Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Hello T-Mobile Customer Support!

Welcome T-Mobile customer support representatives!

Since I haven't been able to resolve my customer service issue over the phone, and since the email form on the T-Mobile Web site doesn't accept long messages, it looks like the best thing for me to do is to publish my complaint on this blog. Hey, it worked for Jeff Jarvis!

I was misled by one of your customer service representatives, and as a result, am being billed for overage charges that I could have avoided. Both tier 1 and tier 2 customer support have failed to resolve the issue. As a longstanding customer, I am very disappointed that this issue could not be resolved after 40 minutes of discussion with customer support, and would like to see this resolved as quickly as possible.

Here is the sequence of events:

Beginning of the cycle: I called in to customer support to discuss the possibility that I would exceed the usage included in my plan (Nationwide 1500 w/ free nights and weekends). I told the representative that I projected that I would be right on the border of 2500 peak minutes of usage, and that I needed to know if I could change my plan twice during the month (the second time in case I needed to go to the 5000 minute plan). That representative told me that I should simply call in on the last day of the billing cycle, and that I could decide on which plan to use then.

April 23, 2007:
On the last day of my billing cycle, I saw that I was going to exceed the 2500 peak minute limit. Therefore, I called customer support and asked whether I needed to switch to the 5000 minute plan, or if I could be given additional bonus minutes to eliminate the overage charges. The representative told me that he would be happy to give me the bonus minutes. I asked him explicitly, "Please confirm that once these bonus minutes are applied to my account, I will not have to pay any overage charges for this billing cycle." The representative confirmed this.

May 1, 2007:
I receive my bill, which includes total charges of $569.58. It appears that I have mistakenly been assigned to the 2500 minute plan *without* free weekends. I call customer support and explain the situation. After some discussion, I'm told that I will be credited for the missing minutes, but that I will still be charged for 115 overage minutes. The representative explains that the bonus minutes I have been given can not be applied to overage minutes that have already been recorded, only for future overages. The representative then tells me that they will be crediting my account with $442.

At this point, I point out that it appears that she has made an error in my favor, since the amount she proposes to credit to my account would represent essentially no overage costs. After she checks her math, she reduces the credit to $399.

I point out that on April 23, I was assured by the representative I spoke with that I would not be paying any overage charges for that billing cycle. The representative tells me that the note associated with that call indicates that I had 115 overage minutes, and that they cannot provide any additional credits. I point out that it was economically irrational for me to stick with a 2500 minute plan and pay overage charges, when I could just as easily have switched to the slightly more expensive 5000 minute plan and actually paid less money. The representative tells me that she can't help further. I then ask her to escalate my call to a supervisor.

After I explain the situation to the supervisor, she essentially repeats the same arguments as the previous representative, and tells me that she can't help me. I point out that all of my actions are inconsistent with her scenario--why would a customer who was careful enough to call several times about his billing plan and in fact spoke with a customer service representative on the last day of the billing cycle then be foolish enough to select the wrong calling plan? And why would a customer who pointed out an error in his favor be dishonest enough to lie about what he had been told by representatives? That being the case, did it make any sense for T-Mobile to penalize a loyal and valuable customer because one of the company's representatives had misled him (however accidentally)?

Despite my arguments, she simply reiterates her previous arguments and tells me that she will not give me any additional credits, adding that my bonus minutes would apply to future overages. When I ask for further escalation, she tells me that I can either fax in a complaint, or send an email from the Web site.

When I go to the Web site to email my tale of woe, I discover that the email form has a length limit, which cut me off after only two or three paragraphs. This forces me to call customer service again to get the address for Customer Relations so that I can mail in my complaint.

It's at this point that I realize that I have the perfect solution. Yes, I'll mail in my complaint, but
I'll also post it to my blog, and email a link to the post. I will be very interested to see how this situation resolves itself!


Tim Taylor said...

I'll be interested to see your cost/benefit relationship develop with regards to effort and reward from the endeavor...

Chris said...

Sometimes, you have to take a stand. The world needs people of principle. Otherwise it would always be easier to look the other way.

E said...

I would suggest e-mailing this to The Consumerist (www.consumerist.com). They can usually help. Also, this post (http://tinyurl.com/2hao34) could be of help in escalating your complaint to executive customer care.


Bill K. said...

