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Chris Metcalf

specialization is for insects

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For the last two years, I was a BlackBerry user and a T-Mobile customer. As a whole, I was very happy with their service. Their coverage was good, their data plans were cheap, and they rarely did anything sketchy to try and rip me off, besides that normal cell phone company “Hah hah! You sent five extra text messages so we’re going to bill you at a rate of $32,153/mb for that extra 800 bytes of data you sent!” trick. None of that evil stuff AT&T or Cingular did so many years back that drove me away.

iPhone 3G Logo

But, I’ll admit, I was seduced by the new girl on the block. The hot new iPhone 3G with her sleek black exterior and big sexy screen. And I probably didn’t do my homework as well as I should have. I knew I’d bought my BlackBerry two years ago, and I was sure it was in the summer, but I didn’t know exactly when my contract expired. Worst case scenario I’d ride out the final month of my contract then I’d be in the clear. I was positive I’d be fine, so I jumped…

10. days. early.

This, of course, I didn’t know until I got my final T-Mobile bill today and discovered a $200 early termination fee. Apparently T-Mobile considers porting your cell phone number a request to terminate your contract, so they decided I was on my way out.

So I called T-Mobile customer service at 9PM on a Monday night, fully expecting to wait an hour only to be told “Well sir, you should have reviewed your contract before you terminated your service.” Shockingly, within about 10 minutes there was a human at the other end of the line. I explained my situation and, to my surprise, he said “Well, you were only 10 days early, so I think I can help you out”. It took a few cycles of him putting me on hold to talk to supervisors, since he’d never done an override like this one before, but he was able to convert my $200 termination fee to a $7 “contract buyout fee”.

This is an example of truly awesome customer service. Being polite, reasonable, and fair to your customers, even as they are walking out the door. More companies should emulate this. If you’re looking to buy a new (non-Apple) phone, you can do much worse than T-Mobile.

Photo from Fr3d.org’s CC-licensed Flickr photostream