I’ve been a T-Mobile customer for several years now. Until recently I was on Pay-As-You-Go, which seemed to fit my usage quite well. I would top up about £10 each month, which would give me free texts for the following month and enough credit for all the phone calls I would normally make. If I used more during one month, I would simply perform an extra top up, and if I used less, the credit might stretch even further than a month. For internet I would buy “unlimited” (500MB/month) usage for £20 every six months. It seemed like a good system.
However, I was recently contacted by a T-Mobile sales person, who was questioning why I had been on PAYG for such a long time, and had never switched to a contract. I thought I would listen to what they had to say, so I did and they ended up offering me a contract for just over £8 per month that included unlimited “internet browsing” and 256MB/month “downloads” (I’m not sure how T-Mobile differentiates between the two), free UK texts and what seemed like plenty of UK minutes. If I used extra minutes or made phone calls abroad that would just be added to my monthly direct debit. Making phone calls abroad was something I discussed with the sales person for a while, as I need to be able to call my family in Denmark, and she also enabled the free “international switch” which means you don’t pay some arbitrary ridiculous price for calls abroad. This sounded good so I agreed and there was just one remaining step: the credit check.
I’ve had a credit card for 6 years, spend thousands of pounds on it every year, and never miss a payment (I pay the full amount off every month). I’ve never had any informal overdrafts, and I’ve never had problems paying rent. I’ve never had any loans (apart from student loans in Denmark) and I’ve been fully employed since I moved to the UK over six years ago. So, all in all, I couldn’t imagine that I would fail a credit check for a mobile phone contract worth less than £9 per month. However, none of those things seem to matter to T-Mobile. Neither did it matter that I had been a customer with them for several years, already paying them more than the contract amount every month (on average at least).
The only thing that mattered was that I hadn’t already been on a T-Mobile contract, so they just couldn’t trust me. Because of this they would only be able to offer me a different contract at £15 per month which would offer me pretty much the same things, plus “unlimited” internet (aka. internet with a hidden, undisclosed limit) and some more minutes (that I probably wouldn’t use). The idea was that I would get on this contract (which was a rolling monthly contract) for 2-4 months, and then I should call them and change over to the mythical, less-than-£8 contract.
I couldn’t believe that this was the way they would “welcome” new customers, and thought it was even more disgraceful that they would treat someone who had already been a customer for as long as I had this way, but since I really liked the sound of the too-good-to-be-true contract that might be waiting just a little bit further down the ripping-off-lane, I reluctantly accepted this new contract.
That was it, they hung up and I thought all was well. Everything seemed normal, until I wanted to call my parents to hear how they were doing. I dialled the number as usual, and got this message by a stern recorded woman:
“Calls to this number have been barred from your phone. Sorry. Good bye”.
Great, they’ve messed up activating the “yes-I-want-to-be-able-to-phone-abroad” switch, so I went online and had a look at the confusing, broken website that T-Mobile has been offering to their users for years now. I wonder if there are other users out there who have noticed how the “My plan details” button has been showing the message “Sorry, the system is currently unavailable. Please try again later.” consistently for several years? I guess it’s more difficult for customers to complain about their plan, or realise they’re being ripped off if they can’t even see their plan details. I couldn’t find any information anywhere else, so I thought I’d give their customer support a call.…