I live in NYC, but last January I began to spend weekends in rural Connecticut, where I had no T-Mobile service. It was then that I crunched the numbers in my T-Mobile bill and discovered I was paying 1/3 more per billing cycle for service in Connecticut (When accounting for the fact that I was paying for a service that was not available to me).
T-Mobile offered to ship me a new phone as part of my contract upgrade. The phone failed to ever show up. Understandably, at this point I began considering a switching to Verizon. I had friends that had service with them in my areas so I knew this was the way to go. Switching phone companies is always a big decision for consumers, because of 2 year contract terms. Unfortunately, I had just renewed my contract with T-Mobile. Thus, I would have to pay a termination fee. I again crunched the numbers and the math worked out in my favor. I decided to switch.
March 28th, 2012 at 11:59 am
Big Day!! I’m going in to the Apple Store and purchasing a iPhone and plan through Verizon. With a single swipe of my credit card I am reassured I am finally going to have successful service and a great phone to boot. I walk out of the store and with a simple call from my new phone I cancel 2 of the 3 phones on my T-Mobile plan. (The third line is a friend and I wanted him to decide how to handle it.)
April 16th 2012 at 12:48pm
I receive a text from my friend,”hey there. tried to change t-mobile plan today but you still the # on & they won’t allow me to do anything. you must call them @ 1-877-453-1304, cancel your # AND request/authorize a ‘change of responsibility’ on the acct. can you pls do this today? it’s the end of the billing cycle & i don’t wanna deal with a pro-rated bill. thx…”
The T-Mobile reps I spoke to 15 days ago didn’t mention this being a problem, so I called T-Mobile with my friend on conference. 34 minutes later, we were able to terminate the group plan, and my friend was transferring to a new T-Mobile contract. Sounds Simple enough… It is finally done. The rep “Dan” tells me I can expect the final bill soon.
May 16th, 2012
I already paid service bill for March/April service, so all that needed to be done is pay the final bill which consists of termination fees. A final bill from T-Mobile of $430 for termination fees arrived in the mail. Good, but in analysing the bill, I see that there are only two phones lines represented and there is no indication that the plan was in-fact cancelled. I call T-Mobile to confirm the plan is cancelled and the third line has been transferred. “Cindy” tells me, it was a mistake on their end. T-Mobile didn’t cancel the plan and was continuing to charge for service on two of the lines. (I have a way of indicating to customer reps when a corporation they represent is doing something wrong…) Cindy tells me to tear up and throw away the bill I am holding. (While I enjoy the sentiment, I will keep it for my records.) She indicates that she has fixed all the errors and is sending me a new “final bill”. (“final bill” is in quotes as calamity ensues.)
May 23th, 2012
The bill I was waiting for was supposed to reflect three lines with a final bill of $430. I did receive a “final bill” that day. Imagine my surprise to find the total to be inflated by 242%. For those without a calculator that’s $1040.72! Remember, 8 days ago it was $430.
Now thoroughly perplexed, I call T-Mobile to discuss the inaccurate bill. I end up calling and being put on hold and consecutively hung upon 5 times! The sixth call leads to a nice woman “Denise”. She tells me what is included in $1040. Some items were obviously BS. There is insurance on one of my phones, and that is something I would never do. Other items were clearly already paid for previously. She says a massive “credit” of some $600, will be issued, and a new corrected bill for $430 will sent. Denise apologies endlessly. I ask for an additional $35 to compensate for for my time, which is granted.
July 25th, 2012 at 12:30pm
The new “final bill” arrives a month later, for $612.00. What a nice round number?! A wrong number, but I note the $389.81 + $38.91 credit! (How does this happen?). I spend forty minutes on the phone with “David” at T-Mobile. He reassures me there are errors in the billing and he is going to fix ‘em and send me a new bill. I don’t even know what the total is supposed to be anymore. $430 is but a distant memory. I ask for a $35 dollar credit and I get it. You have to admit this has far surpassed ‘ridiculous’. He tells me with some pride that my new final amount due is $347. Yea! Ok, just send me the final bill and I will pay it. David says he will send me an itemized bill.
There is a moment of extreme darkness, just before it goes completely black…
August 15th, 2012 at 9:00am
It’s a bright and sunny Wednesday morning. I sleep with my phone under my pillow (weird I know). I usually don’t get phone calls this early but this day was different. As you might expect the phone rings.
A human comes on and asks, ”Is Fritz Washabaugh available?”
I pause for a second. Still groggy from just waking up.
“This is,” I say.
“I am calling on behalf of Diversified Consultants, Inc. You have been sent to collections for none payment of a balance with T-Mobile in the amount of $425.28. Will you be paying with Credit Card or Check today?”
Caught off guard, I begin to explain to him the situation with T-Mobile to him, at which point he hangs up on me. I immediately call T-Mobile and get “Denise” (a different Denise). She is so sweet and nice. Admittedly, I am a little upset. She seems undeterred by my grumpiness. She says she “will submit an OCA form to have the bill taken out of collections, and have a credit issued.” Denise says she will call me (by Monday) when this is confirmed. (Whew, that was a close one.)
The next day I get a call from Kim from T-Mobile collections regarding the OCA request. She insists I am in collections for non-payment and asks how I will be paying for $425.28. (They say it nonchalantly, like I’m buying a sweater at Target or something.) She tells me I should have paid what was rightfully owed within the 90 day window (starting in April). (At this time I am holding THREE “final bills” for $430, $1040, and $612 respectively.) I indicate that it has never been clear what I owe. I am waiting for the final bill to pay, I should be shown in writing what I owe if I am asked to pay. The woman insists I should have paid what was owed, the account will not be taken out of collections and the $70 collections fee will not be waived.
I end up paying the bill for $425.28 and I am fine with that. ($4 under the initial bill.) But think of how much time and effort I put into this. What worries me is that “screw-ups” like this are intentional. T-Mobile, and I fear many other large corporations, aim their marketing at low-income Americans who don’t have the time or the know-how to fight a corporation. They send inflated bills–inflated by 242% in my case–and these intimidated and defenseless customers pay. After my experience with T-Mobile, I feel strongly that there should be a congressional inquiry into such fraudulent practices.
In the meantime, I have a new phone and a new phone company, both of which–so far–I am happy with.