Let’s Not Forget the Customer Service Basics in the Race to Innovate: Poor Customer Service Example from T-Mobile US

As a consumer, of all my bills my mobile/wireless phone bill remains the most troublesome.  Electricity, water, gas, broadband, TV and even fixed/VoIP telephony appear with few surprises.  A quick search online shows there is a significant problem with mobile operator’s billing.  My recent experience with T-Mobile US made me realize they do not understand me as a customer, and their behavior is a disincentive to trusting them to use new services.

After a busy July and August a big mobile bill arrived, thanks to the punitive overage charges US mobile operators impose on their customers.  For customers of mobile operators outside the US, imaging a phone bill arriving where the operator decides to charge all your in-country calls over a certain number of minutes as if you’re internationally roaming.  So a $70 bill can become a $300 or higher bill.

In discussing the extortion with T-Mobile, I was told to check my minutes from my phone using the shortcode, which is OK if I’m actually in the country.  If they checked their records they’d see I travel regularly, and more importantly have never checked my minutes.  I asked why they could not automatically move me to a higher plan as my minutes run out.  The suggestion was ignored, even though its fair to both parties.  From this experience I will not trust T-Mobile to experiment with new services.

In the end I was blackmailed into signing to another contract to partially reduce the bill.  This as a critical barrier for US operators, why will customers play with innovative new services, when even on the basic telephone service they run the risk of getting stung by unforeseen charges.  Until operators get the customer service basics right, why would they be trusted like Apple or Google?