advertising, Business, Cell phones, Customer service, General ramblings, Life, T-Mobile, Thoughts

A Date with the T-Mobile Customer Service Department

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. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ 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.

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42 thoughts on “A Date with the T-Mobile Customer Service Department

  1. Well Good girl, stick to your guns for your rights as a consumer!

    Didn’t their written terms and conditions indicate this fact that calling before peak time meant you will be charged for entire call? If not, then T-mobile was definitely at fault.

    Another lesson from the episode, its a gimmick: That if you talk to manager, you would not even get this 32$ waive off! ๐Ÿ™‚ So you should insist on speaking higher up.

  2. @ Poonam Sharma:

    Yes, that’s what I tried to do.

    Didnโ€™t their written terms and conditions indicate this fact that calling before peak time meant you will be charged for entire call? If not, then T-mobile was definitely at fault.

    They say that they’ve written it. But believe me, does anyone ever read the entire 20 page document (in such fine print)? This is how these people make money.

    That if you talk to manager, you would not even get this 32$ waive off! ๐Ÿ™‚ So you should insist on speaking higher up.

    The first rep offered me $32 off; the second one offered me $49 off and by the time I reached the manager, he said that he won’t give me anything off since I’d already rejected the ‘offer”. Can you believe it? As if this is some sort of a gambling game going on here. That’s the reason I called back again after a couple of minutes, to see if I could talk to a better person who would understand what I meant.

  3. This I am afraid is typically American – a legalistic environment in all possible ways. On the other hand, this is also a sign of a maturing market where companies find it harder to make money and some of them choose to be just this side of the line drawn by laws.

    That is why sometimes our slower, duller European environment is good. The Damoclean threat of regulation is never far from the necks of companies. So although caveat emptor applies for us too, most vendors now send us notices of contractual alterations summarising upfront the new wording and how it differs from the old wording. One does not need a law degree to read these changes; just an ability to read (which in present day UK, I would not take for granted!).

    That said this is a silly way of charging. It will be more sensible to change charging regimes once the ‘boundary’ time is reached.

    For instance, in the UK, I use a VoIP number (not from Vonage) where calls lasting up to 1 hour and made to UK landlines are free. Thereafter they charge at a pre-published rate depending on your level of subscription of which there are only two. I sometimes have long discussions about my projects with potential clients and about my pet projects with friends. So sometimes I pay some money for the 3 or 5 minute after the hour is up.

    You should see the number of doodads that T-Mobile offers in the UK (we have no call termination charges – I used to pay that in India when I took out my first mobile with Airtel in 1995 so you can imagine how antiquated it seems – unless on roaming outside our country; in the UK, there is no roaming between regions). I am sure they make money on information asymmetries as you have experienced.

  4. But Ruhi, treat this as a warning. THat is what Amit says in his consumer rights interview on my blog at http://alchemistpoonam.wordpress.com/2008/01/08/interview-with-consumer-rights-activist-amit-part-2/(see the answer to the first question) that as a consumer, we sign contracts all the time. It is essential to know what we are getting to know. I know it is tedious, sometime barely understandable. But it is a prevention against such companies. It is definitely better than cure (that comes with lots of hassle and headache later.)

    Hey, dont mind this sounds preachy to, even me. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  5. You’re lucky you got away with it if it’s written in the Terms and Conditions.

    And I’m too worried about things like that which is why I always read them. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. @Bap

    Sure, I do. ๐Ÿ™‚ They never charged us for incoming!! Plus, I’ve heard that the roaming charges will be eliminated too.

    @Shefaly

    you’re right when you talk about the maturing market. In fact, US has one of the highest % of cell phone users. (I think only next to China and another country, if I’m not wrong). Do you get charged for incoming minutes in UK, btw? Here, we get charged for incoming minutes too! So, I’m paying if someone else wants to talk to me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    wording. One does not need a law degree to read these changes; just an ability to read (which in present day UK, I would not take for granted!).

