Monthly Archives: October 2012

The NeverEnding Story – Why T-Mobile is Horrible

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while. The reason it hasn’t happened up to now is that it’s going to be fairly long and I get angry when I think about the whole ordeal. Anyway, without further ado, here we go.

Backstory

I had been a T-Mobile customer since around 2004 and was very happy with the coverage and service in Columbus, OH. Even though they couldn’t match Verizon’s coverage, the cheaper price for monthly service more than made up for it. I had two lines on my account (mine and my finance’s). In the winter/spring of 2012, I wanted a new phone. I loved my Nexus One, but the time was right to upgrade to the Galaxy S II. So my options were to buy the phone at full price or sign a new contract and get the phone subsidized. Another issue to consider would be that my fiance’ would be moving to West Virginia for a year in the summer so if I was going to renew my contract, I had to make sure the phone and data would work in both places. A call to T-Mobile and a look at their coverage map (See Below) showed that they have a ‘Service Partner’ so we’d be covered. The rep on the phone also confirmed this. At this point, I pulled the trigger and re-upped with T-Mo. All was good.

West Virginia or Bust

The move to West Virginia happened in June. All was good with the cell phone service for the first few days (other than no 4G)…. then out of the blue, I got a text message from T-Mobile alerting me that I had used up 40 MB of my 50 MB roaming cap and my data would be shut off for the month once I hit the 50MB threshold…. I found this very perplexing since I was on an unlimited plan and had been assured that all was good from T-Mobile.

When I returned to Columbus, I called T-Mobile who let me know that West Virginia was in fact roaming, and both phones would be frozen out at 50MB of data. At this point, I wasn’t happy, but it was what it was. I spoke to the rep (Jennifer at #611) and requested to purchase additional roaming data. This is where it gets weird. T-Mobile didn’t want my money. They said the data was capped at 50MB and I was stuck. My only option was to email contract_review@T-Mobile.com and maybe they would let me out of the contract.

You can imagine how frustrating this was. My finance’ was in a new town where she didn’t know anyone, starting a new job and relied on data for everything from directions to email. Suffice to say, she wasn’t happy.

On July 8th, I sent the following email to not only contractreview@t-mobile.com, but I also did a search for any and all t-mobile executive email address. After being a long time reader of consumerist (consumerist.com), this was the perfect opportunity for an Executive Email Carpet Bomb (EECB).

Email #1 – July 8

To:  corporate.responsibility@t-mobile.net, review@tmobile.com, glenn.zaccara@t-mobile.com, Mercedes.Avelar@t-mobile.com, John.Clelland@t-mobile.com, John.Carney@t-mobile.com, Casey.Otley@t-mobile.com, Cole.Brodman@t-mobile.com, ExecutiveResponse@t-mobile.com,
robert.dotson@t-mobile.com, Denny.post@t-mobile.com, John.Birrer@t-mobile.com, Larry.myers@t-mobile.com, Kelly.Spindle@t-mobile.com, Salaman.Toya@t-mobile.com, Jennifer.Bachus@t-mobile.com

Body:  Dear Executive Response Office,

Account Number: [redacted]

I renewed my contract with T-Mobile on April 26.  I moved to Charleston, West Virginia at the end of June and was incredibly dismayed to discover that T-Mobile does not have full data service in Charleston.  I have a Samsung Galaxy SII and not having data is unacceptable.  Before I renewed my contract I confirmed that coverage was available in Charleston by using the tmobile.com coverage map and speaking with a T-Mobile in-store representative in Columbus, OH and a representative at your 800 number.  All three sources represented that I would be able to use my phone and use the data coverage included in my plan (2GB per month unlimited plan).

However, after less than a week of moving to Charleston, I was shocked to receive a text message on June 26 stating that I was within 10 megabytes of having my data entirely cut off and the subsequent message later in the day saying that I would be without data going until the bill resets for the next month. On June 26, I immediately called 611 and spoke to “Jennifer” and then to “Scott” (among others) who both stated I would not be able to purchase additional data, nor were they able to let us out of our contract without paying an Early Termination Fee (ETF).

I was fraudulently and intentionally mislead that I would be able to use all the features of my phone and realize the value of my data plan.  T-Mobile’s fraudulent misstatements about my data plan and its coverage are unacceptable and actionable.  I am hereby demanding to be immediately released from my contract without paying an ETF.  You have until July 15, 2012 to respond to this demand.  Your failure to reply to me on this issue by the deadline will be deemed to be an acceptance of my demand and I will move forward with cancelling my contract.  I look forward to discussing the immediate resolution of this issue.

