Mobilizing T-Mobile

For years, I faithfully defended myself.

“Hey, I like what it provides. I’m not going to give up a good thing,” I’d protest without caring what others thought of me. I was called naïve, behind the times, and a fool.

Today, I am admitting defeat.

I’m giving up on T-Mobile. Over the past few weeks, T-Mobile Sidekick users have been dealing with an onslaught of horrible services – being in full coverage but not sending/receiving, and seeing its “fetch e-mail” feature disabled, to name two. (And I know it’s actually Danger who provides the service for Sidekicks. Doesn’t matter to me.)

A bit about the feature I like the most on my Sidekick 3: users can set up POP accounts on your Sidekick to be “retrieved from” their e-mail servers every 20 to 30 minutes or so. In the past, because this 20-minute interval was too slow, I manually retrieved my e-mail by pressing MENU + U. About two months ago, I suddenly couldn’t do this anymore, so I called T-Mobile. They said it was a server issue on their end, and it would be fixed within a week. That was two months ago.

Last Saturday, I called again. Without this feature, it’s difficult for me to run my company when I’m away from the computer. Every customer representative I spoke with did not understand what this feature was, then denied it was down and insisted it was a coverage issue, and then claimed it was limited to my house only when I mentioned that my husband was unable to access his Gmail account on his pager like he had in the past. Never mind that every out-of-state friend who uses this feature is having the same problem.

After an hour and half and countless “Please hold while I check on that” responses, the (supposedly) top-tier supervisor said, “We do not guarantee the POP e-mail feature. We only guarantee the tmail address, the AIM program, and the other buttons on your screen. But for additional accounts you set up on your own, we do not guarantee this.” When I asked to have the contract termination fee removed ($200, folks), given that T-Mobile was not performing to the level I was paying for, the supervisor repeated, “We do not guarantee…”

When I talked with other Sidekick users, they had the same problem. “But we’re stuck in our contracts,” they said, “and we just have to wait it out.” I thought I’d do the same, even though my contract doesn’t expire until August 2008.

But then I got to thinking. Didn’t T-Mobile cater to deaf people in the past, given that we were their largest specialized customer base? There used to be T-Mobile representatives at every deaf event. When I was living in Chicago, there was even a local T-Mobile representative exclusive to the deaf community. Where are they these days? And why aren’t we doing anything about this terrible service from T-Mobile? Why are we simply calling T-Mobile (in a few cases) and asking for credit, sometimes without success? Why aren’t we mobilizing a letter-writing or some kind of e-mail campaign? Are we simply too lazy or do we think we’re too unimportant?

I did a Google search to see if I was the only one having frustrations. I found quite a few websites, but what amazed me was that T-Mobile has “catapulted to the top of J.D. Power’s rankings of customer care in the wireless industry. It has now won the biannual title six times in a row,” says this article.

Sure, T-Mobile representatives are obviously well-trained in customer service – they always say, “Can I call you Trudy? How are you today, Trudy?” But that means diddly-squat to me when they don’t know what they’re talking about. Case in point: last Saturday’s call, when I went through four or five representatives who had no clue, even though the ‘fetch e-mail’ feature is in the instructions, on the Internet and listed in the menu on the pager itself. Besides, I know I’m not the only one who has called about their ridiculously slow service the past few months. So why hasn’t anything changed? Why is this still happening? Why hasn’t anything been posted on DeafRead or on blogs in order to try and get this fixed?

Deaf people are among T-Mobile’s most valuable customers, and T-Mobile must realize that pagers for deaf people are crucial.For me, my Sidekick is quite literally is a lifeline, given that I have my first child due in the next three weeks. Because of T-Mobile’s unreliable service, my husband and I have had to set up alternate communication methods in case we’re not together when labor starts.

T-Mobile needs to get its act together for its Sidekick users, but first, we Sidekick users need to get our act together in mobilizing some kind of campaign demanding better services. Otherwise, we have no right to complain about shelling out money every month for sub-par performance.

So, who wants to start?

How to send a letter or e-mail to T-Mobile:

Customer Relations
PO Box 37380
Albuquerque, NM 87176-7380

They also list a TTY number and other contact methods.

© Copyrighted material, used by permission. This article can not be copied, reproduced, or redistributed without the express written consent of the author.