    I agree! But how many of us exactly read these terms and conditions, when they are in such fine print and span twenty pages? If it’s for 2-3 pages, then I do. For example- I did read the contract that I received from my landlord. We sign up for terms and conditions all the time- even when we make a simple e-mail account. I’m sure nobody even reads them. Clicking on the “I accept” button is consenting though.

    Charging me for a couple of minutes before the off peak hours start is justifiable and on that grounds, I wouldn’t have exceeded 700 minutes. But this is nothing short of an outright loot. Even if they charge me, why exactly didn’t they update my online account and provide me with the up to date information? I came to know about it only when I logged into my account today and saw my electronic statement. They ‘feel’ that their system notified me though, which is a total lie.

    There are no roaming charges here either. Calls made to any American town/city are charged at the regular rate, even when we’re not in the place of our residence.

    I am sure they make money on information asymmetries as you have experienced.

    Sure, they did and they are aware of this miscommunication, but won’t do anything to state it clearly to the customers.

    @Poonam

    Do you read the terms and conditions when you make an e-mail account or a blog? ๐Ÿ™‚ It was a very costly ‘warning’, if you can call it so. I wouldn’t call it a warning because I wasn’t even informed of it. I saw it today when I checked my electronic statement to pay the bill.

    @Cat

    It might have been mentioned in some fine print in their 20 page document. Am I the only person, who inspite of having a law degree, doesn’t read the ENTIRE document? They had to refund my money, because they were charging me without letting me know! Their system never updated me on the number of minutes I’m being billed for, when they are supposed to let us know. Plus, I don’t think any of my friends are aware of this; this is the first time I’ve seen something of this sort happening. You should see how deceptive their advertisements are.

  7. Ruhi: We do not pay termination charges in the UK – which translates to “we do not pay for incoming calls”. Sorry I am used to this shorthand :-/

    When I used T-Mobile in Boston in 2003, we were charged to call a non-Boston number, receive calls from anywhere and of course, when I went to California and called or received calls from anyone. Nice!

    I seem to recall there is case law already where an e-vendor’s expectation of someone reading a long T&Cs list was held as nonsense by a judge. I have to rush out but if you have Lexis access you may be able to find it yourself. (I do read all the pages and we have a 14-day cooling off period during which a customer or the supplier can get out of the contract with no grievance on either’s part).

    Now on the delay between your usage and updation of your online account – now there is a technicality you can play legalese with. If you can demonstrate a finite difference of time, and if you can demonstrate that they cajole and coax people into signing for e-billing and then provide less than satisfactory service, then you are laughing! You can make claims for all sorts of breach of responsibility/ contract/ whatever else and in Europe, for mental distress (I have been told by an American tech lawyer friend in Sili Valley I should have been a lawyer…hmm.)

    Good luck. I would find another supplier though.

  8. Sure they should’ve let you follow your bill online or wherever and that’s why they refunded, but I’m still saying you’re lucky.

    I don’t have a contract phone because I don’t want the hassle.

    Plus, I donโ€™t think any of my friends are aware of this

    Time for you to educate them. Andjust cause they don’t know either doesn’t really mean anything though! It’s still written in the contract you signed. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    You should see how deceptive their advertisements are.

    Yep, they always are.

    This reminds me when I ordered a new bed in the store and they guy handed me a 4 page contract. I sat there reading through, asking questions which took about ten minutes. He said to me afterwards that only 1/20 people actually read them.

  9. I’ve had my share of bad days with Airtel too but mostly it’s been good. I don’t like their Rs 6/min policies but still it’s good that I get to send text messages at Rs 0.15/message without having any service activated. It just happened one day and I hope it persists. The usual cost is Rs 1/message. But that’s only for the local ones. The other messages still cost Rs. 2/message.

  10. @ Shefaly:

    I hope they eliminate incoming charges soon then. The cell phone charges here are too high.

    I seem to recall there is case law already where an e-vendorโ€™s expectation of someone reading a long T&Cs list was held as nonsense by a judge.

