Michael J. Radwin

Tales of a software engineer who keeps kosher and hates the web.

T-mobile customer service finally comes through

masthead_tmobile.gif After a few weeks of pleading with my cell phone carrier, they have finally resolved a billing error. This is a good thing for both of us. Good for me, because I generally like my calling plan and would hate to give it up, and good for them, because they will continue to get my business.

Back in March, we traveled to Italy, Hungary, and Israel for a couple of weeks. Since I have a GSM phone, I called T-mobile from the airport to find out if I could use it overseas.

The customer service rep told me that yes, in fact I could use the phone in Europe and Israel. When I asked about rates, she said that it was basically 29 cents a minute. I asked several follow-up questions — 29 cents a minute from Europe to the US? Yes. How about from Europe to Europe or from Europe to Israel? Yes, same 29 cents a minute rate applies. From Israel to US? Also 29 cents. Same per-minute rate for incoming and outgoing calls? Yes. Any service charge or monthly fee? Nope.

This seemed like a pretty good deal. So sure enough, we used the phone quite a bit to make hotel reservations, reconfirm our flights, and call our friends and family. In total, we made 166 minutes of calls while we were overseas.

When we got back to the US, I got the bill. Instead of the $48 in roaming charges I was expecting, somehow we managed to rack up a total of $313. Simply put, the rates were totally different from what the rep quoted me. I was billed 99 cents a minute for calls made within Italy and Hungary, and $2.99 a minute for calls made within Israel.

So I called T-mobile customer service and explained the situation calmly and patiently to the rep who answered. Laura seemed very friendly and sympathetic, but ultimately was unable to help me. She explained that the other rep must’ve been confused, since the 29 cent rate is for the opposite calling direction.

Laura even put in a request for a $265 credit, but she said wasn’t sure it was going to go through. The fact that the original rep never mentioned the 29 cent rate explicitly in my file meant that the billing folks would likely reject my credit request. I explained that I would be happy to talk to her supervisor or anyone in billing if they wanted more details.

A couple of weeks passed and no contact from T-mobile. The auto-pay thing kicked in and my credit card was charged for the $313 amount. I guess they rejected the $265 credit request.

I called back today and got a hold of another rep. I explained the whole situation to John, and he put me on hold so he could read up on all of the notes in my file to see what happened. When John came back from hold, he apologized for the overbilling problem, but explain that the billing department rejected the claim because there was no evidence in the file that the rep in March said anything about the 29 cent rate.

I told John, “I’m really frustrated because I think T-mobile should honor the rate that I was quoted back in March.” I even explained that I understand now that the actual rates are $0.99 and $2.99 and that the original rep was wrong to quote me 29 cents back in March, but that I feel that I shouldn’t be penalized for her error. He apologized and empathized, but admitted that he was powerless to help me. He offered to put in another credit request for $265, but was pretty sure it would just get rejected again.

I told him that I guess I’m going to need to cancel my account if they can’t honor the rate that they quoted me.

Those must have been the magic words, because John said, “Well, before we go down that road, let me see if I can find someone in a different department to help you.” He put me on hold for a while longer, and Susan got on the phone. She had already read my file, but asked me to explain what happened in my own words. We talked for a while, and she said she needed to talk to her supervisor, so could I please hold.

Susan finally came back from hold with the greeting, “Good news. We’re going to honor the rate you were quoted, so we’re going to credit your account for $265.”

Apparently I found the right person to talk to. Thanks, Susan. You’ve restored my faith in T-mobile.