I have been with T-Mobile cell phone service provider since a long time and I’ve never faced any sort of problem with them. I pay $71 every month including taxes for 700 minutes per month (including incoming and outgoing); the weekends and weeknights after 9 pm are free and all calls between T-mobile cell phone are also free. Fair enough!
Since last month, I have been on online meetings with lots of other people, receiving some sort of a training. All of us connect a minute or two before 9 pm (Central Standard Time) to be on time. Common sense tells me that I will be billed for just that one-two minutes before 9 pm, right? Imagine the shock I got when I opened my online account today to find a bill of $350 waiting for me. 😮 Needless to say, I was stunned.
So, I called them up and told them that it’s not possible that I would have exceeded 700 minutes at any rate. In fact, I hardly use more than 500 minutes per month. They told me that since I called up at 8:58-59ish pm, I was charged at the peak rate and the minutes were included in my allotted 700 minutes. Hence, I had exceeded my 700 minutes for the month and have been billed for those extra minutes.
It took me more than 3 hours to make them understand my side of the story. Moreover, my understanding is that if they’ve charged me for those minutes, then why weren’t those minutes being reflected in my balance whenever I used to check it? I told them that and they didn’t have any response to that. Instead, they went on to tell me how it’s stated in their terms and conditions that calls are charged at the rate depending upon the time of origin of that particular call. Why do they advertise their plans are “Calls after 9 pm are free!” Wouldn’t you think that any call (irrespective of the time of origin) after 9 pm would be free?
The first representative agreed to refund me $32 (only!). When I demanded that I should be connected to a higher level customer rep., she told me that if I chose to speak to a higher rep, then I would not be given $32 refund. (Wait…is this some sort of a reality game show?!). I took my chances and told her that I’m fine with it. The next rep. kept on repeating the same old story that it’s there in their terms and conditions blah blah…and finally agreed to give me back $49, which I refused again. I spoke to the manager next, who wouldn’t listen to anything I had to say- that I was not given any sort of notification that I’d exceeded my minutes, that I was not aware of the fact that they would be charging me for the entire call, even though 98% of the talk time was after 9 pm!
Highly frustrated, I told him that I’m no illiterate and at least because of my law background, I can read his terms and conditions. A layman won’t even bother to do that. I threatened him with a lawsuit and literally banged the phone. Very politely, he reminded me next that since I’d refused the previous refund of $49, I wouldn’t be granted anything.
This is where I lost my patience and hung up. I called back again after cooling down a bit. This lady turned out to be a real tough cookie. In addition to being rude, she wouldn’t even listen to what I was trying to say. She didn’t have the answers to my questions. Again, I got connected to a manager, who, by God’s grace, was quite kind and was willing to listen to my side of the story.
He understood the fact that there are two sides to the same coin and that both of had different opinions. Whereas they felt that their terms and conditions are clear on this, I, as a consumer, feel cheated and strongly believe that it’s deceptive advertising. Moreover, why didn’t their system reflect those charges? Why did my account balance show that I had used only 500 or so minutes?!
After three hours, lots of haggles and arguments, they finally brought $295 down to $95. So…I’m still paying, but a lesser amount. This has been my first bad experience with T-Mobile and I’m not happy about that.
People who have been reading my blog since some time will know that I dislike talking over the cell phone. Imagine paying money when you don’t even use that damn thing that often.
Next time you make that call during peak time, please remember that you will be charged for the entire call, even though you might be talking after 9 pm. And yes, if you make a call in the morning (during the off peak time) and your call continues during the regular peak time, then you won’t be charged for it. Really weird? Perhaps people like me who originate the call a minute or two before 9 pm pay for all those countless people who are very smart and call during the off peak time and continue their calls during the regular peak time.