Question: I recently canceled my T-Mobile contract due to lack of coverage in my home neighborhood. I have tried to resolve the issue many times.
The first three or four customer support representatives told me that I was in an excellent service area and that the problem was T-Mobile’s and would be fixed within 72 hours. I called back after 72 hours and escalated the request to a manager, who told me that I was in a very low coverage area and that the only resolution to the problem would be for T-Mobile to build more towers. As you can imagine, this was very frustrating.
When I called to cancel my contract, I was assured by a customer service representative that I would not be charged the $200 early termination fee, since T-Mobile was not able to provide the coverage that they agreed to when I signed up for their service. I didn’t ask for the name or extension of the representative I spoke with who told me I wouldn’t be charged.
Now I’m being charged $200.
I called T-Mobile and asked to speak to the woman whose name was on the letter I received. I was told the person didn’t have a phone number and that I would need to continue to call the same customer support number but would most likely be unable to speak to that person.
I asked if I might be given the phone number of the corporate office so that I might seek resolution from a person with more authority to resolve this issue. I was told that there was no phone number for the corporate offices and that she could not give me an email address of anyone to contact.
Seriously? A telecommunications company can’t connect you with anyone who will help and not just read a script? Help! — Bonnie Kangas, Prairie Village, Kan.
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.