Sincerely,

Mark Roehl
West Virginia Address – [redacted]
Phone Number – [redacted]

July 9, 2012 – First Communication from T-Mo

Within 24 hours of sending my email, I received a call from Jeff Marino (sp?) from the executive response department acknowledging receipt of my email and letting me know that he was going to look in to everything and get back to me. I felt awesome, I thought the first email was leading to results.

July 11, 2012 – Second Communication from T-Mo

I received a phone call in the late afternoon from Jeff Marino (sp?) letting me know that T-Mobile would allow me out of the contract without an ETC if I can provide proof of residency in WV. I was given an email and a fax number to send to. This was awesome news. T-M0bile had stepped up and done the right thing, all I had to do was show proof of residency in WV. This was a minor issue because only my name was on the T-Mobile contract and only my fianace’ was on the lease agreement. The quick and easiest solution, would be to simply add my name to lease.

The next day we called the apartment complex and initiated having me added. This took a few days because they had to run the standard checks and whatnot to make sure I wasn’t a creeper (I wasn’t!!!).

The Lease – July 18

Anyway, by July 18th, I had a copy of the lease agreement with my name on it. After a quick conversion to .pdf, I fired off the following email to T-Mo.

To: ExecutiveResponse@t-mobile.com

Body: Hi Jeff,

Please see the attached lease agreement thus proving proof of residency in West Virginia. The apartment complex is:

Apartment Address & Leasing Phone Number [Redacted]

website url: [Redacted]

Thanks,

Mark Roehl
Phone Number [Redacted]
Attached Lease Agreement: [Redacted]
The Waiting Game – July 25
After waiting a full week without hearing anything, I sent the below follow-up on July 25th.
To: ExecutiveResponse@t-mobile.com
Body: Dear Executive Response Office,

I want to follow-up on my original letter (pasted below). I spoke on the phone with Jeff Marino (sp?) and he mentioned if I proved residency in West Virginia, I would be allowed out of my contract without an early termination fee. This information (A copy of the lease agreement and contact information for the apartment complex) was emailed on July 18th and I haven’t heard anything since.

Any update is appreciated.
Thank you,
Mark Roehl
Phone Number: [Redacted]
Attached Lease Agreement: [Redacted]
More Waiting – August 1
On August 1, I sent a fax to both 505-998-3796 (this is the number give by Jeff Marino (sp?)) and 813-353-6545 (found online) with a copy of the lease agreement and the following message on the cover sheet:
Dear Executive Response Office,
I want to follow-up on my previous emails. I spoke on the phone with Jeff Marino (sp?) and he mentioned if I proved residency in West Virginia, I would be allowed out of my contract without an early termination fee. This information (A copy of the lease agreement and contract information for the apartment complex) was emailed on July 18th and July 25th and I haven’t heard anything since.
Any update is appreciated. I am attaching the cover letter of my lease in West Virginia.
Thank you,
Mark Roehl
phone number: [redacted]
August 2 – Email to Consumerist
After two emails and two faxes, I was running out of ways to get in touch with T-Mo. The only thing that directly resulted in communication was when I emailed God and Country. On August 2, I sent the following email to consumerist hoping that they could help:
To: Tips@consumerist.com
Body: Hi Consumerist,I’m in the same boat as Matt from your T-Mobile story today. I
recently moved to West Virginia for a one year job opportunity, where
there are no T-Mobile towers and I’m allowed 50mb a month of roaming
data before all data is shut off. My chain of events is detailed
below:

Early July – Called T-Mobile at 611 to try to buy additional roaming
data. Was told by multiple levels of escalation that there was nothing
I could do other than send an email to contractreview@t-mobile.com
(spoke to Jennifer, Jeff and others).

July 8 – Fired off an EECB

July 9 – Received a phone call from Jeff Marino (sp?) at T-Mobile
Executive Response dept. acknowledging receipt of the email.

July 11 – Received a phone call from Jeff saying T-Mobile would allow
me out of the contract without an ETC if I can provide proof of
residency in WV. I was given an email and a fax number to send to.

