Answer: T-Mobile shouldn’t charge you for a service it can’t provide. Even though it doesn’t explicitly say so in its contract, it’s common sense: if T-Mobile can’t deliver a service it promised, you shouldn’t have to pay for it.
(Note: I’m not a lawyer and have no expertise in contract law. But this much I do know — you didn’t get the service you signed up for, the contract isn’t worth the paper on which it’s printed.)
I’m actually troubled by the T-Mobile contract, because it tries to convince you that even if it doesn’t provide a consistent service, you’re still bound by it. It also waives your right to a jury trial and forces you to accept the ruling of an arbitrator, in case you have a dispute with it. In other words, this contract gives T-Mobile the right to do pretty much whatever it wants.
But even if its lawyers can argue that you still owe a $200 early termination fee for canceling phone service that doesn’t work, that doesn’t change the fact that a T-Mobile representative offered to waive the penalty.
The next time someone does that, get a name and extension, and ask that person to put it in writing. Had you done that, this would be an open-and-shut case.
The whole business about there not being anyone you can contact is nonsense. T-Mobile is in the communication business, and its executives can easily be found online. If your email through its website doesn’t yield results, try emailing the execs directly. They use two email naming conventions at T-Mobile: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
I contacted T-Mobile on your behalf. Unfortunately, before this could be resolved, you received another bill from T-Mobile which suggested it might take the bill to a collection agency. Rather than risk that, and without first consulting with me, you paid the cancellation fee and dropped the matter.
This was not the resolution I was hoping for and I’m very disappointed.
Update: After I wrapped up this case, I heard from T-Mobile. Here’s what it told me:
After a comprehensive review of local T-Mobile coverage in her area, we have determined that she did, in fact, have good network coverage.
T-Mobile has respectfully declined her request to waive the early termination fee associated with her account.