UnCarrier is Uncool

by Colin Berkshire

T-Mobile is no longer the un-carrier. John Legere the inspired rule-breaking maverick executive that led T-Mobile from being a broken down jalopy to the industry leading cellular company is gone.

The suit-and-tie folks are now fully back in charge and they are putting their MBA skills to immediate use. (And you know that the measure of whether an MBA is doing a good job is how badly customers hate the company.)

When T-Mobile courted the federal government to approved the take-over of Sprint, one of the promises was that they wouldn’t lay off employees. Well, hundreds of Sprint employees are being laid off en masse and by surprise.

One of the little pieces lost in the negotiations was that when T-Mobile promised to increase staffing, they didn’t quite clarify that this would be in the Philippines. Now, when you call T-Mobile customer service (the post-sales group) you will be greeted by the nice folks working in the Philippines. Total employment at T-Mobile is certainly up…just not in the United States. At least T-Mobile is being honest about it…some companies prohibit their off-shore employees from disclosing their country when asked (or even require them to lie about it). Ask your T-Mobile rep if they are in the Philippines and you will probably get a “yes” for the answer. I have a hard time deciding whether the Philippines or Guatemala has better support people.

T-Mobile also promised that they would not increase rates after the merger. So their recent 25% rate increase in international roaming rates was termed an “Update.” T-Mobile’s new management is totally unabashed about violating both the spirit and the letter of their promises. A modest 25% increase in international prices may not seem like much, but it is millions more that consumers will pay.

Speaking of which, have you noticed how T-Mobile keeps launching new pricing plans that are more expensive than before? Of course they are not raising rates, but if you choose to switch plans you will have no choice but to pick a more expensive plan. And, you will be required to switch plans if you make additions or changes of accept certain promotions that your old “grandfathered” plan didn’t offer. Technically, they haven’t increased prices, but effectively they have. T-Mobile’s pricing used to be a great deal, now it is exactly on-par with Verizon.

When plan shopping with T-Mobile the guideline is the same as with Verizon: Prepaid plans will almost always be cheaper and better than post-paid plans. It’s just very weird that the prepaid market exists so separately, often having prices that are half that of post-paid plans. Perhaps customers without a lot of money are smarter, better shoppers?

Oh, there is one deal plan out there: Verizon’s $90 plan for two lines is available to persons 55 and over. It has virtually unlimited talk, text, and high speed data, it has 256kbit global roaming, and includes Netflix HD. Beware of direct dialing outside the US.