Here’s why I will soon be switching from T Mobile to another cell phone service provider, any provider, after being with them since 1999.
I just listened to my wife cry, unable to continue speaking to the T Mobile sales rep, after spending an hour trying to get her phone replaced. We have both been loyal customers for seven years. For most of that time we were not under a contract but chose to stay with T Mobile anyway. At one point I set up a company plan that had 15 active lines. I have pumped thousands of dollars into T Mobile. Today, my wife’s phone, which has been having problems for a few months, finally quit. All I ask for our years of patronage and thousands of dollars is that they give my wife a replacement phone. It doesn’t matter which one, it could be the cheapest one they’ve got, the ones they give away when you sign up for service.
I’ve called up myself in times past and have been able to get a new phone for free. Sure, it wasn’t a great phone, but it worked. And I didn’t have to sign a new contract. They gave me the runaround, but when it got to the point of me saying “Look, if you don’t give me a free phone without signing a new contract I might as well go check out other providers to see what they’ll offer me,” well, then they gave me a free phone.
No such luck this time around. They’ve cracked down and even when my wife became stressed out and started crying it didn’t do any good. There I am telling them that I’ve been a loyal customer for seven years, we’ve been getting the runaround for the past hour, my wife’s crying, we got our call escalated to a supervisor, and they still wouldn’t give her a free phone without her having to sign a new contract for 12-24 months.
This is entirely different than the experience I had before. All I had to tell them was that I was going to look around and they gave me a free phone right away.
So why the change in policy? Maybe they were giving too many phone away? Maybe the amount of customers they lose vs. those who stay and sign up for a new contract is so small that it’s in their interests to never give out free phones without getting someone on contract. If that’s the case then I understand and appreciate that. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t want it to change and won’t encourage change, and how can I do that? First, I’ll switch to a different provider. Second, I’ll encourage others to switch when they don’t get their way. The more cell phone companies realize their customers are willing to switch providers at the drop of a hat, the more likely they are to improve services and give out freebies. But if customers stick around despite having very negative experiences, then whose fault is it if the negative experiences continue?
Lest anyone misunderstand, I am not necessarily encouraging you to not use T Mobile. I don’t really expect any other provider to be better. I am encouraging you to think about switching providers next time you have a bad experience, because it is only by switching around that we encourage the providers to get better. If any one truly starts to stand out in order to prevent customers from switching or to nab those customers who are having negative experiences elsewhere, all the other providers will improve their services to follow suit. However, if you’ve now decided you’ll never use T Mobile as a result of my experience I won’t discourage you in your choice.
This is what I love about capitalism. I’m not saying it’s absolutely the best system available, but it’s probably the best system we’re going to get, barring God himself coming down and rearranging things. If we were living in a 100% communist society right now we’d have one mobile provider (if we had one at all), complaining would be useless, and posting on a blog about it would probably be illegal. I’ll take capitalism with all its shortcomings over that system any day.