01 August 2005

Customer Service Autopsy

A few months ago, I got a letter from T-Mobile that said they were making upgrades to their text and voice messaging infrastructure. They said that the model of phone I carried (among a few others) would not be able to take advantage of the new features. I wasn't going to be cut off, but they said I should consider a new phone. OK, my handset was over 3 years old. Seems like a good time to upgrade.

I looked at the T-Mobile's website to see what they were offering. I liked the Motorola operating system, and thought it'd be smart to get something Bluetooth. I hang onto phones for a while, so I might as well go cutting edge. They had one (at the time) that fit my criteria; the Motorola A630. Trouble is, it's was too gimmicky for me. It's like carrying around an ASCII keyboard. I'm not a ringtone guy, or a camera guy. I'll throw a text out there, but I don't instant message, or any of that other teenage-girl stuff. When I called T-Mobile's 800 number to ask about other options, they said there was no hurry for me to change phones, because the text and voice messaging changes would come over a few months, and by then they'd have more phone choices.

Over the summer, T-Mobile added the unremarkable Motorola V330, which was much closer to what I would carry around. On their website, they wanted $169 for it (now $99), which seemed like a lot, and that was a new-service price. I was not 'new service,' so my price would be over $200. That bummed me out since I had been with them for 6 years, going back to VoiceStream, and Aerial before that.

Out of the blue (?) I get an e-mail at work from Cingular that says I can get good deals on phones and service since my employer has a business relationship with 'em. I went through most of the ordering process to find out what my cost would be. By now T-Mobile had dropped the A630, added the Motorola V3, allegedly the coolest phone on Earth if you care about such things.

On July 22nd, I called T-Mobile's 800 number, and spoke to Mary. I asked her about upgrading my phone to something Bluetooth. She said I could have the V330 for $221. The V3 was backordered, would be so for 2 weeks, and she didn't even have a price for me. "Hottest phone in the world," she told me. Like I care about that. Remember, T-Mobile is the entity encouraging this upgrade process. I asked why my cost on the V330 would be so much. She said my plan (300 minutes/$29) didn't qualify me for any equipment discount. Not wanting to play my nearly-unheard-of-tenure card, I literally asked her what was in it for me to remain with T-Mobile. She had no answer, but I had mine.

I immediately placed my order with Cingular, got 50% more minutes, with rollover, for the same monthly rate I had with T-Mobile, and a black V3 (the hottest phone in the world!) for $150. Once the phone arrived and I got my existing number ported over to Cingular, I called T-Mobile to give them the hook. Not surprisingly, a very polite and seemingly sincere guy named Mark pleaded with me to stay, offering me 50 more minutes a month(rah rah), and a V3 (amazingly now available) for $100. He said that as a 6-year customer, my business was greatly valued by T-Mobile. Know what? Tell it to Mary, who, last week, didn't give a shit about my 6 years on behalf of all of Deutsche Telecom.

I'm sometimes loyal to a fault. I've let personal relationships cloud my personal financial decisions, but that's very much on the wane. Life's too short and expensive for bad decisions and fiscal folly. I will not eat your phony focus group-tested tripe. I will not go to your lousy theater to be greeted by sullen, teenage employees and stale popcorn. I will not drive any of your rental car-grade snoozemobiles. If you don't have something to offer me that goes above and beyond the norm, how can you expect me to stick around or be interested?

I am diggin' the new phone.

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