“Stick Together” - The Irony is coming - read on!!
I can’t believe it!!! Over the past few months I’ve launched a blog all about the power and value of the customer voice in the web 2.0 world. I’ve blogged about and read dozens of stories from “Dell Hell” to the more recent Digg / HD DVD controversy which tell powerful stories of customer “web-swarming” on bad service experiences. I’ve been reading Word of Mouth Marketing, Citizen Marketers, and The Influentials. Suffice it to say, I’m alert to the issues. Even still, I never dreamed I’d have my own experience that so infuriated me that I’d be compelled to write the story…so here goes. This is a little long…but please read it!!
A quick search online tells me I’m hardly alone in my frustration with T-Mobile, but I simply have to tell this story. A few weeks ago my phone (T-Mobile Dash pictured below) developed a problem. I’ve had this phone for several months, and was quickly a big fan of the features, form factor, even the battery life I thought was good. I’ve always been pretty neutral on the carrier - in the end, as long as I have quality coverage at a reasonable price, I don’t really care. T-Mobile changed that for me today…
So, here is the back story. I fully use the functions of this phone (calling, texting, web, calendar/email/contact synchronization). To be honest, calendar & contact sync are the most critical functions after just dialing the darn thing. (Ok, yes…I have synchronized my phone from a bathroom - I admit it!!) Well, a few weeks ago, my connection to the net failed. Now, I still had full functions of calling/texting - but anything else through the network failed. ACK!! I’m lucky enough to have some mobile device experts around who tried to solve - no luck. What follows is the basic course of events, emotions and details leading up to today’s call. This history is not exact as I never dreamed I’d try to recall it all later for my blog - but it is darn close!
Dial Customer service, machine asks me to enter my mobile #, ok. Machine asks me what I’m calling about? “Support.” Ok. Machine will transfer me to an agent. Please verify who I am with last 4 digits of your social. Ok. Ring. “Hello” - I’m at the agent. I start to explain my problem. Agent asks me for my mobile #. (What? I just gave that). Ok. Agent asks me for the last 4 #’s of my social. (What? I just gave that). Ok, whatever, fine. I explain my problem (after also verifying my name…yes, you can call me “Sean.” A little light trouble shooting, some info gathering. No good. Then: “Oh, you are trying to synchronize your email. You should call your IT dept.” NO. I know that is not the issue, if I can’t get to the web, my IT dept is not the issue - don’t refer me somewhere else. “Oh, ok. Let me put you through to our support dept.” My first reminder that I’m not there already - I should know better. Hold. Hold. Hold. Warm transfer to another person. “Hi Sean, can I call you Sean?” Yes. “Sean, can you verify with me your mobile #?” (WHAT!!). Fine. Troubleshooting starts. Lots of this, then that. No solution, but good effort. Problem…over an hour has passed. I say I must go (appointment) and will call back. Ok, here’s the ticket #. (Damn - what a waste of my time!)
Call #2 (a few days later - like you, I have other responsibilities other than chasing stuff like this)
Dial Customer service, machine asks me to enter my mobile #, ok. Machine asks me what I’m calling about? “Support.” Ok. Machine will transfer me to an agent. Please verify who I am with last 4 digits of your social. Ok, but frustration starting. Ring. “Hello” - I’m at the agent. I say “hi, I have a trouble ticket I’m following up on.” Agent: “Ok, let me get a little information first.” Agent asks me for my mobile #. (What? Here we go again!). Ok. Agent asks me for the last 4 #’s of my social. (AHHHHHHHH!). Ok, whatever, fine. Agent verifies my name…yes, you can call me “Sean.” 15-20 minutes has passed and NO VALUE ADDED! Ok, let me get you to the support dept. Hold. Hold. Hold. Warm transfer to another person. “Hi Sean, can I call you Sean?” (Guess what I’m thinking here!). And then it happens…yup, you guessed it: “Sean, can you verify with me your mobile #?” (I’m now officially very mad - but calm). Troubleshoot starts. I explain we did that before, yes, that too, yes, that too. On hold. Hold. Hold. “Ok, Sean. It looks like your SIM card has failed. You’ll need to go into a T-Mobile store and have it replaced. Damn. OK …bye. (Damn - what a waste of my time!)
T-Mobile store (a few days later - like you I have….)
This was easy (process wise, but took more that 2 hrs away from office time). Last word at the store: “You’ll need to give the network a few hours to reset (or something) and then it should work fine. I wait a few hours. No good. I wait a day. No good. I wait 2 days. No good. At this point, I almost prefer the problem to facing another support call…wait another few days. (Damn - what a waste of my time!)
