Most of us have a cell phone and many of us have smart phones. If we have had these for awhile, we understand 2 year contracts and upgrades. For example, the approximate cost of a new iPhone 5s is approximately $649.00 for 16GB (gigabyte) of storage for an unlocked phone. So a new contract or an upgrade is about $199.00. The full price of the phone is absorbed over the two years under contract.
I have an iPhone 4s and my wife Susan, HAD another smartphone. She had problems with it shutting down all the time, so she called customer service and they sent her a new phone with a return box for the old phone, which she promptly shipped back. Then she received confirmation that the old phone was received, BUT they said it had water damage, so she would be charged for the new phone. After days and weeks and representative after representative, they would allow her to return the new phone. She then had to purchase an older model ‘dumb’ phone on Ebay and we downgraded her data plan. This was inconvenient, but Susan decided to just deal with it for awhile because, we were eligible for upgrades the 28th of the Month of February, 2014. Then she was notified that they did not receive the new phone back ON TIME. They had the phone, but according to them, it was not sent on time. So, we were billed for the new phone that she no longer had.
After days and weeks and representative after representative, Susan had done everything she was told to do. This person said this, that person said that, this was wrong and that person was not authorised to say/do that or no one ever followed through with what Susan was told. You get the idea, this was a huge mess! FINALLY, the new phone was taken off our bill.
We were told that we could upgrade early (about a week before our contract ended). We are leaving the country on 2-26-14, would not be in this country on our upgrade date and we wanted to take and use our new phones while on our trip.
On 2/13/14, I called a corporate store of our carrier to give them the details of our situation and to set up an appointment so we could upgrade early. As it happened, the person I spoke with on the phone, was the store manager. If anyone was knowledgeable of company policies, surely it would be him! He was, BUT what he told us was not what we were told by corporate customer service. Our only choices were:1. to get some other phone we did not want, pay $27.00 per month and trade them in later, for what we wanted when we return to the ‘states.’ 2. keep our existing phones and plan until we return to the ‘states’ 3. Pay an early termination fee, for both our phones and switch carriers
By the way, Susan’s early termination fee would not be based on the ‘dumb’ phone she owns and has right now, but on the smart phone she no longer has, because it was returned to the carrier, months ago. Why? Because that is the contract we signed.
Needless to say, Susan had HAD IT! She was livid! She was so angry when she left the house to go and babysit 3 of the grand kids, I was concerned for others on the road that might cross her path! 😦
Susan was definitely ready to go to another carrier! I called one and explained our situation, wants and needs. They would be able to help us with everything we wanted and needed and would even pay us back for any early termination fees, charged to us by our current carrier. First, to change carriers, I needed to find out what our early terminations fees would be.
So I called our carrier and reached an automatic messaging system. I was given several choices to choose from including, ‘other.’ I chose ‘other.’ After to being asked to state my question, I responded with, “Early termination.” I was so quickly connected to a live person, it almost made me dizzy! 🙂
I was connected to a ‘real person’ in the ‘Customer Retention Department.’ And she really spoke my language very clearly. The lady was extremely nice and professional. She pulled up all our files and could see every single note and name of person, the dates and every call made by us or from them to us, about our situation. She apologised profusely, for all the confusion. I will give the carrier this, they certainly did document everything! The problems lie in different policies from the corporate office, from a corporate store and from failure to follow-up by anyone that we had spoken to in customer service previously. Based on perhaps 100’s to 1,000’s of calls each person might make in a given day, it is quite easily to become overwhelmed or to easily forget one call as you move to the next one. And I suppose it is easy to overlook the notes on your screen too.
But, as this all turned out, we were able to upgrade early, get the phones we wanted and needed and are happily signed on, for another 2 year contract with the same carrier we have been loyal to, for years. We had never really had a problem before this. So, we are all happy now and waiting on our new phones to arrive by FedEx around Tuesday next, with a promise call the same day, from the same lady that helped us. Once the phones are in , we will just need to call and activate them and all our data, pictures, apps, contacts and etc. will be instantly transferred to the new devices. We are now, just waiting on fulfillment of these promises, but at this moment, I have no doubt that they will be.
So what is the point of this long post? What could it mean to you? First, I’m not sure how many devices you may or may not own? But for us, we have three. I’m not sure what you pay monthly, for just your one phone, but again, we have 2 smart phones, and a MIFI . A MIFI is a portable WIFI hotspot device so we can use our laptop and un-tethered 1st generation iPad, for Internet access if we are traveling and/or not able to connect to a FREE WIFI hot spot. So, just remember that no matter what you may pay for one device each month, multiply that amount X three for comparison. This amounts to 1,000’s of dollars per year to the carrier.
If you find yourself in a similar situation as we were or if you are having problems with your carrier, call them up and if asked or prompted, tell them you are considering changing carriers and you want to know what your early termination fees would be. If you have not already called ‘Customer Retention,’ I am quite confident that you will quickly be connected!!! They really don’t want to loose your business. Well maybe they might not care if all you mean to them is a few hundred dollars, but our 1,000’s certainly got their attention! I’ll go back to the last statement – “They really don’t want to lose your business!” If not from a monetary value, then at least from a public relations point of view. Sad, but true, complaints sometimes are louder than praise!
Please understand, our motivation was NOT to ‘guilt’ our carrier into giving us what we wanted/needed. Our motivation was NOT to intimidate our carrier that if they didn’t do what we wanted/needed, we were going to another carrier. Our motivation was NOT to get something for nothing or anything special! All we wanted/needed was, what we want and need. Thankfully, it looks like what we want and need will come from our existing carrier. I just received a text confirmation (while writing this post) on my existing phone, that our new phones have been shipped and are scheduled for delivery on Tuesday, as promised!
The numbers to customer retention may not be published, known to you or readily available from your carrier, BUT THEY HAVE ONE or MORE!!! Just call customer service and tell them you are interested in cancelling your service or you are just wanting to know what your early termination fees would be. Make sure you use or say the words in red, bold italicised text as above. I can almost guarantee you will be, almost instantly connected to a live person in your language, at the corporate office and customer retention.
“Hello, Customer Retention, Where Happy Customers Stay Happy Customers! How May I help you?”
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