T-Mobile USA’s (aka Deutsche Telekom AG) catch phrase used to be “Get More”, before they dropped it (like so many dropped calls) for their “Stick Together” campaign. Well, now it seems that their next advertising slogan might just be “Pay More”.
We know times are rough. T-Mobile is probably hurting just as much as the rest of us. Evidence the bad news they’ve included in customer’s bills over the last few months. First, they made the decision to charge customers who wanted to continue to receive their call detail on each month’s bill. I believe they are charging $3.00 a month for the privilege of seeing what they are charging you for. Then they decided to charge an additional $1.50 a month for the privilege of getting a paper bill in the mail each month (isn’t it nice to know that T-Mobile is saving the lives of innocent trees). After what must have been a torrent of subscriber defections to other carriers and complaints from customers who didn’t bolt, they dropped their plan to charge for paper bills (but they’re still charging customers who want to see the call detail on their bills). Apparently, T-Mobile decided that trying to milk their customers with yet another new monthly charge was going to cost them more than they would have realized in additional income (see “T-Mobile Customers Demand Traditional Paper Bills” at dailyfinance.com).
T-Mobile’s latest bills have included a strangely vague warning to their customers that they may be paying more for minutes used beyond their calling plan’s allowance. But they don’t tell you how much more they are charging per minute. If you are a T-Mobile subscriber, and you decide to dial 611 to ask them about the rate increase, better do it during the day. T-Mobile used to provide customer service 24 hours a day, but now, if you try calling T-Mobile at night, you’ll get an announcement telling you to call back during the day. That brings to mind another possible advertising slogan T-Mobile might consider… “Pay More, Get Less”.
Why the lack of specifics regarding their rate increase ? (they tell you to check out their website for details) Well, it seems to us that T-Mobile, just in time for Halloween, is trying to scare subscribers into moving to more expensive monthly plans. Is it really necessary to raise what are already exhorbitant per-minute charges if you go over on your plan’s minute allotment. We believe those per-minute charges were already in the range of 40 cents to 60 cents per minute, even before their recent increases.
Those folks at T-Mobile must also think their customers are a bunch of idiots. Here’s how they broke the good news to customers, via an insert in their bills titled “An important message about your additional minutes”…
“T-Mobile is committed to providing you the coverage you need at the price you want. Therefore, it’s important to tell you about a change to ensure you are on the plan that best meets your needs. Starting on September 1st, the price for the minutes you use over the minutes included in your plan will increase for some rate plans. Those rates apply to all additional minutes, including calls to voicemail and call forwarding.”
Don’t you love it how companies always begin their notices of price increases on an upbeat theme ? How about leveling with the customer and starting off with something like “We have some bad news for our most loyal customers” ?
When we first spotted their billing insert, we thought that perhaps T-Mobile was increasing the number of minutes in their calling plans, or perhaps that they were lowering their charge for additional minutes. Unfortunately, it was nothing or the sort, but it is certainly reassuring to know that T-Mobile is so concerned about us. Why then all the secrecy ? Why not just say how much they’re charging for additional minutes, right there on the billing insert ? And the fact of the matter is that they can’t legally raise their rates without notifying their customers. We guess that T-Mobile figures that this indirect method of notifying their customers of a rate increase fulfills their obligation to notify their customers. How lame can you get ?
We wonder what little bit of good news T-Mobile might be planning to stuff into the envelope with your bill, next month. How about charging a fee for speaking with a customer service rep, or charging you $1.00 every time you check how many minutes you have used up. There’s probably dozens of ways they can come up with to squeeze more out of their customers every month.
Long time T-Mobile subscribers might remember the pre-T-Mobile days, and perhaps even the pre-Voicestream days. The T-Mobile U.S. cellular network started it’s life as “Omnipoint”, circa 1996. (Does anybody remember Fred, the Omnipoint parrot ? See Fred in this Omnipoint TV Commercial on Youtube.) One of Omnipoint’s selling points was “No Contract Required”. As any T-Mobile customer can tell you, that is not the case with T-Mobile. But for T-Mobile customers who have fulfilled their contract (and maybe even for those who haven’t), all of T-Mobile’s recent attempts to nickel and dime their customers to death might signal that it is time to move your mobile number to a different network, one that is more customer-friendly, and one that gives it’s subscribers a little more credit for being able to see through a thinly veiled attempt to increase profits. According to this article at cellphonesignal.com, T-Mobile’s decision to increase their per-minute overage charges means that subscribers who are under contract can opt to terminate their contract without incurring an early termination fee (ETF), which just may be the silver lining in this network’s cloud.
Oh, and while we’re on the subject, when is T-Mobile going to bring back Jamie Lee Curtis as it’s spokesmodel ?
– Routing By Rumor