I had a very similiar experience with T-Mobile.
I was a long-time T-Mobile customer. A few months ago, I was about to run out of my minutes. I called T-mobile and asked the rep what I could do to get more minutes. I even offered to pay for some additional minutes.
The rep said that he would give me 500 addition minutes because I've been a good customer. I was happy and satisfied.
One month later, I got a big bill and called T-mobile. Their explanation was that they'd credit the 500 additional minutes to one of the 3 phones on my family plan -- i.e. I've 3 phones in my family plan, and the free minutes is only tied to one of the three phones. And it happened to be my wife's phone. And I used my phone to make most of the calls.
In the end, they reduced the charge amount, but I still had to pay for part of it. I called, went to their store, yelled, and still didn't get a satisfactory result.
It's ironic because the 500 free minutes is still sitting in my account because it associated with my wife's phone. They were trying to do me a favor, but end up frustrating me a great deal.
I want to thank you for having the courage to post this message. I live in Seattle -- I'm wondering if I should just walk into their office one day and ask to talk to someone in charge there!


Joe said...

Thanks I won't be using t-mobile. I am in the market too.

Phillip Johnston said...

I only recently acquired a phone, a BlackBerry to be specific, with a provider by the name of Telus. Like yourself, I have been having a great deal of problems with the company's level of customer support. Unfortunately, I am on a three-year contract.

I understand how you must feel.

bigsmooth said...

I'm not the smartest person in the world, but wouldn't it had been easier to have just changed your plan on the day you knew you were going to need more minutes? And why change your plan twice? Why not just change your plan to the max and deal with less headache?

This seems to happen often to people who try to out-think the room.

Chris said...

I've actually been pretty happy with T-Mobile's service as a whole. I used to be an AT&T customer, and boy was that a nightmare. They ended up charging me for several months worth of service, even after I cancelled, and it took almost a year before I got that money back. In comparison, the folks at T-Mobile were eminently reasonable.

As I mentioned in my post, I could project that I would be very close to the 2,500 minute boundary (as it turned out, I hit 2,615). After calling early in the month and finding out that I might not be able to change my plan twice in the same month, I decided to take the rep's recommendation that I wait until the last day of the cycle to select a plan. On that last day, I asked the rep I spoke with whether I should go for the 5,000 plan, or if they'd give me the bonus minutes at the 2,500 minute level to avoid paying overages.

I don't know about you, but I'd rather not pay an extra $30/month if I can help it. And I get a very specific promise that I wouldn't end up paying any overages.

Jonathan Conrad said...

I also have had lots of trouble with my own mobile provider. It happens to be Cingular. Almost every month, they make a mistake on my account and I have to call them. Actually I have to call, hold, and then speak with one of Cingular's representatives. I can fully understand how you must feel. Good luck.

Chris said...

Thank you, Consumerist. I quickly received a call from the executive office telling me that T-Mobile would credit my account the full amount of the spurious overage charge.

My one criticism is that the executive escalation representative tried hard to make me feel guilty about accepting the concession--if you're going to be paying anyways, why not do so graciously, and in a manner designed to elicit goodwill, rather than grudgingly at blogpoint?

Anonymous said...

Was there ever a resolution to the problem? Also, you stated someone from the Executive Offices contacted you promptly. Did they ever provide you with a number for customer relations?

Tiffany E. said...

I also find T-Mobile "customer service" quite off-putting. I'm a T-Mobile business customer h, and I purchased two phones from T-Mobile back in December of 2005 for myself and my husband. What should have been a simple request has turned into an epic.

My husband has a Motorola V3 VSW RAZR, is in Italy for 3 months, and needs to get local service for his work there ASAP.

When I signed up back in 2005, I asked about whether or not it was possible to get local service with this phone when traveling abroad (I used to have Sprint and their phones only work on Sprint). I was told that unlocking a phone with T-Mobile is no problem, and the only prerequisites were that I had been a customer in good standing for at least 90 days.

So, my husband left for Italy (almost two weeks ago at this point), and I called T-Mobile to get the unlock code. They told me that this takes a couple of days but that I should get a preliminary email of confirmation within 24 hours.

I didn't receive this email so I called the next day and the person whom I spoke with told me that it had only been 23.5 hours (I wish I were kidding) and that I should call back in an hour, which I did. When I called again, I spoke to a supervisor who let me know that he would escalate my request, and that I should hear back from the unlock department within a couple of hours. He also kindly offered me a $50 service credit for the inconvenience, which I appreciated, but did not request in any way.

I did not receive the promised email within a couple of hours, though. Instead, I got an email from the unlock department the next day, referencing an incorrect IMEI (they had the last number as a "0" instead of a "2"). I sent a couple of emails to customer service, but they responded back saying that this incorrect number would not affect anything (I still doubt this).