Call #3 (this is at least 7-10 days after the problem starts - you know, like you I have other responsibilities too)
Dial Customer service. Guess what…EVERYTHING I did in call #2 happens again. EVERYTHING! Finally, I’m put through to “Advanced Tech Support.” Ok, now I’m getting somewhere: “Advanced!”. Troubleshooting starts. Try this…try that. No good. Sean, we are going to have to have someone else work on this, the issue is clearly somewhere in the network. We will have someone call you back on this case. WHAT?? Ok, fine. I’m worn out…they’ve beat the life and fight out of me. (Damn - what a waste of my time!)
Phone messages: (like you, I have other responsibilities too….get my theme)
At least 3-4 days pass and I get a voicemail from T-Mobile advanced support. A few instructions and please call us back. I have no time and honestly no energy to deal. I have a business trip I take. I note a few more messages from them. Ok, props for chasing me a bit - I’m glad they did that.
Call #4: (I finally had a ”free” hour in my schedule to call support. Reminder T-Mobile: Every hour I spend with you is an hour away from either my job or my family - I am not available at all times - oh, and by the way, I am the customer).
Here we go again…Everything in call #2 happens…again…everything…everything…ahhhhhhhhhh….please kill me. Fine, I was ready for this waste of time. Finally: “Ok, Sean, let me put you on hold and transfer you to “advanced tech support.” Ok. Agent comes back. I’m sorry Sean, they closed the case as resolved because you didn’t call back. “RESOLVED?” I said. Yes, I understand Sean. Are you still having the problem? (Uh, no, I just called to share my mobile # and social 4 more times!) “Yes, I still need help.” Ok, let me try them again. Hold. Agent comes back. I’m sorry Sean, it seems they won’t take the call until I create a new Ticket #. “Whatever, ok.” # created. Ok, please hold again and I will get them on the line. Hold. Agent comes back. Sean, “I’m sorry, they won’t take the call unless I perform troubleshooting again, I know this is not a good situation.” Me: “I won’t do that.” Agent: “I understand, let me try again and I will add my supervisor to the call if I get stuck with them (note this word). Hold. Agent comes back. “I’m sorry Sean, they will not take the call without trouble shooting. What is the # I can call you on in 15minutes? She then makes it clear that we are just going to “fake” the troubleshooting, but I must be on the phone in another call to verify we did it. Me: “NO, I will not do that. Please let me talk to your supervisor.” Supervisor: “Yes, Sean, this is just what we have to do.” Same “fake-it” routine. Me: “I cannot believe this? Why are you so disempowered?” Supervisor: “I’m sorry sir, this is just the best way to deal with them.” Me: “I can’t believe you are so powerless in this to solve the problem. Who is your supervisor? ” (She says Robert Dotson: the CEO). Me: “That’s just not true, your boss is not the CEO.” Awkward silence. She shares her frustration. I say: “If it’s that bad, you should quit! How can you work in a place like that??” She says: “sometimes I think about quitting.” Then, back to the task, “sean, can I just have the agent call you back so we can handle this? Me: “NO! I won’t do that. This is not my problem, this is your problem. Now you want to take time from my family on another call. NO.” Supervisor: “I understand, what do you want me to do? You don’t really have any other option here.” Me: “Don’t have an option? Hah. I can drop you as a service provider.” Supervisor: “Yes, you could do that.” This was maybe the most depressing part of the call. She really didn’t care. And it was clearly not because she’s a bad person but because she has given up on her own employer. I actually felt sorry for her. I couldn’t yell at her. I said goodbye.
“Stick Together” - These poor employees aren’t even stuck to their company/service - and they are the face of the company. Why should customer stick? Goodbye T-Mobile. Now I write to cleanse…I’ll leave it at that. I was stunned.
Who would like to add to this? Does this story feel familiar? Please DIGG this story. Please link this story.
One more comment on the inner workings of a “citizen marketer.” I hated wasting all my personal time on the phone. I have passionately enjoyed spending the last hour or more writing this to publish. Look at all the energy going to the negative.
ADDED 6/20: For the record, I’ve been a CS agent in the past, I know what it’s like. While at the end I spoke very directly to the supervisor, I never raised my voice. Was never confrontational. I certainly never uttered a single expletive (unlike some of the clever responses here from a few of you passionate readers). Yes, I drew a line at the end on where I was done jumping through hoops and was clear about that. I certainly regret if anyone here has the impression from my post that I was irate to the agent who was following policy. I was certainly upset with TMobile - but I can distinguish the company from the people involved. The problem with my phone “appears” to now be solved. I have a followup call with TMobile scheduled to validate a few things. Once complete, I will post back here what the problem was and what the resolution was. I certainly credit TMobile for taking responsibility for solving the problem, sharing openly with me what the process issue (break) was on their end and their intent to address it. In the end, all I want is for the device to work (no refund, no credit, don’t care…just make it work).
del.icio.us tags: Tmobile, support, nightmares, casestudy
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