    That’s some good information that you’ve provided me with. In my experience of reading other consumer cases, I’ve noticed that the benefit of doubt is given to the consumer and the latter is always assumed to be a layman, with a sound mind and reasonable sense of understanding.

    There was another case recently where someone was billed for $80,000 (when his bill shouldn’t have gone above $100) by AT&T (again, because the terms & conditions were not clear). The onus lies on the company to inform the consumer if any out-of-the-line behavior is being observed. In my case, it was definitely out of the ordinary, because they said that the minutes consumed were 2600. And I don’t go over 500 minutes a month. So you can imagine…

    //If you can demonstrate a finite difference of time

    Actually, there was. They started billing me extra 12/19 onwards and even on 12/26 (when I checked my monthly usage), I was being shown only 450 or so minutes. So, they did err. I’ve heard of the mental distress too and it works in the US. Doesn’t work that much in India though, because it’s not tangible.

    Mental distress in my case would be a big thing, considering the fact that I’m unemployed currently ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I would terminate my contract, but that would mean paying ‘exit’ fees.

    Btw, do you know that a credit card is the only ‘product’ where the terms and conditions change without the consent of the user? How is it a valid contract then? There is an amazing documentary called “The Secrets of the Credit Card Industry” that exposes lots of loop holes in the credit card industry in the US.

    @Cat

    I wouldn’t call it as being ‘lucky’. Like I told Shefaly, their mistake cost me money because they are supposed to reflect those charges on my account and they didn’t. Had they done that, then I would have shut off my phone. And it’s not that I’m not paying. I’m still paying $95 on top of the regular bill. I would take them to court if I had the time; but unfortunately, I don’t and I have other pressing matters to attend to currently. Looks like it’s time for me to start reading every single fine print.

    Edit: Forgot to add- Regarding the mattress thing: You go girl! ๐Ÿ™‚ That’s some inspiration for sure.

    @Ish

    I think the cell phone charges in India are really cheap and I miss my Airtel days. Here, I need to pay even for incoming SMS (and incoming calls). Can you believe that? I don’t send more than 2-3 SMSs in the entire month- that too, if someone messages me.

  11. oooh !! I got a friend now lol..

    I had somewhat similar experience.

    —-My Date with Hutch ( Vodafone )—

    Shall i write a post here ? lol just kidding.. I bought a postpaid connection after coming back from Blore, and also bought the addon pack for 99, which will give me all india hutch to hutch calls at 1/min

    from the very next month, they started billing me at the regular rate, that is 2.40, plus 99 for that addon so, 140% extra on std calls.

    Bills went 1000 to 2000 extra bucks..I have been working as customer service rep, as semi voice, then purely voice process, and now in non voice process, right from the start of my career to this very moment.. when I get bad customer service experience, I screw up their happiness, and I am good at it, since i know how things work there.. I called n 3 months, 10 calls at least a month to correct each bill

    4th month, I thought about leaving it.. called in and said, I need a single bill, a single bill corrected, just to see if u guys know how to bill.. and I will cancel this, dont send me anything or call me for anything without sending me corrected bill. I took off that sim card and started using another one prepaid..

    they continued sending me bills.. without correcting it.. and on my last call to their cc, I reached up to the manager in the shift. ( well, time ? 2 Am ) and after lots of argument, he completely accepted their mistake and promised me that he will take care of it and send me something after correcting call me in the morning etc etc

    nothing happened, believe me, I had kept the money to pay them, waiting for the corrected bill, and after 1 or 2 weeks I get notice from their advocate.. well, i left the idea of making the payment .. they still have that bill for me !!!

    I left their postpaid, taking 2 other customers of theirs with me !!