So, three days after that, I received an email saying that it was not possible to unlock my husband's phone, a RAZR V3. So, I called back to say, "Hey, guys. I bought this phone from you on the premise that I could unlock it. You've got to take responsibility for this, and fix this for me." Their response was that they cannot guarantee that they can unlock a phone, that they could put in another request to Motorola, (again the 24 hour email business), and nothing more. I told them to please do that. But, I also pointed out that this is not what I was told to me when I bought the phone, that they could not guarantee an unlock. And the supervisor that I spoke with even threw it up in my face that I had received a $50 service credit so that I must be "scheming" for something else! (Carrie Rep#137645) I asked to please speak with her manager and she told me that it would not be possible, but that she could have him call me. She said his name was Trevor (rep# 137690), and he never called me.

So Wednesday of this week, I received an email message with the unlock code for MY phone, not my husband's phone, yet another bungled request (it referenced my IMEI number, not his). But, my husband and I both have the V3 RAZR so I'm having a hard time believing that it is possible to unlock my phone but not unlock his. So, I called again, they promised to put in a request AGAIN, and that I would receive a preliminary email within 24 hours, AGAIN.

I did not receive this email on Thursday or today, so I called again this morning, where I was told that there was no record of my call on Wednesday, that they would put in another request to the unlock department and that is all they can do. I told the supervisor, Alison (rep#7254286) that this has gone on too long, isn't there something else that can be done, could I please speak to someone else, maybe her manager to escalate this? She responded that her manager was just going to tell me the same thing. She refused to give me any contact information for him and told me that he would call me (still hasn't). She did give me a fax number where I could send my request (1-817-353-6545). She also noted that they weren't going to do anything else for me because I had accepted the $50 service credit so that is where their obligation ends. Crazy. I was not asking for anything besides T-Mobile either unlocking my husband’s phone, or if that was impossible, providing him with an unlocked handset, since that is what we were promised.

Vicky said...

I wanted to fax this to T-Mobile customer relations yet no one can give me the correct fax number they are all invalid?
Dear T-Mobile Costumer Care Service,

I have been a costumer of yours for almost five years and have been in excellent standing. It has only been over the last few of months that I have encountered some very bad experience with costumer service. In the last four years I have never been treated as poorly as my last couple of interactions with customer service. I would like to bring to bring to your attention one situation that I feel needs to be addressed. I originally spoke with someone in costumer service in order to change my plan as my family situation had changed financially. I received a bill the following month to find that the plan had not been changed. I called to talk to costumer service in order to resolve this issue. I ended up speaking with three different individuals finding myself very frustrated at the interaction I was receiving. The last two individuals I spoke with on May 26, 2007 were rude and became very frustrated with me as I was trying to figure out what happened with my plan. The part that upsets me the most is that I spoke with the individuals about my situation and how important it was to have this phone. I have three children as home with disabilities and this phone is our life line in case of emergency. I was recently in accident myself and do not have the same income as before and needed to work out a plan that made sense. The two individual looked over my plan and my account over the last several months not once did they tell me I was already over my usage time. They continued to treat me poorly and wanted to end the conversation. I was last told that I could have a ten dollar discount on the plan I had for all the trouble I went through even though they new that I was already over my usage time. I would have gone back to my old plan if I realized this at the time. I feel this was done intentionally due to their frustration with me and rather have any further conversation with me they wanted to dismiss me by not brining to my attention that I had already gone over my usage time and possibly going over a new plan. I was told that the plan I had was the plan for me even though they were looking at the account and could clearly see a problem. I have a good record with T-Mobile and have never had a problem prior to this in the last four years with anyone among the T-Mobile staff. It has only been the last few experiences that bring me great disappointment in the companies’ costumer service. I would think that some compassion might have been shown on the part of costumer service due to me opening up about my own personal situation to best help me continuing being a costumer. I am now in a very difficult position with my family due to this next outrageous bill that I feel could have been prevented with the right costumer service. I am an excellent customer and feel I should have been treated with more consideration and compassion. I was given false information due to someone else’s frustration and I think this need to be addressed because this is not the way costumer service should be handled. If an individual is going to work with costumers they should know how to handle every situation to best help the costumer. It is costumer services job to have the best outcome for each individual they encounter not become frustrated at the situation no matter how complicated or time consuming it may be. I have never encounter an experience like this and find it very disappointing since it has directly affected my family in such a crucial way. I felt I made it very clear about how important this life line was to my family and being able to have this communication in case of emergencies. We happen to be on a fixed income due to our personal situation and the thought of this life line being interrupted due to someone one else’s frustration is very disturbing. I find it interesting that I have never had a problem with costumer service until I have encountered financial problems of my own. I hope this is resolved so that I have only good experiences in the future, if I still have an opportunity to fix this and continue service.