July 18 – Emailed T-Mobile with copy of lease agreement and apartment
contact information – No Response

July 25 – Emailed T-Mobile again with copy of lease to follow-up – No Response

August 1 – Faxed lease agreement to T-Mobile – No Response

At this point, I’m not sure how to proceed as I’ve tried contacting
T-Mobile on different channels without success. Anything Consumerist
can do to help is greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Mark Roehl
T-Mobile Account – [redacted]
T-Mobile Phone – [redacted]

Consumerist emailed back:
“If all goes according to plan, you should be hearing from T-Mobile soon.”
August 8 – EECB #2 – 3:12 pm
After not hearing anything from T-Mobile, I was completely out of options. The only thing that had worked was when I emailed God and Country. At this point, I sent everyone on the original distribution list (see above) the following email:
Body – Dear T-Mobile,As detailed below, I have tried to work to resolve the issue of your lack of data coverage in my new home state without resorting other methods. On July 11th I was told if I provided proof of residency in West Virginia (Where T-Mobile does not offer data), I would be allowed out of my contract without an early termination fee. I have provided this information in the form of my lease agreement on 3 separate occasions. I have yet to receive a response.  Because of your inaction and inattention to this matter I am forced to terminate my contract in reliance on your previous statements that I can terminate my contract without penalty upon providing proof of residency.

This email thereby constitutes notice that unless I hear from you by Friday, August 10 at 5pm EDT, I will begin the process of porting my number to another carrier and canceling my account.  Any attempt by T-Mobile to assess a termination fee would be in bad faith and in violation or your previous statements and my reliance thereon.

Thank you,

Mark Roehl

I also included the log of all the times I attempted to contact them.
At this time, I also took autopay off the account.
8-8-12 – T-Mobile Contact & 2 More Email Attempts
Within hours of sending my email, I received a call from Jason at the Executive Response team. He wouldn’t give his last name or direct email, but told me to resend the lease agreement or to go into a T-Mo store and have them fax it in. At this point, I had no reason to believe that emailing would work but I sent it anyway from multiple email addresses (Gmail and Yahoo). I requested a follow-up regardless if he received the email or not.
8-9-12 Follow-Up
Jason called to follow-up and said he didn’t receive the email. At this point, my options were to keep emailing or try faxing again. I told him I was going to go into a T-Mo store and fax from there. The fax number he provided was: 505-998-3796.
8-10-12 The Fax
I went into a T-Mobile store and had them fax the lease agreement. I also had them print out the confirmation. In all, I had 25 pages faxed.
8-10-12 Resolution (Finally)
After over a full month of emails, faxes and frustration, I received a call around 4:30pm on a Friday afternoon letting me know that I was no longer under contract with T-Mobile. Finally!!!! Success!
The Aftermath
Once I was out of contract with T-Mobile, I was able to port my number to Verizon, which gave T-Mobile their final opportunity to screw me over. Since the ordeal took so long, the next month had started on my T-Mobile account (my bills started on the 8th). According to T-Mobile terms and conditions, the last bill is the last month in its entirety, regardless of when service terminated. What this meant is that I would be paying T-Mobile for weeks when I was currently a Verizon customer. As an added bonus, T-Mobile also removed the employer discount on the final bill which meant I had to pay an extra 14%.
Lesson Learned
The lesson I take away from all this is never to use T-Mobile again and to share my story so if others are lied to, they have recourse. I urge anyone with T-Mobile to consider this story and think about if push comes to shove, are the cost savings worth dealing with a horrible company?
I encourage anyone to pose questions or comments in the comments section below.
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Podcasts I love

WNCI is the popular station in Columbus. Unfortunately, all they play is overproduced music over and over and over again. If you want to hear Lady Gaga, that is the station for you. Fortunately, Columbus also features independent radio in the form on CD102.5, The Alternative Station. In my opinion, this is one of the best stations in the country. From the Big Room Brunch on Sunday (featuring live performances recorded in their studio) to Front Stage every night at 9pm where the station features local music.

The problem with only one station that I really like is that I can only listen so much every day before it gets repetitive. Thankfully, when I drive to and from work (as well as long roadtrips), I’ve found some great Podcasts to help pass the time. With that said, here are a few of my favorites.

1. Gleeman and the Geek – http://gleemangeek.libsyn.com/

For this podcast, it helps to be a Minnesota Twins fan, however, that’s only a minor requirement. Aaron Gleeman (aarongleeman.com) and John Bonnes (twinsgeek.com) team up to bring an entertaining podcast. I wish I knew a better way to describe this, but both hosts are very likable and the 90 minutes tends to fly by. Whether it’s Aaron giving updates on not leaving the house or John giving updates on a midlife crisis motorcycle purchase, it seems like you’re at the table with the hosts enjoying a pitcher of beer. If they ever have an episode at the Lions Tap (http://www.lionstap.com/), I may have to fly up to witness it.

2. Stuff You Should Know – http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/hsw-shows/stuff-you-should-know-podcast.htm

This is a podcast featuring Josh Clark and Charles W. (Chuck) Bryant that touches on various topics that people wish they knew more about. The informal banter and 20-35 minute length is perfect. The rapport that Josh and Chuck have is extremely entertaining. I’m convinced my friend Harold is also Josh Clark because they sound the same and have the same sense of humor.