  12. Which is why I use prepaid. [Other than the obvious reason that postpaid isn’t available here… they retracted the products after lots of losses. ๐Ÿ˜€ ]

    Btw, I’m hoping against hope that you will still use the timeandagainblog.com domain with this blog… I’m too lazy to change the link. ๐Ÿ˜›

  13. A lesson learnt! Ur lucky u got the amount down! Once I had a similar experice with NEtkracker – Wipro product-looong time back! Because i logged in early they added the amount to my current surfing amount and while the whole world was surfing for free, i was actually paying for it for loggin in early!!!

  14. i have blogrolled both of your sites ..,. i agree with ashish.
    It may not be long when you again jump back to ur own domain..
    by the way how much did it cost you ??

  15. ohhh dear…if indians had to pay for sms here….the mobile companies wud have been shut down…i know friends who send more than 500 msgs a day….

    i have had similar problem with my internet connection here….like i have unlimited data transfer after 2 in the nite…i.e from 2am to 8am…but if i connect to the net at 1:59 am,i will be charged…hell once i was screwed while downloading a movie….

  16. Ruhi:

    “Btw, do you know that a credit card is the only โ€˜productโ€™ where the terms and conditions change without the consent of the user?”

    They do but in the UK and Europe, the card issuer is required to explain the changes to the consumer as I described earlier; and the consumer is free to terminate the contract without penalties in most cases.

    The things that change without such notification include, most importantly, interest rates. And every statement includes a fore-warning on upcoming changes – both upward and downward.

    For a free market, the US is remarkably full of scheming suppliers and oblivious consumers in my experience ๐Ÿ™‚ That is how all this continues.

    In the UK we have very strong consumer lobby groups which watch companies like hawks. Time you guys had some too.

  17. moo says:

    I also have T-Mobile and can I tell you that their customer service department is MUCH MUCH better than Verizon?

    Also … there are plenty of plans now where you can get 1500 “anytime” minutes for under $50/mo, including taxes & surcharges. They’ll try to scare you by saying BUT NIGHTS! and WEEKEND! AREN’T FREE! Bah. Who cares? Who uses 1500 minutes in a month anyway, except for teenagers and maybe phone sex addicts? Just sayin’ that maybe you might want to look into changing your plan?

  18. You have to pay for incoming sms’s too? That totally sucks. That’s like you’re on roaming 24/7.

    And man, you always end up on the main WordPress.com page always. I’m so not gonna be able to beat your hits if it goes on like this. ๐Ÿ˜›

  19. @ dinsan:

    Hey you’re more than welcome to write a post in my comments section. ๐Ÿ™‚ IT’s so unprofessional of Hutch to do that even though you complained 2-3 times. When I was in Pune, I had the post paid service for a couple of months and I always had a bill dispute. So, I went the pre-paid way finally. It’s great that at least you cared to look at your bill and refused to pay! There are some lazy people out there who don’t even care, you know? Or probably have too much of money to care…

    I left their postpaid, taking 2 other customers of theirs with me !!

    Awesome! So, these businesses actually pay the price of their poor customer service. And word of mouth is really very strong. Just goes on to show why they cannot afford to piss off anyone.

    @Ash

    I used to use pre-paid in India too; it used to work great. ๐Ÿ™‚ Pre-paid is too costly here. I will have to buy some 200 minutes (incl. both incoming and outgoing) for $30 or so and those minutes won’t even last me for a month. So, post paid is a better option here- for which, you need a good credit history.

    I won’t be using that domain anytime soon. So please change my URL ๐Ÿ˜‰

    @Arvind

    Thanks! You’re the wise guy for having blogrolled both my sites. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Coming back to the post, it’s still costing me $95 on top of my regular bill of $71. So, I’m still paying a price for their misrepresentation of T&C.

    @Puresunshine

    Thanks and welcome to my blog. :)I’ve seen you commenting in Amit’s blog. Like I said, I wouldn’t call it ‘lucky’. It was an error on their part, because they never updated my balance to show the erroneous charges. Had they done so, I wouldn’t have used my cell phone and would have realized how they’re making money. So, did you pay for the entire usage period or just a couple of minutes because you logged in early?

