Well, it happens every now and again. You get “bad” customer support and you have to take matters into your own hands. My target today? VoiceStream. Now, before I get into this debacle, the people at VoiceStream have been great. It’s my frustration with their technical support information (or lack there of) that is the problem. The people have done everything that they have been allowed to do – their management gives them some “scripts” and “suggested actions” and that’s all they have to work with, so I don’t fault them.
[this was originally written for VoiceStream, who has since been renamed T-Mobile – since the gripes expressed here still apply, I opted to give the new named company credit for their issues!]
Well, it happens every now and again. You get “bad” customer support and you have to take matters into your own hands. My target today? T-Mobile. Now, before I get into this debacle, the people at T-Mobile have been great. It’s my frustration with their technical support information (or lack there of) that is the problem. The people have done everything that they have been allowed to do – their management gives them some “scripts” and “suggested actions” and that’s all they have to work with, so I don’t fault them. Here the deal:
I’ve been on T-Mobile (T-M) for about two years now. They are a GSM based carrier – that means there’s a little SIM chip in the phone that stores your information and your phonebook, so when you buy a new GSM phone, you put your chip in the new phone and *boing* that handset is now using your phone number and your phonebook list. Makes upgrading the phones a dream because it’s very easy to do and technologically, they phones are designed to do this. Also, world phones are almost always GSM because Europe and Asia use the same type of carrier, but on a different frequency – the world phones support all 3, making it work almost everywhere. I’ve called a co-worker on his 914 number and it rang around the world to Hong Kong; neat shit! Why do I stress the almost everywhere of “world coverage” up there? I have a world phone currently – it will work everywhere in the world except southern Connecticut and New York!
As I’ve said, I’ve been on T-M for almost two years. When I first signed up, service was rather spotty but I knew it was supposed to get better, so I waited. About 9 or 10 months ago, one day while in Monroe, my phone started showing five out of five bars for coverage; they turned on a new cell tower in Trumbull that bombarded the area with signal. Trumbull, Monroe, Bridgeport, Easton, Newtown, Shelton – all of these areas that had been one bar on a good day, were now with three-five bars of coverage. Randy was happy! Until about three weeks ago: coverage dropped off by about 90%.
Those of you that know me know that when I find some good techno-goodie thingy, I push it to everyone I know… the whole “share the wealth” concept. My sister jumped on this bandwagon with me, with a Nokia 8290 and was loving T-M for the last six months or so. That was, until the drop off. See, it effected her phone too. I talked to some other co-workers that are on T-M and they noticed the same thing! So what does that mean to you? To me, it means someone hiccup’d on a tower and something is broken. Logical right? So my sister and I pop into a T-M store and see what they’ve heard.
While spending 45 minutes at a local T-M store, we were told by one salesperson that she read an e-mail about “AT&T causing problems with some customers in CT while they start using T-M towers, about three weeks ago”. Seems that while AT&T (and Cingular) are rolling out their GSM-based network (they are upgrading, nationwide) they are bumping some T-M customers from time to time. But they go on to tell me that the problems I’m having aren’t what they said in the e-mail – OK. While I walk around the store, I watch my coverage go from one to five bars – no lie! I show this to them. Tell them the whole story. Must be my SIM, because their phones are all fine. Well, the Ericsson t68 (which I use) and the Nokia 8290 both have relatively weak antennae – but that doesn’t matter because we used to have good service and now we don’t. If it had sucked all along, maybe they have a case, but sorry – it was good and now isn’t. “Oh” was the response to that. So we get on the phone with tech support, and the nationwide level. Twice, because we got disconnected the first time we called. I end up talking to them directly because the sales rep had had enough fun for one day – understandible, that! First words out of the CSR’s mouth on the phone: Do you want to upgrade your phone? Bad, bad move. After telling her that not only is my phone is just three months old, I remind her that it’s more advanced than anything T-M currently sells but as they plan to sell the t68i this summer not to feel bad. See, this is like when you’re a car mechanic and you bring your car into someone else’s garage for repairs and they tell you that “it would be better if you bought this new car” and forget the car you brought in. Flies about as well as a constructionly-misplaced-brick in NYC – straight down and with great speed. I was also told that “Power Cycling” my phone twice a day would help – I retorted that in three years of working with GSM devices (since I do this for a living) I’ve never heard of such a thing and again, I haven’t had to do that before for good service.
The moral of the story is that there’s a problem with the towers in Connecticut and parts of southern New York. I had the CSR open a service call for my mobile number – I’m asking anyone with a VoiceStream phone in the area, that if you’ve also had problems, to call into them with the same issues. 611 is a free call from your cell phone, but you do need coverage to call it, so it might not be easy. The two problems I site is a drastic drop of overall coverage in the area of Stamford to New Haven, and the fact that I can jump from no signal to full signal by standing in the same place and watching the meter. I believe AT&T may have whacked something out of working order while playing with their cells, but T-M has to figure out how to fix it on their own. And believe me, with AT&T and Cingular both switching to GSM services… T-M, you’ve got some competition finally, so you had better get your act together soon!