Sunday, September 14, 2008

T-Mobile, You Make Me Sad

I just sent a long and rambling e-mail to T-Mobile's customer support. I doubt I'll get a response, but we'll see.

I have been using a phone that I got in 2003. I had briefly switched to a Razr that a friend unlocked for me, but it stopped getting software updates and was getting buggy. I switched back and am generally happy with the old phone, but the call quality is not as good as I would like it to be and I am eligible for an upgrade, so I started looking for new phones.

I finally found one I liked and went to order it online. That's when I discovered that T-Mobile has instituted an $18 upgrade fee. This is not new news, but it was new to me. T-Mobile support says that the fee is for shipping and handling, which they advertise as free, but that first link indicated that it is really to offset the cost of subsidized phones for new customers.

I like to get myself all worked up over things like this. I am a firm believer that customer service is more important than saving a few bucks. I have no idea if T-Mobile is the best carrier, has the best network, or the cheapest prices. They did have very reasonable prices when I signed up, but that was in 2001 and might not be true anymore. I stayed with them because of their customer service. Now, I'm annoyed. Here's my complaint:

I have been a loyal T-Mobile customer since 2001. In 2005, I convinced my husband to switch to T-Mobile. I have stayed with T-Mobile, and recommended you to others, because of your customer service.

I haven't upgraded my phone in at least two years, and was surprised when I went to checkout and saw the $18 upgrade fee.

Your website says the fee is for the administrative costs of an upgrade - shipping and handling. But choosing the express shipping, which is not “free,” doesn’t eliminate the charge. Shipping UPS ground from Albuquerque, NM to Des Plaines, IL (where I live) is $10.03. Since I'm ordering online, and not on the phone with a person whose salary you have to pay, it is clear this is not a handling charge.

After some searching, I see that the fee was established in November, 2007, and is generally assumed to offset the cost of subsidized phones for new customers. This is poor business planning on your part. I am willing to sign up for a new, two-year contract to get a new phone. My contract costs should cover the cost of the phone over time and, given my history of staying with one phone for much longer than my contract time and rarely using even half of my plan minutes, I think you are getting a pretty good deal with me as a customer. I pay my bills on time, use less of your services than I pay for, and rarely ask for new phones.

Since my contract has expired, there is no reason for me not to look for another carrier, where I won't have to pay an extra fee for a new phone. This fee shows disrespect for your customer and erases all of the goodwill my previous experiences have created. It is easy to charge the same fees your competitors are charging, but, by joining them, you’ve eliminated what distinguished T-Mobile from the others in the first place. I hope someone over there comes to their senses and eliminates this fee. Until then, I’ll stick with my old phone and start shopping around for another network.
We'll see if I hear anything from them, but I doubt it.


Mavis said...

I like Sprint. I've had it ever since I got my cell phone in 2001, and I've never had any trouble with them. If ever they've given me grief, all I have to say is, "I've been a customer since 2001," and then they go all wonky giving you what you want, because they know you're valuable. Or if that doesn't work, you can say, "Listen, if you do this for me, I'll sign another 2-year contract right now and you can keep me as a customer." They totally dig on that.

tealeaf said...

hi rita! i found you through eastside bride, who sent me to alphamom, where you commented on leather shoes in the winter. i'm moving to chicago from LA in january and trying to figure out what kind of shoes to get. i'd like to get a pair of brown leather boots but don't want to get them ruined. i found one that is already waterproof. would that protect against the salt? and if i got non-waterproof ones, would all i need to do is water proof spray them? please help!