    @Rohan

    Yeah! You remember when Reliance was first introduced in India, the SMSs were free for a couple of months? My sister made full use of that scheme then. ๐Ÿ˜‰ And she still does. I think 100 SMSs/ day are free for her because she’s a medical student at Kasturba Medical College in Manipal.

    hell once i was screwed while downloading a movieโ€ฆ.

    Did you log in early and got charged for the entire download? I know how the internet stuff works in India. It really sucks. My mom pays money depending upon the quantity of data downloaded, that includes normal web page uploads. In fact, my sister didn’t know about it and watched an episode of Heroes during peak time and it cost Rs. 120. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

    @Nita Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Rambodoc

    Yes, I did want to blog about it because I know other T-mobile customers to know what’s going on here! I would have left their service, but I’m under a contract, which won’t expire until Sept., else I’ll have to pay “exit” fees.

    @Shefaly

    We are made aware of most of the tangential changes to the T&C in the credit card contract…changes that we wouldn’t really be affected by. When it comes to the interest rates, they can hike it anytime they want to, without any warning. Can you believe it? Even if I’ve been paying my bills within the due date (always), if I happen to miss one date, my old interest rate will become history. There are lots of credit cards here that offer 0% APR for 1 year and I do use two of them. Plus, I get 3% cash back on all my expenses. But like I said, one mistake from my side, and it could cost me a lot of money and my credit history. ๐Ÿ™‚ Not only will that company incr. the interest rate, but also other companies with whom I happen to hold an account.

    Most of the credit card companies here foot the bill for a lot of politicians and other Govt. organizations and get away with the cake. They keep shuttling the blame betn. two departments. We do need stricter regulations as far as the credit card industry (who earn a lot of money because of late fees and interest charges) and the telecommunications industry go.

    @Moo

    I haven’t used Verizon; so I can’t speak for them. I do know about the plan that you’re talking about. But most of my talking takes place during the weekends and nights- so this plan suits me fine. And if you’ve read the entire post- I don’t ever use my 700 minutes. What they did last month was unimaginable and they did it without even updating my account status, which they should have done.

    @Ish

    Yes, we need to pay for incoming sms’. But all calls originating (I’m being forced to use that word after my experience) after 9 pm are free. Plus, all calls on weekends are free..anywhere in the US. There is nothing called STD rates here. ๐Ÿ™‚ About the WP.com front page, RDoc and Nita informed me. Now you know why I came back? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Just kidding.

  20. Ruhi, in a country like US where it is easy for consumers to sue companies, companies take lot of safeguard measure like putting stupid, obvious labels as “Non-toxic ear plugs but might cause problem in wind pipe if swallowed.” I read a recent Karan Thapar’s article they have obvious and every possible labels on every product so that it holds them in good stead in a court case in future.

    The point I am trying to make here is that companies, for similar reasons, make you sign on the terms and conditions. Once you sign the dotted line, you agreed to the contract. It is only in my interest to read that.

    I did not read terms before, I admit. So much that I didnot know the importance of getting recipt and getting a written proof of what salesman offered me as a part of plan. This happened with my airtel corporate connection. After my card was activated, I founded Airtel was going against what promised. I stopped my cheque payment till my problem was solved (Luckily, could stop my cheque). And the reason I have not been able to buy house yet is that, I saw contracts from the builder. They are damn ambiguous, in fact they back off after they see my asking questions on their conditions.

    Trust me, the document is pathetic, long and unclear. But I read it, its my hard-earned money at stake (of course, cost of house can not be comparable to your mobile :P). I know all aboput consumer rights, but understand that my dream house will be in joepardy if I dont read that. You would be surprised to read these on their documents:

    1. The house will be handed over to you after the completion date. (when is the completion date, if it is 3 years write it)
    2. The plan and area of the apartment is subject to change in several conditions. (Hello, I paid for the plan and area, if that changes, of course, my price changes)

    If I am not willing to read these details in fine print, who else will on my behalf? ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  21. @ Ruhi: In relative financial literacy lies the nub of the current global financial crisis. The meem may inherit the earth; but the financial idiots surely will cause a recession first!

