I don’t normally write about my customer service experiences—ever, really—but I’m so furious I can hardly see straight, so here goes:
My mother’s home in Paige, Texas, burned to the ground during last year’s wildfires, and she and her now-husband lost much of what they had—pets, precious belongings, their sense of place.
After couch surfing for a bit, they found new digs 30 miles southwest of Paige in Red Rock, Texas. It wasn’t until after they settled in that my mother learned her T-Mobile phone doesn’t work in Red Rock.
I figured that she meant her service was just spotty, and suggested she keep it for when she visited my brother in Austin, just in case she got lost or the car broke down.
When she told me she was barely using the phone and that there was no point in paying $80 a month for an alarm clock, I drove to a T-Mobile store and asked for some help. The woman behind the counter checked my mother’s new address and confirmed that T-Mobile did not provide service to the area. She then said that she couldn’t cancel the contract in-store without charging me an early termination fee, but if I called T-Mobile, someone would be able to help me.
Today I called and asked for some help from T-Mobile, who I have been with for roughly seven years. What I got instead was a big middle finger.
The customer service representative I spoke to told me that T-Mobile is not at fault when customers *choose* to move outside T-Mobile’s service area. She suggested that we give my mother’s phone to another family member who lived someplace with service. If that didn’t suit me, we could downgrade the phone’s plan, and I could continue paying for my mother to use it as an alarm clock until June 2013. If that didn’t work, I could re-up my contract for my BlackBerry—which incidentally ends next month—for two more years, and T-Mobile would give me a one-month discount that I could then put toward the $200 early termination fee for mom’s phone.
In short, my options were:
-Give my mom’s phone to someone who already has one, and pay $986 over the next year
- Downgrade the plan for my mom’s phone and pay roughly $600 over the next year for her to use it as an alarm clock
- Pay $200 to end service to a phone that does not work
CREDO Mobile, the carrier my mother’s now-husband was with in Paige also doesn’t serve Red Rock. When he told them this, the company ended his contract on the spot with no early termination fees.
Now: I’m normally pretty passive when it comes to getting shafted by big companies, but today I got huffy. I told T-Mobile’s customer service rep that I’ve been with them since the end of 2005 and currently pay them roughly $180 a month (sometimes more for talking overages) for two phones—one that gets no service, and one that freezes constantly. When I followed that up by asking to speak to the customer service representative’s supervisor, she (the customer service rep) told me that her supervisor would say the same thing she had, that they were all working off the same script, and that no amount of ladder-climbing would get me a special deal. If I was hell-bent on complaining, though, she said I could write a letter on paper, put it in an envelope, and mail it to their customer service office.
So what happened? I told her to cancel mom’s phone and charge me the $200, and that they could expect to hear from me next month, when my contract for my BB expires.
And in case someone from T-Mobile reads this, let me help you with the math: Last year you got roughly $2,000 in service fees from me. This year, you could’ve cancelled my mom’s phone for free, and got roughly $1,200 in service fees from me.
Instead, you told me it was my mother’s fault for moving to an area with no T-Mobile service AFTER HER FUCKING HOUSE BURNED DOWN IN A FUCKING WILDFIRE, and charged me $200 to break her contract. As a result, I’m canceling all my services with you next month.
Enjoy the $200.
POSTSCRIPT: I’ve had several people respond to me on Twitter and Facebook to say that the customer service representative I spoke to lied. Both folks said that they had their service cancelled with little-to-no problem after they moved. So that’s lovely to know.