Daves of Thunder – http://davesofthunder.com/

Perhaps the greatest podcast ever. I was crushed when this went away. It featured Hollywood writer Dave Feeney and radio personality Dave Dameshek in an hour that had amazing original content and amazing arguments. I remember waking up on Monday and downloading this podcast before I got in the shower and listening to and from work. Just dynamite. I wish there was a way to get this podcast back again.

Adam Carolla Podcast – http://www.adamcarolla.com/

The Guinness Record holder for most downloaded podcast ever. The production value is extremely high and the guests allow something for everyone. If you’re checking out the archives, I can’t recommend the Lenard Nemoy episode enough. Also, anything with Dr. Drew is a must listen to.

Others to check out: The Poscast with Joe Posnanski, This American Life and Planet Money.

If you have any podcasts you’d recommend, please feel free to mention them in the comments.

Great Customer Service

I haven’t updated the blog for a while because I’ve recently enrolled at Ohio State for a night class and I’m trying to get out and run as much as I can before the days get too short and the weather turns. I have some ideas for future blog posts. Some of these include ‘How T-Mobile is the Worst Company Ever’, ‘Recommended Podcasts’, and maybe a post about my Amazon addiction or an update on life without cable.

Anyway, the purpose of this post is the exact opposite of the upcoming T-Mobile post. In this day and age, it’s extremely rare to get amazing customer service. So when it happens, it should be rewarded. Here are some of my favorite stores for amazing customer service.

PetPeople (http://www.petpeoplestores.com/)

PetPeople is a local pet store in the Columbus area. It’s not just a pet store, they bill themselves as a nutrition store for pets. Every time I walk in, the staff is overly friendly. At one point the manager knew both dogs by name. The store allows dogs in the store and actually encourages it. They support numerous local pet events through sponsorship and supply top notch products. They also have a 100% satisfaction guarantee. My example of incredible customer service is two-fold. They sold a toy that was tested by lions to be indestructible and also sold a toy made of recycled fire hoses to be extra strong….. well…. lo and behold, Tobey destroyed both within 15 minutes. PetPeople was great allowing me to return them since they didn’t live up to the promise. I absolutely love this store.

iOttie (http://www.amazon.com/gp/aag/main?ie=UTF8&asin=&isAmazonFulfilled=1&isCBA=&marketplaceID=ATVPDKIKX0DER&orderID=&seller=A2FE6D62A4WM6Q)

When I bought my Samsung Galaxy SII (since replaced with the Galaxy SIII), I needed a universal car mount. After looking at the reviews on Amazon, I purchased the following. – http://www.amazon.com/iOttie-Windshield-INCREDIBLE-BlackBerry-Revolution/dp/B00687N0GK/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

However, after a few months, the product wasn’t working that great. I took to Amazon to write a review and let people know that the item wasn’t performing how I would like. Within 24 hours, the company emailed me directly and offered to send the next model up as a replacement for free since I was dissatisfied. If anyone needs a car mount for their phone backed by great service…. this is the one to buy.

http://www.amazon.com/iOttie-One-Touch-INCREDIBLE-BlackBerry-Revolution/dp/B007FHCR20/ref=?ie=UTF8&m=A2FE6D62A4WM6Q

That’s My Ticket (http://www.thatsmyticket.com/)


After attending the 2001 National Championship Game (Fiesta Bowl) in which The Ohio State Buckeyes won their first national championship since 1968, I fell in love with the ticket lanyard. Unfortunately (or fortunately), the lanyard I had at the Fiesta Bowl had extreme sentimental value and was part of the ticket to the game forever (in fact it is still hanging in the home office). I needed a solution for future OSU home games. That’s where ‘That’s My Ticket’ came in. I ordered from them off Ebay. Unfortunately, I ordered the wrong size laminate (the pouch that holds the ticket). I emailed them directly to order the right size, but they wouldn’t let me pay. Instead, they sent the correct size and called us square.

Amazon and Zappos

This goes without saying and any google search will bring up countless tales of when zappos or amazon went above and beyond. For me, Amazon has been amazing in responding quickly to any inquiry and correcting mistakes. Even if it was my fault. For instance, I rented a movie from them. Once I started streaming, I realized it wasn’t in HD. I then ordered the HD movie and emailed them asking if there was any way for a refund for the first rental. Within an hour they had it credited back to my account.

If you’ve got any amazing customer service stories or any stores you recommend. Feel free to comment.