    @ Poonam: The last bit of your note refers to off-plan buying. These risks are the same everywhere.

    Both to-demand and speculative building are common in the building trade; however in more mature markets, the rules are the same for both kinds and not weighted in favour of one or the other. My sister bought a house in India a few years ago; I was astounded to hear of how many ‘revenue stamps’ were needed by her to register the purchase (Rs 18,000 worth if you are interested). Why? Oh why?

    India’s housing market is in development; if only the current buyers had the time and motivation to stop for a second and question the awful process and lobby for a change.

    Bottomline: consumers have to stand up for themselves; companies are.

  22. @Shefaly: My point exactly. As a consumer I have to stand up for myself. I have to careful when I buy anything: phone, house, stocks, etc. I have to read fine print.

    Yes I was talking about off-plan buying as an example. There no regulator so far in India on this, so all private players indulge in such kind of ambiguity. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ You know the moment I question a builder, deal seems to be going off(when in first case the builder was one pestering me to buy his). Because they know they can easily sell the same to another lallu.

    I am surprised to hear about that archaic form of registration.

  23. @ Poonam Sharma:

    companies take lot of safeguard measure like putting stupid, obvious labels as โ€œNon-toxic ear plugs but might cause problem in wind pipe if swallowed.

    It is very pertinent to do that here because of the costs involved when a consumer files a suit against you. The costs in this case are both monetary and non-monetary. The consumer rights protection is much much higher when we compare it to India. In fact, I’m quite satisfied with the level of customer service that I get here. That is the reason why I couldn’t digest my recent phone bill.

    I understand what you mean abt reading terms and conditions etc. It was a big mistake on my part not to have read everything in FULL when I signed up. Nothing of this sort ever happened before and this is my first instance of deceptive advertising here. But I think that maybe this case applies to other cell phone companies too.

    Regarding your housing contract thing, I was about to say the same thing that Shefaly did. These contracts are quite “unregulated”, if you’ll let me use that word and most of their T&C are decided privately, in that they don’t need to meet a lot of guidelines and regulations, as laid out in the Telecom industry. Therein lies the basic difference.

    It’s great that you read all the details, which speaks a lot for your intellect. I have never purchased a house, but if I were to do it, even I would be reading all the fine prints.

    @Shefaly

    Acc. to Merrill Lynch reports, the current slowdown in consumer spending in the retail industry is the first step towards recession and I think they’re right. This is how it starts.

  24. @ Ruhi:

    You say: “It is very pertinent to do that here because of the costs involved when a consumer files a suit against you”

    I think it is about the unique institution of class action lawsuits in the US. India’s PIL does not come close! And the UK has no such vehicle for litigation.

    This means that someone with an axe to grind can make a bigger deal out of it. Whether it benefits consumers may be debatable.

    You say: “Acc. to Merrill Lynch reports, the current slowdown in consumer spending in the retail industry is the first step towards recession and I think theyโ€™re right. This is how it starts.”

    Is it? ๐Ÿ™‚ I happened to speak with many people about this issue over the last few days. Most of my friends earn their living working in The City, the shorthand for London’s financial district. They are all old hands in this business and that is the only reason why I ask them such simple questions and expect to get profound and insightful answers.

    The general consensus that emerged is that market sentiment (implying the analysts) and the actual market dynamics (demand and spending figures) feed off each other and there is no definite way to say which way the causal arrow goes. Ergo no way to say what starts what off.

    However on how the current crisis started, I think it is a prime example of how information asymmetries, which drive a market, can also eventually lead to its crash. And think about it – it was not just the Ninjas who did not know what-for about their mortgages, but also the people who kept packaging the debt and the more repackaging it got, the obscurer the risk became.

