was unable to credit me at the time, as she wanted to be sure that my issue was completely resolved before issuing a credit so that “I received everything that was coming to me.” I asked that she note my account, and then the call was ended.

As being completely unable to use the data plan that I am paying for was unacceptable to me, I went to the T‐Mobile store located at [redacted] and told the gentleman there, R. my issue. After looking up my account, he told me that my 4g phone only had a 2g SIM card in it, and that when I had originally purchased the phone they should have installed a new SIM (they did not do this when I purchased my phone; they simply put the old SIM card in the new phone, telling me that I did not need a new SIM card). According to the rep at the T‐Mobile store, I have not ever been receiving the full benefit of the 4G phone that I purchased over 2 years ago, or the accompanying data plan, as I would have never been able to connect at the proper speed with the old SIM card.

R. put a new 4g sim card in my phone and I was suddenly able to connect to the Internet again, at a far faster speed than I was EVER able to previously get. This option was never even considered by the phone rep, and had I not received the excellent customer service from R. in the T‐Mobile store, my issue would have not ever been resolved.

Continuing the letter, Sam asked that T-Mobile give him an “appropriate” credit for his month without data and his two years without the data speed he was paying for. He also asked that R. in his local store be commended for his competence, and to educate technical support phone representatives not to upsell at inappropriate times.

While this is a longer letter than we normally recommend, it was effective: he heard back within two hours. Here was Big Pink’s solution:

I received a return email within two hours telling me that my issue has been escalated to the Customer Support Team, and that I would receive a response with 24 hours. This morning I was contacted by a Customer Support Team representative named [S], who had been assigned to resolve my issue.

After apologizing for the inconvenience, she let me know T‐Mobile’s proposed solution, which included forwarding my email to the technical support supervisor, providing feedback to the T‐Mobile store employee who helped me, along with his manager, and immediately crediting my account $180, a total that was calculated based upon 50% of the total charge for the data package that I have on my phone from each month that I have had it since my original purchase in November, 2010.

Not bad. Companies can be persuaded to do the right thing: it just takes some extra prodding sometimes.


Edit Your Comment

  1. outkastz says:

    g2 isn’t 2 years old.

    • kc2idf says:

      No, but 2G phones have been around, and SIM cards are designed to transfer from phone to phone. I see no reason why this guy couln’t have had a 2G SIM that he’s been using for several prior phones.

      • SerenityDan says:

        Yeah but he claimed he bought his current phone “over 2 years ago.” The G2 came out in October of 2010 which is 1.5 years not over 2.

  2. Cat says:

    TL, DR:

    Good work, Sam.

  3. Blueskylaw says:

    “couldn’t restore his phone’s Internet connectivity, but they did try to upsell him on some new services”

    Here, Sir, we have this fine automobile for sale. Of course, you would be buying it for the purpose of actually driving it, but since it only has three wheels and tires may I suggest an up-grade to our DE-LUXE model automobile which costs $25,000 (excluding associated fees and cost recovery charges) dollars more but comes with four DE-LUXE wheels and tires and actually does the job of transporting you from place to place.

  4. evilpete says:

    there are different types of sum cards for 2G / 3G / 4G???????

  5. EvanMax says:

    The article text is slightly misleading. T-Mobile does not charge any extra for a 4G data plan. Data is one set price, and peed is based on which device you have. It appears that T-Mobile offered him a credit for some portion of the data he had paid, since he wasn’t able to make full use of it, but had he had a 2G or 3G smart phone this whole time his monthly bills would have been the same.

  6. TuxMan says:

    A SIM card is for network authentication only. Has nothing to do with bandwidth the radio is capable of.

    • dwfmba says:


      • bassbeast says:

        Um, nope. Well, kinda. The whole point of network authentication is to activate the specific antenna on the specific network. So if the newer tech isn’t something the older sim card can authenticate as it didn’t exist when the sim was created, the phone is only going to allow connections to the network the sim can understand. It’s not a phone issue (which is why any replacement phone the OP might have had wouldn’t have made a difference).

    • ninjatoddler says:

      I personally know 2 people with their problem and after getting their sim replaced with a newer one, everything was good.

  7. dwfmba says:

    Really? a 2G sim in a 4G phone? I wasn’t aware that T-Mobile actually had a network that is actually 4G… http://gizmodo.com/5680755/the-dirty-secret-of-todays-4g-its-not-4g

    Having said that, good for this guy!

  8. mazterjedi says:

    funny…after reading this, I went to my local AT&T store and swapped out my 3G SIM for a shiny new 4G SIM and lo and behold…instant fast. who knew.

  9. Hank Hill says:

    I have been complaining about coverage and speeds ever since I received my 4G phone. T-mobile would tell me that it has to do with the locations I’m trying to use it, but it’s been practically every place. I rarely got the 4G icon to display, but usually got the 2G icon. I also have a 3G phone with the same issue. So today when I want to cancel my service they tell me that they finally see the reason why my connections are so intermittent. It’s because I have 2G sims in all my phones.

    They kept trying to wave a month’s fees, but in a sneaky manner. Lately I’ve been recording my own conversations with any support reps. This one was overly sneaky. She almost got me on a 24 month renewal. I left confused and now upset after reading this post.

    I’m going to call T-mobile back with ammo.