Bamboozled February 9, 2017: T-Mobile ends customer’s long journey for a working phone

 

After repeated attempts to help a customer –unsuccessfully — it seems T-Mobile has come through.

We featured the story of George Del Duca, 87, last month. The octogenarian simply wanted an inexpensive cell phone with text and voice service, but no data.

Del Duca purchased a T-Mobile branded flip phone from Walmart in October, along with a pre-paid card for 100 minutes, and his nephew helped him set it up.

The phone worked twice, but then wouldn’t turn on. And yes, it was fully charged.

After some frustration with customer service, the company asked Del Duca to mail the phone to a return center. Several weeks and many calls later, T-Mobile couldn’t find the phone.

Then he was told he’d receive a replacement phone, but more than a month later, nothing had arrived.

When Bamboozled got on the case, T-Mobile offered to send Del Duca a smart phone because they were phasing out the flip phones. Del Duca agreed. He was also offered a $100 courtesy credit.

All seemed well, but when the phone arrived, it wouldn’t activate. Turns out the SIM card was expired.

We asked T-Mobile to look again, and it sent a new SIM card.

This one didn’t work either.

T-Mobile finally agreed to activate a new phone on its end and make sure it was operational before sending it to Del Duca.

When it arrived, it worked, but a few days later, it didn’t. This time the battery wouldn’t hold a charge, it seemed.

Del Duca declined an offer for $150 to buy a new phone on his own, saying he’d give the imperfect phone a longer try.

 

Highlights from National Consumer Protection Week

Shortly thereafter, Del Duca’s nephew, David Bosefskie, reported that the Bamboozled column apparently landed on the desk of John Legere, the company’s CEO and president.

Bosefskie received a call from T-Mobile’s executive office. The caller identified himself as T-Mobile’s director of technical support and services, Bosefskie said.

“He said he was instructed by the company president to resolve the problem properly,” Bosefskie said.

The caller offered to contact a local T-Mobile store, have workers set up a new flip phone — turns out they’re not phased out just yet — with a new SIM card and an additional $50 credit.

Plus, Del Duca could keep the smart phone as a backup, and should Del Duca ever lose the flip phone, T-Mobile would activate it at no additional charge.

And, Bosefskie said, the company would be looking at how the Del Duca mess happened and they would make adjustments if needed.

So the new phone was picked up at the T-Mobile store in Springfield, Bosefskie said, and he said the staff was very helpful.

“The basic flip phone works fine,” Bosekskie said. “Uncle George extends his thanks to the Bamboozled column for making sure T-Mobile — along with other companies — does not slack off in providing good service to its customers.”

Thanks to T-Mobile for getting it right.

IMPORTANT CONSUMER REMINDER

Dear readers, Bamboozled is always here to help with your consumer problems, but we ask that you understand we can’t help everyone — even though we wish we could.

That’s why we’d like to remind you of your own consumer weapon: the EECB.

That’s short for Executive Email Carpet Bomb.

It’s an effective tool if traditional customer service calls get you nowhere.

First, track down the email addresses of company executives — the CEO, the president and others — and get your complaint in their hands.

A simple Google search will get you to the company’s website, and you’ll find, under “corporate information” or “investor relations” or “investor information,” the names and titles of company officers.

Make a list. Then, try to figure out how the company assigns email addresses. Starting with the “newsroom” or “public relations” section, see if you can find an actual employee’s address. Chances are the rest of the company employees have similar email formats.

Then give it a go.

For example, if the media contact is John Jones and his email is jjones@abc.com, you can guess that CEO Mary Martin’s email is mmartin@abc.com.

If that doesn’t work, try other combinations, such as mary.martin@abc.com, martinm@abc.com, mary_martin@abc.com. If you have the exec’s middle initial, try combinations such as mary.m.miller@abc.com.

If you don’t have luck, you can always snail mail a letter to each exec at the company headquarters. You can find the address on the company website.

Your message should detail your challenge. Include dates, names, account numbers, specific service issues, receipts — everything — but do it without emotion. Only the facts, please.

And don’t forget to leave messages on the company’s Facebook and Twitter — we’ve heard success stories from that strategy, too.

We want to hear from you, so please share your consumer triumphs (or failures) in the comments section below.

Have you been Bamboozled? Reach Karin Price Mueller at Bamboozled@NJAdvanceMedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @KPMueller. Find Bamboozled on Facebook. Mueller is also the founder of NJMoneyHelp.com. Stay informed and sign up for NJMoneyHelp.com’s weekly e-newsletter.