    I think all vendors currently suffering – and Citi and Merrill scrounging around the Middle East and Far East for more capital – have brought it upon themselves. Greed, still in want of another word, is not good after all. ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. @Ruhi…here iam also paying money for not the download,they call it the data transfer….and ya i got charged for that complete movie download..

    do u know any good video streaming sites…

  26. @Shefaly

    Is it? ๐Ÿ™‚

    People have different opinions; and the market trends in the U.S and Europe are quite different currently.

    Your second part of the comment focuses on Behavioral Finance, I feel- a topics that I would love to study in fact. There has always been information asymmetry present, esp. during the time of a meltdown. Have you heard of th Tulip Meltdown in Holland? This was a long long time back, probably in the start of the 20th century, when the Dutch discovered the flower Tulip and thought that it’s exotic and started bidding up the price of this flower. Everyone started buying it. Then someone thought that it’s too overpriced and he started selling horse loads of it, this triggering an opp. effect. Everyone followed suit and the market crashed. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I think we can relate the current meltdown to this case. People were selling something (different kinds of mortgage instruments like CDOs) that they didn’t fully understand, so much so that even S&P and other valuation services couldn’t assess the risk/return profile correctly. ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Rohan

    Yes, that’s the word- Data transfer- which my mom used. ๐Ÿ™‚ I can only understand how much you must have paid for the entire movie (which must have been at least 500 MB I guess). You can search for all kinds of new and old movies and TV sitcoms on http://ovguide.com..it’s a mega search engine. ๐Ÿ™‚ Good luck! Let me know if it worked out.

  27. lallopallo says:

    It’s funny Ruhi, but I had a very similar experience with Rogers here in Montreal. I was able to refund most of the damage by upgrading myself to a higher plan even for the past months for which I was grossly charged -due to my blind faith on ignorant/clever sales rep ( when they tell u unlimited evenings and weekends, they dont tell u that there is a cap on that too).Anyways, it was not a bad decision to go for a higher plan because , in any case, I do need lot of minutes to talk.
    Couple of things I learnt in the process, which might be helpful for you guys too :
    1. Before you sign a contract for a plan, make sure you do understand very clearly what various terms exactly mean and how exactly minutes are charged.
    2. If something goes wrong – which most of the times happen because of our own misunderstanding of rules-no point arguing or giving shit to customer support guy/girl on phone. Simply put, they dont care!! Infact, more you show attitude, less likely it is that they will help you. But if you are polite and explain your problem patiently, they can go out of their way to solve your problem.
    Also, Iam talking of Canadians..which are supposed to be bit polite than Americans I guess ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. @ Kirk M:

    I agree with you totally. The monthly usage charges are way too high here- yet people are buying it and that is what is interesting. The % of cell phone users in the US is so high that SBC (AT&T) are planning to reduce the number of coin phones on the streets because nobody uses them these days (or so they think).

    @Lallo

    So you had to upgrade to a higher plan? That’s not fair! While we won’t have any cap on the weekend/night usage, this “calls originating after 9 pm) definitely took me for surprise. I have been using their service since a long time and had never encountered this particular issue until last month. Maybe it’s my luck. I have learned a very important lesson now! I need to read each and every small fine print. And yes, you’re quite right- it helps if we are more polite to the customer reps, else they don’t bother.

    Also, Iam talking of Canadians..which are supposed to be bit polite than Americans I guess ๐Ÿ™‚

    I don’t know about that…haven’t spoken to many Canadians, but I’ve found Americans to be much politer, compared to an average Indian. ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. hey i think that’s a god site…i was redirected to “fox.com”..and i was given a msg
    “We’re sorry, but only the following browsers are supported on your operating system at this time:

    Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 or later
    Mozilla Firefox 1.5 or later

    Please check back soon for support for other browsers.”

    !!!!!!!!!!!