Chris said...


Try emailing rdotson@t-mobile.com. That's the president's office.

Anonymous said...

Similar situation:

Mistakes that were made to my account on the last billing cycle, resulting in a $288.00 bill.

I have been a value customer since November 2004. My relationship with T-Mobile has been a Rocky one, but I think it is worth it. During the past couple of years, since I have been with T-mobile I have made many changes to my account. Since I always get a one year contract I made changes as necessary and as often as needed.

In May of this year I closed one account and opened another. During this transaction the rep suggested that I go with the 3000 regional plan, since I never went over 3000 minutes. (This she could tell by viewing my history). I asked the Rep to add on several additional features, including extra night and weekend minutes and mobile to mobile minutes, since my entire family is also with T-mobile, to my 3000 minutes Regional Plan. Which I assumed was done. Since I have never gone over my 3000 anytime minute plan I never thought to check and make sure that these features were added.

I am a very cautious person, so I check my minutes daily. Not one time during the last cycle did I receive any indication that I was approaching my limit or going over my minutes. I check my minutes using #min# several times each and everyday and often more than once per day. I’ve used T-Mobile for years, and frequently use their #646# service to track my current usage, as I had been doing last month. It consistently reported that I was well under my limit for the month. I then received a bill that showed I was well over the limit, far beyond normal, which resulted in about $288 in overage charges. So you can understand my shock when I opened my bill. Had I received any indication that I was approaching my limit, I would have surely called a T-mobile Rep to change to a plan with more minutes.

I am aware that you get many complaints each and everyday. I am sure that you will look into this situation and treat it as fairly as possible. Had I not asked for mobile to mobile and the additional night and weekend minutes, then I would accept these charges. However since I am very cautious and I did ask for the additional features, I do not feel as though I should be responsible for these charges.

Anonymous said...

Buyer Beware:
I own a T-Mobile phone (2003 edition)... I need a new battery. Their website promises "We support EVERY T-Mobile phone produced...". After an hour on calls, I've been told that there is NO battery available for the phone, and that batteries are not part of the dictionary definition of 'support'. Too bad, buy a new phone. Their customer service personnel use lots of platitudes, but who cares?

Danny L. Stauffer, Jr. said...

My goodness... I thought you were talking about Sprint customer service for a minute there! I run into issues with them all the time.

Sennoi said...

There support really seems to be going down hill... I thought I was the only one experiencing these problems...

I'm having the same issues sending long messages through there webpage so...

Dear Tmobile,
I just got off the phone for the third time in an attempt to get more information about upgrades and possible promotions. I never expected to have some many issues, but my experience was so frustrating that if there alternative service providers with an equal reputation for customer care I wouldn't even think twice about switching.
After three consecutive attempts at calling I could not get through to the "customer loyalty" department no matter who I spoke with. Everyone did acknowledge that this department existed (some more pleasant than others), but I could not be transfered no matter how much I explained. Some thought it was more of a sales issue so I got transfered to them, but even on my last call where I insisted that it was not sales nor could the main department help me (since I had already spoken with them twice) it was no use.
Why is this department so hard to reach? My call was concerning a new phone because my current handset intermittently works and I wanted a backup until attempting to upgrade at the end of this month or next with a Blackberry. I understood the best deals were being offered through both sales and customer care, but I wanted to see what "customer loyalty" could offer having been with tmobile for almost two years. I explained this directly, but never could I get transfered. Even a prepaid handset looked like an option until signing a new contract.
What frustrates me about this whole situation was straight out being denied speaking to a department. It wasn't an argument over returns or discounts where I could see denial coming up on a regular basis (I have worked retail and understand that angel), but being denied support that is specifically asked for. I was not out to get a year of free service or a free $200 dollar phone, but wanted to speak to this specific department about a $20 dollar Nokia. "$10 off ", "$5 off", "nothing off, but we'll give you free text messages for a month because you're a long time customer," or "sorry,no discount" and hearing that out of "customer loyalty's" mouth would have satisfied this situation.
It was disheartening to experience so much frustration with a company that is considered an industry leader in regards to customer support.
Sennoi Roth

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