Monday, July 20, 2009

Suck My Ass, T-Mobile

I've been having a terrible time with T-Mobile, in my many years as a customer with them. I have to look at that frankly, instead of using the rosy-hued filter I've applied, wanting to believe they're a good company.

My phone has been breaking down lately, but it's out of warranty. The warranty is for one year, but at minimum T-Mobile locks you into a contract for two years, so you get one year with a phone doing as least as much as it's supposed to do, and one year of a broken-assed phone or hassles with replacement and shelling out for a new phone for the next year. Or you can bail and pay an exorbitant fee for breaking your contract, even though they do not hold themselves responsible for providing a phone that will last the length of the contract.

It is amazing: T-Mobile phones do seem to break just after their warranty expires. This is my third T-Mobile phone to pull this stunt of timing. When I complained last time about the display screen flickering and dying, Customer Service merely said, "This is a known issue." When I reported that the sound went out and I couldn't hear any calls, they agreed and said, "Yup, that's a known issue." It's like if I could surprise them with a brand-new problem, then they would remedy the situation or make restitution to me. But because I had the hard luck of identifying a problem they know they have, a problem thousands of other paying customers have reported, they are not beholden to fix anything.

Imagine yourself going into a popular coffee shop and ordering an iced coffee. They make it and serve it to you, and you discover it tastes terrible. You realize that they have replaced the sugar with salt, but when you report it to the barista, they say, "Oh, that's a known issue. We've had a problem with high salt content in our sweetened drinks." And then the barista refuses to make you a salt-free drink unless you pay for a new drink (plus a replacement fee), and she refuses to refund you your money. She did not give you the drink you ordered, she knew the drink she gave you was wrong, but she made it and gave it to you anyway.

That's how T-Mobile runs its company.

Verizon is T-Mobile's best competitor. Their prices are about the same, and their coverage is about the same (T-Mobile's coverage is slightly better in Minnesota, but Verizon's is slightly better worldwide). But what makes me think that Verizon's business practices will be any better than T-Mobile's? I would even argue that all phone companies are crooked, and they write up horrifying contracts explicitly designed to screw the customer out of decent, equitable service and deprive them of legal recourse. Why would anyone agree to such a contract? Because you've got to have a phone. The demand is so irresistible that the suppliers feel no competitive sense to offer a decent product. You're going to buy no matter what, so why put so much energy into reasonable service and a reliable product?



Sure enough, I talked to a customer service representative and she was very cheerful but unable to help. She confirmed that the warranty had expired on this phone. If you have a T-Mobile phone, enter the warranty expiration date on an online calendar and set up a reminder to e-mail you ten days before it expires, and get a new phone.

She gave me instructions on how to move all my addresses onto my SIM card. That was necessary because she gave me instructions on how to clear the memory on my phone. This, in the hope that it would clear whatever's going wrong in its processing.

Before we left for Green Bay I fully charged my phone on Friday. Saturday it showed a full battery and I got a series of alerts warning me that my battery was empty and about to die--while showing me the "full battery" symbol. Eventually I was not able to back out of the ALERT screen at all, and on Sunday my phone died. Last night I plugged it in and this morning it was fully charged, and as of noon there was one bar of energy left in the battery symbol. Also, the phone was very hot to the touch. When I shut it off and turned it on again, I received a long string of error messages announcing that various EXE programs could not run due to indeterminate problems. I tried to shut it down again and it locked in one of the shut-down screens.

I showed this to a T-Mobile representative in an outlet in the IDS Tower. He shrugged and said it was an issue that had to be called in. I called it in just now, having researched the Nokia 2610 as an acceptable replacement. See it on the Web site there? It's uncomplex and free, so of course when I requested it the customer service representative said they no longer offer it. They advertise it on their Web site, but they don't offer it; she did offer me a Nokia 5610, pretty much the opposite of what I wanted, and I would receive the privilege of getting to pay $50 for it, as long as I signed up for another two-year contract.

T-Mobile will not replace my broken phone. Their "resolution" is that I buy a phone I don't want (since they don't offer the phone they advertise) and that I sign up for another two-year contract, to enjoy another two years of their exemplary service and cutting-edge technology.

Why isn't this illegal?

1 comment:

noma-neko said...

can you file a PSC, BBB, or FSC complaint? i would go that route or threaten to go that route and see what happens.

verizon...what a crock of assholes.

AVOID like the plague. i had a problem with my phone NEVER working in my apartment or in my car at various points around town and they sent me a new one, but then the same thing happened and i was paying for service i never used because they said it wasn't them it was me. HOW CAN MY PHONE NOT WORK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CITY!??

so i switched to sprint. i got a cheap phone for free and i was able to use it. and that phone never broke.