Susan and I have had T-mobile for as long as we’ve lived in Berkeley, which I think is a few years. We got Blackberries, and did that for a while, until we moved over to Nexus Ones.
Most of the time I am more concerned with the device than the service. It is because getting angry about a service is an exercise in futility. Cable (tv), electric and mobile service providers all pretty much suck. I don’t even know why they run ads (well, I do, it is because they are narcissistic), since most people don’t have the time or resources to research which sucks the least.
T-Mobile has had relatively decent service as far as connectivity goes. I don’t really get dropped calls (which would stick out in my mind, since I talk on the phone about once a month). More importantly, I stay connected to their mobile broadband network, and it doesn’t feel slow to me. Indeed, as my home’s net connection is wireless, and based in a different building, T-Mobile is often times better.
However, for as decent as the actual technical service was, it seemed T-Mobile did everything in their power to frustrate us. It took us months to get online payment working. Then, it took us half a year to have them stop sending us paper bills in the mail. When you have an account with this type of company, they annotate it each time a change is made. Ours is crazy. It takes a while for people at the stores to parse it. We’ve grown accustomed to 30 minute waits, at a minimum.
The craziest thing they did, prior to the latest thing, is let me add a device and service to our account, and then not let me change it the next week. I added the Galaxy Tab, and when I wanted to add data plan (I hadn’t needed one because I would tether it to the N1), they told me that I couldn’t, and that I shouldn’t have been able to add the device to the account at all.
Anyhow, each time we got everything fixed. Most recently all of our smart phones eventually died. It was a long process, but our last N1 finally just randomly starts, um, restarting. Such a sturdy little device, senile before its time. We got cheap phones and put our SIM cards in them and turned off our data plans. If we aren’t using it, no reason to spend that $30 a month. We were expecting our bill (family minutes + tablet data) to be around $100. We were somewhat surprised when it was $150.
We start the familiar process of scanning over the overly-complicated bill (what is the deal with that?) and found that there was a $50.60 charge for DATA SERVICES, on my line. Okay, that is odd. Why would there be data charges if we turned off data? I mean, it is obvious what happened, they turned off our data plan, but continued to charge me for data that my phone was using, stuff like e-mail syncing and whatnot. It shouldn’t have, of course, so we decided to go into the store and bring it up.
The first thing we told them was that we turned off the data plan, so there shouldn’t be a way to incur charges. If you have used a T-Mobile device before, you may have noticed that if you try to use data, like visiting a webpage, without a data plan, you will be taking to T-Mobile site and asked to log in. They have pre-paid data plans. When I brought that up, they told me that they tried to up-sale their data plans and that I had received a text message saying something about me just being charged if I used data. So, I may have gotten that. I wouldn’t know, I don’t use T-Mobile’s SMS, and my phone was broken.
I kept trying to explain this, that it was crazy to opt-in a customer who had just intentionally turned off their data plan. Smart phones have all kinds of apps and services running that sync in the background, it is ridiculous to think a person should have to dump their phone if they aren’t using it for data, less it rack up charges.
The rep kept trying to talk about my flip-phone. I told them I was talking about my Nexus One. They finally got around to saying it was my flip phone, its IMEI, which had racked up the charges. The flip phone, which I had used to make half a dozen calls, and otherwise completely ignored.
I was floored. This just got weirder.
I finally told them that I didn’t care anymore. They were to remove that charge, or we were leaving as customers. The rep (who has helped us at least half the times we go in, and is always as helpful as the call center person will allow em) communicated that to the cold, soulless robot on the phone. They said that there wasn’t anything they could do, the “didn’t have the resources” to remove the charge. They wanted to forward us to the “loyalty department”.
Instead, I had em hang up. I asked that e annotate on our account that no data at all is to be sent to my line. And I informed em that we were switching services.
Besides being one of the creepiest things I’ve heard of, why would I speak with a “loyalty department” rep, after they had just put me through all of that? Why would I support the notion that companies require customer loyalty, and not the other way around? T-Mobile had successfully driven me away.
But it gets better/worse/weirder!
Before leaving we found out how to further contest the charge. We were switching services, but we still wanted to get our money back. Ey mentioned we could see an itemized list of charges somewhere on the website.
Today Susan found them buried in the site. And there it is, listing all of the random data charges that my “dumb” (non-smart) flip phone had made. From the 11th to the 27th of November.
I bought my flip phone on December 6th.
At this point I am sure many people would feel like it was a moral victory. “Ha! Now they have to give back your money!”, they would say. Well, I am not so sure. I feel like we have barely scratched the surface of excuses T-Mobile will use to justify its creepy policies and actions.
At any rate, last night we came home and ordered two Nexus S’s from Sprint. I don’t think they are any better than T-Mobile, but my lifebar for dealing with mobile carrier bullshit has been refreshed. We get new phones, and I can text Susan all day, because we are in love and have a child together, and I can call 911 if said child is in danger. As long as they don’t actively sabotage that, I will probably put up with a lot.