TMobile let an unauthorized person buy a phone on our account
June 29, 2017 9:59 AM   Subscribe

A person who is no relation to us walked into a TMobile store and bought a phone on our account.

My MIL needed a new phone, and instead of calling us and asking us to handle it, asked her (paid, no-relation) caregiver to get her a new phone. So the caregiver walked into a TMobile store and bought a new phone, on our account. She went by herself, not with MIL. She was also talked into upgrading our account, and buying extra insurance protection. Then the phone was scheduled to be shipped to MIL's house. MIL is not named on our account. She has no financial responsibility for our account. No one from TMobile contacted us in person to make sure any of this was authorized.

We found all of this out when I (not the primary account holder, which is my husband) got a text message that the phone was scheduled to be shipped.

So husband has been dealing with this for three months. Called the day that I got the msg and said that we did not order a phone. Told them not to ship it, that we didn't want it. They shipped it to MIL's house, not to our house (she lives 30 miles away). We only found out that the phone had been shipped about a week ago, when a family member was cleaning out MIL's apartment and found it. So the caregiver or property manager signed for it and never told us. We had been under the impression all this time that it had never shipped. All along TMobile has been telling us that it would be credited back, but then every month we get bills with a balance due and finance charges against the amount that was supposed to be credited, and husband has called again to tell them to take the charge off of our account.

At no point whatsoever did anyone at TMobile say "hey, we can provide you a copy of the signature for the delivery of the phone". Not only was the phone charged to our account, but at some point in the middle of all of this, a separate charge was made for the price of the phone to our credit card (which husband has initiated a chargeback on).

Okay, so now we know that our family is in possession of the phone. We'll go get it next week and walk it back into a store. BUT, as far as I'm concerned this is an epic customer service eff-up. I want to know what our recourse is for the fact that they let a store manager bolster their quota by illegally allowing someone to purchase a phone on our account, and for changing our account. Epic, epic eff-up.

As far as the phone service is concerned, I actually like it, so I don't want to leave their service (though I'm not above threatening to do so). What can I reasonably demand for satisfaction of the trouble they have caused, and to lock down our account to ensure that this doesn't happen again?
posted by vignettist to Work & Money (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
All along TMobile has been telling us that it would be credited back, but then every month we get bills with a balance due and finance charges against the amount that was supposed to be credited, and husband has called again to tell them to take the charge off of our account.

I assume you have been taking pretty good records? I'd start by escalating this up the food chain at TMobile with a list of what has been happening and what you expect them to do about it in clear language. Ask to talk to the fraud department. Or send them a fax if you can.

Attn: Fraud Management/FACT
12819 SE 38th Street #89
Bellevue, WA 98006
Fax: (813) 353-6262

- you allowed an unauthorized person to purchase a phone on our account and upgrade our account
- you shipped a phone that we specifically said not to ship
- you have been billing us for this phone and we will not pay

Take down names, promises they've made, ask for timelines of when they'll do the thing. I think moving this to fraud will help kick the ball down the field here.
posted by jessamyn at 10:17 AM on June 29, 2017 [13 favorites]

0. Write everything up in a shared document so that you and your husband can both add to it. Write up what has happened so far with dates and names. Note every new interaction with the company. They have notes on your account, so keep your own version.

1. Return the phone to another location, not the store where it was purchased. While doing so, ask the person who helps you to remove all of the incorrect charges from your bill, go back to the previous plan and to put the account in a locked state. They will have their own name for the lock and procedures to do this, but they will have a way to do it. Be polite but firm that this needs to happen and needs to happen today. Ask for the store manager if the person can't help you. This is to stop the charges.

2. Talk to the fraud department and tell them what happened and to ensure it can't happen again on your account. No one but the two of you are authorized to approve "upgrading our account, and buying extra insurance protection". If you have other adults on the plan, they should only be authorized to change their own phones and not the entire account.

3. You should expect an apology and an explanation of how this will be prevented in the future. They probably can't explain much about how it happened other than to say that their normal security measures were not followed. If the employee is disciplined, they may not be able to tell you that either. Do not expect any kind of extra refund other than the incorrect charges.

4. Once this is all fixed, consider running a test where you have someone try to do the same thing again. If it still happens, consider leaving the company.

5. Get your MIL a prepaid phone if she needs one and set it up so you can manage the account, or at least have access to check it and add money if needed.

The caregiver was out of line here and you should feel okay with letting them know that. Salespeople can be pushy, but them changing your plan was not right, even if adding the phone had been. You know better then me if this is a total deal breaker, a tiny annoyance compared to the great care they provide, or something in between.
posted by soelo at 10:37 AM on June 29, 2017 [4 favorites]

To me, the fact that the phone was shipped to your MIL is not relevant. It was shipped to a person who is not on your account and is not authorized. It is no different than if they shipped it to me. The fact that you have the phone in your possession is a plus for them. At least you are willing to give it back. If they shipped it to someone else, they would never get it back.

Agree with Jessamyn. This is a fraud and should be kicked to that department. Document, stick to the facts, get specific action to be taken by them and time frames. Then follow up.
posted by AugustWest at 10:38 AM on June 29, 2017 [3 favorites]

lock down our account to ensure that this doesn't happen again?

It looks like you have good answers here, so I wanted to touch on this issue. Our family T-Mobile account is secured with the SSN of the primary account holder, my mother. Is it possible that the primary account holder for you is your spouse, and your MIL knows their SSN?

As long as I can give T-Mobile the last 4 of my mother's SSN, as far as I can tell I have free reign. Which is actually kind of strange. I admittedly never tried buying anything, but I have made substantial service changes that resulted in additional charges being added to the bill.

In the past T-Mobile has been a little inconsistent for us about requiring an an answer to a "secret question" - my mother's maid of honor's name, I think - but you may be able to either change the account holder's information or get some sort of additional security check placed on your account.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 10:55 AM on June 29, 2017 [5 favorites]

Follow jessamyn's advice. IF that doesn't work too - and really it should - then I'd bring a small claims case to demand a refund of the unauthorized billing to your account.
posted by bearwife at 11:43 AM on June 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

I see you've already done a chargeback on the phone, but I would say that in addition to all the above advice, you can, and should, also dispute all of the other invalid charges with your credit card company. Even if TMobile ends up reversing them, you need to get your disputes in within the time window (probably 90 days). Any credit card company will take your side in a matter like this, and it's a very effective way to handle any questionable charges.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 2:26 PM on June 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

I actually like it, so I don't want to leave their service

Absolutely threaten to leave T-Mobile unless they make you right. The only time I've ever won an argument with them is when I threatened to leave, at which point they moved me over to the Loyalty Department and gave me someone who could actually fix things.

You want the Loyalty Department.
posted by suelac at 2:33 PM on June 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

In addition to the good advice above, I will point out that when I had a problem with T-Mobile and was getting nowhere with customer service, I contacted @TMobileHelp on Twitter and they were much more responsive.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:10 PM on June 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks y'all. We've been traveling so I'm going to give them a call today. I wasn't really aware of the existence of either a specific Fraud department, nor a Loyalty department, so I'll start there and update with what works, and hopefully good news.
posted by vignettist at 7:18 AM on July 7, 2017

« Older Greece Trip on Short Notice with 3 Kids   |   Baby head bonking Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.