T-Mobile vs. the customer: Round three (the foul-up)

This is the third in a short series of posts detailing my experience as a T-Mobile customer. My goal was to upgrade my phone without paying more than a new customer would. (Since I’ve been a T-Mobile customer for 8 years, it only seems fair.)  You can read round two here.

Round one was fast and smooth and earned T-Mobile 3 points. Round two was not as happy as they lost 5 points putting them 2 points under water.

With round three I find myself waiting on hold for the next level of customer support. Because the front line person (Andy)  was unable to help me with my request, I accepted his offer to escalate to someone who could help.

When “Albert” answered he asked for the usual information to verify who I was. I find this a tiny bit annoying because I just spent 10 minutes on the phone with his T-Mobile colleague who already verified me. I’m already in the door. Why should I have to prove (again) I am who I say I am? Minus one point.

Next Albert asked what this was about. I almost said “huh?” but I recovered enough to explain to him what Andy I and discussed and what I was looking for. But I should not have had to do this. Andy should have given Albert all the information he needed. Never ask a customer the same information twice unless it’s completely unavoidable.  Always inform the next person when you hand off a customer. Deduct two points.

At this point Albert reiterated the price of the phone upgrade, roughly $120 with shipping. I reminded him that a new customer would pay only a penny (plus a $35 activation fee). We went back and forth until he got the whole price down to $47 and some change. He told me this was the best he could do. He also reminded me (several times) that T-Mobile “really” valued my loyalty and would hate to lose me as a customer.

Do they write that in the script multiple times? Or are there arrows that loop back to that when you’re not sure what else to say? The only time Albert left his script was when he got input from someone standing next to him. I could hear her say something to him. Then he said the exact same thing to me…

I guess you could call it dynamic interactive live scripting.

Minus two points for wasting my time again. He should have just cut to the $47 rather than haggle with me. And minus four more points for having someone tell him what to say with me hearing the whole thing.

Another thing I find frustrating is, he said his $47 offer was final and only good for this call. This old-school tactic has been around for decades. I’m a little surprised large companies still use it. We know they do it to pressure customers into buying on the spot. It removes the opportunity for a customer to consider their options. It’s manipulative, phony and tacky. It didn’t work. Minus one point for trying to pressure me.

What was really frustrating was that Albert was supposed be an escalation. When you escalate a customer support issue, the customer expects a higher quality of assistance. I expect the next person to be better equipped to handle our situation. I do not expect someone who needs to be walked through every question and response.

We spent about 30 minutes on the phone and ended with Albert’s offer of $47. This was better than $120 but it was still higher than the $35.01 which a new customer would pay.

If you really value loyal customers, don’t charge them more (not even a penny more) than your new customers.  The issue here is fairness and T-Mobile has missed the mark completely. They messed up by sending me to someone who had almost no ability to handle my call. Minus five points for ineptitude.

This was a tough round. T-Mobile lost 15 points, finishing with negative 17. This will be a hard hole to climb out of.

At this juncture, most customers would quit. But I know there are still doors open to me to try to accomplish my mission.  So I will continue to round four. Stay tuned!

The article was written by Kevin Stirtz