After languishing in fourth place among large U.S. mobile carriers for so long, T-Mobile is starting to feel the heat from its smaller rivals and the pressure to actually try to compete with the big boys. So it’s picking itself up by its bootstraps and saying, “Ya know what, America? Here’s an unlimited data plan.” We see what you’re doing here, T-Mobile.
T-Mobile’s MyTouch and MyTouch Q are nice little baby smartphones. Sure, they don’t have all of the features of their fancier cousins, and they run a relatively ancient version of the Android operating system, but they’re relatively cheap ($50) with a new contract and have enough features to entertain most people. They have a dirty secret, though. T-Mobile boasts that these phones have a 5-megapixel camera. They don’t. Even if they technically do.
How many times have you been visiting a city away from home and had this conversation with a local?: “I have the worst reception here!” “Oh, what do you have?” “[Here’s where you say which mobile carrier you use] and it’s getting a crap signal.” “I have [one that works awesome in this particular town], so that sucks for you.” It’s one of those things where some lucky locals find out their calls won’t be dropped and their mobile networks will actually connect, but once you leave your hometown, all bets are off. So which cities have the worst cell phone reception?
Anyone who has been through the ordeal of tying up the loose ends of a deceased loved one’s estate knows that phone companies can be huge pains in the butt, with endless, repeated requests for death certificates and CSRs constantly telling you they can’t speak to you because you’re not the account holder. And for some reason, T-Mobile thinks you should only have a few weeks to cancel this person’s account without having to incur an early termination fee.
Matt is a longtime T-Mobile customer. He’s been with them for about seven years, and never really had any problems. Then he spent the Fourth of July weekend at his second home in Michigan, and noticed that he had no phone reception. No bars. Nothing. Normally the T-Mobile phones would switch over and roam on the AT&T network while in the country. He learned that the companies’ roaming agreement in parts of the Midwest ended earlier this year, and that he wouldn’t have any coverage at his second home. Well, okay, that’s a valid reason to get out of his contract, isn’t it? Only if he could get T-Mobile to get back to him.
Last week, we told you about the woman in Texas who lost her house to a wildfire, and whose T-Mobile phone wouldn’t work when she relocated to a new town. At the time, T-Mobile was refusing to waive her early termination fee, instead suggesting that she just give the phone to a friend or relative for the duration of the contract. Perhaps it was the patriotic spirit of the holiday, but it looks like T-Mobile has had a change of heart.
Once upon a time, T-Mobile and the iPhone were friends. Even though AT&T had exclusive rights to the iPhone, T-Mobile was a significantly cheaper, friendlier, and less busy carrier that also used GSM. T-Mobile welcomed the owners of unlocked iPhones with open antennae. But that golden era is over, reader Brielle tells us. She’s been using iPhones on TMo for four years now, and is beginning to experience problems with her signal. It just so happens that her area has recently been upgraded for 4G service…right around the time her iPhone’s signal crapped out. They’re happy to sell her a new 4G Android phone, though.
For several years, Consumerist and our readers have offered tips and suggestions for getting refunds from wireless providers without resorting to violence. Apparently, there is a man in the UK who does not read Consumerist.
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.
UPDATE: After Consumerist put Art in touch with T-Mobile, it was discovered that there was still — in spite of what he’d originally been told — a small balance on his account. They came to an agreement where Art pays for the service that he should have been billed for when he closed his account, while T-Mobile waives all other remaining charges and fees. The company says it will also notify the credit bureaus to undo the damage from having his account sent to collections.
If I’ve learned anything from reading readers’ letters, it’s that I should never get divorced. Or married. Or die. All of these seemingly routine life changes confuse companies so badly that you’d think they had never happened before. But Jake, a longtime T-Mobile customer, has been cast into a special consumer hell after his divorce. His ex canceled the credit card he had used to set up automatic payments, and reversed his payments to the phone company. So they charge him the balance on his next bill, he pays it, and all is well, right? I mean, he’s a 7-year customer with no late payments. It’s not like he’s a credit risk or anything. Except….he is now. And he has to pay his T-Mobile bills in cash, in person, for the remainder of his contract.
Josh reached the data cap for his T-Mobile account, and his mobile Internet shut down entirely. Some customers might appreciate being unable to run up data overages, but Josh was annoyed. So he took on T-Mobile’s customer service bureaucracy and ultimately emerged victorious, with a 5GB data cap at a discounted price. Here’s how he did it.
Welcome to the T-Mobile Customer Service Labyrinth, where every turn brings you back to the center, where headset wearing minotaurs tell you that the exit is right in front of you but it’s not the exit, and where the company can admit in writing to making an error that costs you $250 but says it’s your fault.
In the telecommunications world, the transfer of spectrum is sort of like alimony for a relationship that didn’t quite work out. The Federal Communications Commission has approved just such a gift from AT&T to T-Mobile, which was a condition of their failed merger. No word on who got the house in Aspen.
Sara really loved her HTC G1 from T-Mobile, and bought the similar-ish Samsung Sidekick 4G as a replacement when its years of loyal service ended. The new phone has not been so loyal. It locks up, won’t respond to the touchscreen, and periodically wipes its memory card for no clear reason. Sure, she could back up the memory card content elsewhere, but the non-operational phone is a real problem. Now she’s on her third replacement. T-Mobile is happy to send her a replacement, but she doesn’t want a fifth phone that will inevitably have the same problems. Sara, welcome to smartphone replacement purgatory!
Lured by the iPhone and the potential of less crappy reception, Chris and his wife walked away from T-Mobile and ported their numbers to Verizon. T-Mobile tried to bill them for an entire month’s service when they had only used a few days’ worth. Chris couldn’t accept this, and called up customer service. They told him that the no prorated bills rule was part of the terms of service he signed when he joined T-Mo. Boo. Funny thing, though. He had saved that original decade-old sheet with the terms of service when he signed up, and they said no such thing.