  30. wooo.. long heated discussion.You have a patron dear..its me.
    In the end you won the battle..That’s wat i expect people to do in consumer India.Here we pay Rupees 2 for cooling charges for coke on top of MRP.But people don’t fight for such cause..they think its just 2 bucks so why to worry?
    Such laid back attitude finally culminates in to inferior Quality of service and fooling customers.
    You deserve a pat on your back ..well done and keep it up..As i said in my post…screw them,behave like a king!!

  31. @ nitin:

    Thanks nitin. I don’t know if I won, because I’m still paying $95 on top of $71. But yes, I definitely managed to reduce it from $350 down to $160 something. Even I’d heard of the Rs. 1 cooling thing the last time I was in India. And this is outright loot acc. to me. The bottle has an MRP price! We shouldn’t be paying anything for cooling charges at all. Supposedly, people are getting richer. So nobody cares anymore. Even the beggars won’t take anything under Rs. 5, right?

    Such laid back attitude finally culminates in to inferior Quality of service and fooling customers.

    Yeah! I went to Inox in Calcutta during my last trip and believe it or not, these guys took 10 minutes to give Coke and some popcorn. On top of that, they asked me if I had any change on me! Why should I have change? They’re so lazy and they don’t even want to give me back any extra change. They want the exact amount. I stared at the person behind the counter and he got the message.

    Yes, we need to assert our rights for sure.

  32. lallopallo says:

    Well, as I said, I didnt mind upgrading the plan since I need much more minutes to talk than what I had earlier.

    Ruhi: Oh, I see ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t even use the allotted minutes…

  33. I am sure you would read the fine print if you were buying a house. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Actually I learnt hard way when I signed for this SBI credit card form a representative had filled for me after taking my details. I was shocked to be charged 38000/- on my first credit card bill without even swiping/using it once!

    What had happened that I learnt later was:
    1. I had given them my existing credit card number. They used balance transfer of 18,000/- (I had zero balance on my existing card)without informing me or seeking my permission. And to think of height of inefficiency, they made the entry on my card twice.

    2. That card came with some insurance that I didnt ask for. SBI representative did not even inform me and I signed the form.

    I was newbie then and I filed online complaint after several frustrating long waits at customer care. It was later resolved. Now I read everything I sign. Hard lesson.

  34. @ Poonam Sharma:

    Wow Poonam…Rs. 38,000 is a lot of money! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ How can they do balance transfer without your consent? Plus, how can they add insurance policy without even asking you? Such thiefs! I guess all of us learn from some sort of bad experience…how to read all the terms and conditions. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  35. Yes, it was a lot of sum..so I made several phone calls to customer care. The customer care sucks and the number is not even toll free. I remember waiting for half an hour on phone once. I asked them to cancel my card, even that didn’t work until I made written complaints…Eventually I did not pay a single paise. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Ruhi: Customer service number’s not toll free? Wow! Ask them to pay you for all the money you spent fighting with them! This is so unfair…really. There needs to be a law passed that should make all companies have toll free customer service numbers in India.

  36. yeah, In India only 10% companies have toll-free number…one of my friend was insistent that I write that a law be passed that makes it for all companies to have toll-free customer care number. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Plus wait time on most Indian customer care is 10 times more than American customer cares that run in India. Sad, but true. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    Ruhi: Yes, I know…it’s quite frustrating. Don’t worry…I deal with the Indian customer service even after coming here, thanks to the call centers ๐Ÿ˜‰ Hope you feel better now.

  37. Gail says:

    I have T-mobile also I live in Arizona. I received a incoming call at 8:57 from a friend in Canada we talked for about 45 minutes I was charged for the whole 45 minutes? even when it rolled over into the free after 9pm week nights feature. I have 500 minutes a month plan, so I only ended up paying a extra $4.59 on top of my usual $39.00 monthly bill plus tax is another $10. of course. I switched to Net10 a couple of times but always ends up a nightmare with their smart phones not working plus I have a hard time understanding the language barrier so I go back to T-mobile with no annual contract. I also have owned a magic jack for years, but not always easy being around my computer, but it does work well for long distance never any problems with them.

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