Thursday, January 23, 2014

Few things to know when you are buying a phone from T-Mobile

T-Mobile has been making waves with their 1.5 million new customers and their Uncarrier movement [T-Mobile added new 1.6 million customers] . Their new unconventional CEO claims T-Mobile is different, Is it?

I have been T-Mobile customer for almost 5 years, I can definitely see some differences, Here is my recent experience with T-Mobile on unlocking my phone.

I bought a new iPhone for my wife from T-Mobile store, I paid the full amount for the phone. No installment, no contract, Full Price. When I was buying, I knew that we were going to travel to India in next couple of weeks. So I asked the agent who sold the phone to me about unlocking. He said that, since I have paid in full for the phone, he didn’t think there would be any problem unlocking it. Made sense at that time. So I went home and called the T-Mobile customer service to unlock it. Fun things started unfold.

I learned that, even though I paid the full price for the phone, I have to wait 40 days. T-Mobile puts this mandatory 40 days wait period to unlock your device, doesn’t matter you pay full price or not. I explained about my trip to India and they gave me free data for a month and that plan came with international roaming for the voice and data. It was not a perfect solution, I had to pay 20 cents for every minute and data speed was very low. It was on Edge network for most of the time. But the agent did what he can do to ease my pain.

We gave that phone to my brother in-law, hoping that we can unlock it after that 40 days wait period. Oh boy! What a bad assumption. After that 40 days wait period, I called the T-Mobile customer service and gave my IMEI number to unlock it. I was told, I would get the code within 72 hours.

Couple of days of waiting, I received an email saying that, they can’t unlock it since the phone was not active in last 7 days. I called again & talked to an agent and her supervisor. That supervisor promised me that he would escalate this unlock this phone. After this call, I called quiet a few times to get the status and case was escalated few times. Then I got in touch with an agent named David who pursued this till end and updated the status along the way. Finally the phone was unlocked.

This was very frustrating experience, miscommunications all along they way. But one thing stood out, Customer Service agents. I have been using T-Mobile for almost 5 years, I have never seen such a good support. In the past, agents were powerless, they would repeat the same thing again & again like a parrot. But this time, I talked to as many as 7-8 agents and all of them are very nice and took responsibility and went beyond their way to solve my problem.
Lessons learned from this endeavor,
  1. Even you the full price for the phone, it will still be locked to T-Mobile network. So go buy an unlocked phone from Apple or Google.
  2. You can’t unlock it right away, you have to wait 40 days. If you want to return your phone, there is 40$ restocking fee.
  3. After 40 days, if you call, they want your phone active for 7 days in T-Mobiles network.
If T-Mobile listens to it’s customers and keeps up with its excellent customer service, they will definitely stay different from all other big & fat carriers and attract lot more new customers.