Gigantic T-Mobile overage charges and billing errors, oh my!
September 20, 2005 12:00 PM   Subscribe

I (unfortunately) have a mobile phone with T-Mobile service.

I've been through hell and back with them this past year on 2 separate issues. One of them was resolved through the BBB; the second is a billing error that they refuse to acknowledge and essentially, it becomes my word against theirs, and we all know how that ends up with corporations. To explain it in the simplest terms: they changed my minute plan upon my request, but the catch was it was not supposed to take effect until 10/4 when my contract was up. Unfortunately, they changed it on the day I had requested it rather than post dating it to the end of the contract (the agent I spoke to assured me this was possible). This billing error leaves me with overage charges to the tune of $300+ that I frankly can't afford and do not want to pay, especially since I used less minutes this month than I did last and am being charged nearly quadruple the cost. My questions to you fine people are the following:

1) Is there any possible way I can get this error fixed by the company? I have been through 2 levels of customer service and have not had success.
2) If I cannot, what are the odds that if I make another BBB complaint (which would be my second within a calendar year against the same company) that it would be resolved? I am afraid if I make the complaint they will dismiss it since I already made one on another issue.
3) If I ultimately have no luck with either course of action, I will simply not pay the disputed portion of the bill; from my past experience this year I know that T-Mobile’s collection agency, Bay Area Credit, does not report to the three major bureaus. If they don’t report, presumably this could never reach my credit report, right? Or not?

Thanks for any feedback you can offer me. I am just truly sick of fighting with this particular company.
posted by Emperor Yamamoto's Eggs to Work & Money (10 answers total)
Is the $300 because of Early Termination Fee (ETF)? That shouldn't be the case since you are still with T-Mobile. Based on what I have seen work, you could write a letter to T-Mobile's CEO, and mention your situation and how your request was not carried out properly, so therefore the error is not your fault. Then take it from there.

Also if you remember what day you called customer service to have your plan changed at the end of the contract, mention date and time, you can easily look it up via your T-Mobile bill, just hunt for the call to 611. If you remember the name of the rep. who promised to make the changes as requested, you're golden. If not at least you can ask them to review their records, etc.

Be firm.
posted by riffola at 12:36 PM on September 20, 2005

Oh and please be polite, just remember that being polite and calm yet firm will get your work done faster.
posted by riffola at 12:46 PM on September 20, 2005

In my experience T-Mobile has been pretty good about customer service, sorry to hear you are having a problem. I actually liked that they would implement changes mid-billing cycle, but as this is their standard method of doing things (so long as you resign your contract effective that day of course!) I can see why they may have mistakenly (or purposely?) changed you immediately.

I switched to Cingular due to coverage issues, not to customer service problems with T-Mobile. I would keep calling and working your way up the chain. Ask for a supervisor, ask for that person's supervisor, and for God's sake get names and call-back numbers for reps that you speak with. 99% of the time they record those conversations, "for training purposes" right? If you know who you spoke with they might have a record of the conversation.

I know that the T-Mobile people put notes and flags on accounts when requests or complaints are made. If a note was added to your acct. not to change it until later, they may have a record of this in the system whether they acknowledge it or not.

I don't think asking the BBB about it is a bad idea, even if you have already said something. Multiple complaints may be taken more seriously than the occasional issue, as it suggests a bigger widespread problem with the company.
posted by caution live frogs at 12:59 PM on September 20, 2005

Response by poster: riffola: Thanks for the reply. I am going to write this letter you suggest. I fortunately did write down the day and time I did this, because I received a text message from them when the change was supposedly complete. I do not, however, have the name of the rep. I gave them the info on the phone about what day and I was told "since there is nothing in the notes field about this there is nothing we can do". I've been a customer of theirs since 1997 and I have not had a problem until this year; I guess it is my luck that I get 2 agents in a row who made changes to my account that were not *quite* what I had asked for, and huge bills ensued.
posted by Emperor Yamamoto's Eggs at 12:59 PM on September 20, 2005

If you end up having to refuse payment you should consult the boards over at Art of Credit for how to deal most successfully with the collection agency when they start calling.

My experiences with T-Mo's customer support were always horrendous; was the worst year of my cellular customer life. Good luck.
posted by phearlez at 1:05 PM on September 20, 2005

And just remember, it could be worse: you could have someone besides T-Mobile.
posted by kindall at 1:19 PM on September 20, 2005

Not to derail, but why were you changing to a minute plan -- by your own choice -- that is clearly more expensive for you? Or was there some event that was to take place that would reduce phone usage, but not until the date you'd expected?
posted by dhartung at 4:32 PM on September 20, 2005

dhartung... sounds like he was changing to a plan with fewer minutes than he previously had and cheaper, too, but counted on the change not going through until the date he requested. When T-Mo jumped the gun, he found out that he had used more minutes than his 'new' plan allowed for, but not more minutes than his 'old' plan had. Am I right, Emperor Yamamoto's Eggs?

I had the exact same problem with T-Mo. I bumped my minutes up really high for a while, then wanted to reduce the plan down to something more reasonable. I called to inquire about how to handle this. Just an inquiry, mind you. I was seeking information prior to making a decision. Well, you guessed it. The CSR changed my plan to one with the fewest allowable minutes, no evening minutes, and no free weekends. Gak! I was in hock to T-Mo for a bazillion dollars.

I called. I squalked. I sputtered. I almost screamed. I did have the name of the rep who gave me the information, the date and time I called, and copious notes about the various plans I had discussed. Eventually, I got T-Mo to cancel all of the overage charges, and reinstate my plan back to pre-confusion status.

I still want to change my plan to one with fewer minutes, thus easier on the budget, but I'm ascared... the chances that they will screw things up is too great. I'm just waiting until my contract is up. If they want to keep me, I'll expect to be wined and dined. I kinda have to stay with T-Mo, since my family and work are all with them.

Emperor Yamamoto's Eggs: Be resolute. Do not back down. It was their error, and they will eventually acknowledge it, if only to avoid talking to you again. Write letters. Definitely contact BBB - that's what they are there for. If your local TV or radio stations have a consumer watchdog department, give them a try. Good luck.
posted by Corky at 6:30 AM on September 21, 2005

Response by poster: Corky: you are exactly right (except I am a she). Hah.

I was planning on dropping down to a more limited plan after my contract was up 10/4. I'm having a kid in November and I was planning on dropping my usage because my work is giving me a phone to use when I am on leave. I was on a 1000 minute plan which I would generally use about 800 of prior to the change, where I asked to drop down to a 300 minute plan on 10/4. I waited until my contract was up to change because when I tried to make this plan change earlier in the year, I was told I would need to extend my contract to do it (which I just don't want to do considering the track record I have with them this year). I used about 700 minutes this month, thinking that I was still on the 1000 until the next billing cycle. 700 is way more than 300 so you can see where I got socked.

I'm going to call them again today and calmly try to explain all this. I have to block out some time because I always hold forever. I'll update the thread if I get anywhere (or nowhere).
posted by Emperor Yamamoto's Eggs at 6:53 AM on September 21, 2005

Response by poster: None of this worked, but thanks for the help anyway guys. Three months later I am still fighting with T-Mobile and I've just given up. They "don't see any reason to issue a credit because there is no information in my notes regarding my initial request". My credit is crappy anyway so if they do not give me any satisfaction through the better business bureau I am just not going to pay it. Mefites, never deal with T-Mo unless you must, their agents are dimwits.
posted by Emperor Yamamoto's Eggs at 12:12 PM on December 3, 2005

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