My wife can be hard on her cell phones. Her first phone was a Motorola flip, it did a good job but it started showing its age and needed to be replaced. Next was a Samsung flip phone that got “water damage” and the speaker wouldn’t work anymore. Then came a less expensive Samsung flip phone, a white one; it went through the washing machine. I got her an HTC Star Trek Windows Mobile phone; this isn’t a “pocketable” phone, as we found out, the screen no longer works.
Chapter One: April First
My wife went to our local T-Mobile authorized representative to get a “cheap phone” to get the job done, “The Mobile Source” in Syracuse, Utah, USA.
She came away with the cheapest, crappiest phone I’ve ever seen. Bluetooth wouldn’t sync with any thing I tried (not the laptop, not the TomTom, not the Motorola headset) and it only cost her $581.94.
Wait, that can’t be right!
The phone itself was $31.94 after taxes and a $110 instant discount, which was the out-of-pocket expense. However, getting the $110 instant discount she had to extend my contract out by 2 years, canceling before this would have cost us $200 by T-Mobile and an additional $350 by The Mobile Source. Is a $100 discount worth $550 dollars?
What’s worse, my wife told the sales guy (Eric Stanford, or “Eric S.”) that it was her line that she needed the phone for, not my line, and that she didn’t want to mess with my line. Apparently her line didn’t qualify for a “discounted upgrade” but my line did, so he decided to extend my contract out 2 more years… Oh, I forgot to mention, we have 3 lines, two are under contract, mine is not; my contract was up in January so the $550 early termination fees don’t apply to my line… well, not until Eric Stanford disregarded my wife’s instructions and applied the upgrade to my line rather than telling my wife that her line didn’t qualify.
Chapter Two: April Second
The next day I went back to The Mobile Source and told them the phone didn’t work and that it was the crappiest phone I’d ever seen. They said it wouldn’t be a problem to replace it or exchange it for another within 14 days from the original purchase. So far so good.
I asked what Windows Mobile phones they had in stock: none. I asked what phones they had with a “standard mini-USB” port for charging: “We have a Motorola.” No, that has a non-standard mini-USB port for charging. “That’s all we’ve got.” What’s your standard Windows Mobile phone? “The Shadow.” Fine, give me one of those. “We’ll have to order it from one of our other stores.” Fine, just do it.
I was told to keep the crappy phone until the new phone came in, and they’d apply the price paid on it against the price of the Shadow. I verified this would be okay and that I’d be able to get my money back even after it had been used for several days. They assured me it wouldn’t be a problem.
I don’t particularly like the Shadow, but it is an HTC device, and it does run Windows Mobile, so at least I trust the manufacturer and the OS.
Chapter Three: April 7th
I was told the shipment with the new phone would come in Tuesday, April 7th. It did, but not to The Mobile Source in Syracuse. I was told to wait until the next day for it to be delivered to the store.
Chapter Four: April 8th, returning the phone
Finally, the phone arrived. I stopped by The Mobile Source with the old phone and all the original packaging after work. I explained the problem to “Eric S.” who had to call someone to see how to ring it all up. Ten minutes after walking in the store he asked me for $200, which included the $31.94 already paid for the other phone. I whipped out my phone and hurriedly Google’d “T-Mobile Shadow Cost” and came up with a list of people who had paid anywhere from $40 to $140 for the phone, each of which also got a $50 mail-in-rebate. I read the list to “Eric S.” who looked on absently.
The Shadow is a $100 phone, at best.
After an awkward silence my wife asked “Eric S.” what he was going to do for us.
“Nothing, it was a special order. I can’t discount any special order phone,” he said.
“Excuse me? I specifically asked what your ‘standard Windows Mobile phone’ was and two people told me it was the Shadow. How can your ‘standard’ phone be a ‘special order?!’” I asked.
“We had to order it. It was a ‘special order.’ That’s the price,” he deadpanned.
“Forget it. Refund the crappy phone and cancel the contract extension. We’ll get our own stinking phone,” I quipped.
I was quickly losing my cool. I opened up my Twitter client and began shooting off tweets for the world to read.
“Eric S.” absently opened the box, pulled out the phone and proceeded to clean it with the back of his neck tie. For five solid minutes he buffed, polished, and inspected every part of that phone (apparently looking for any ding, nick, or scratch that might make a case for not being able to return it). He didn’t find any damage and eventually started the refund process.
By the time the refund had been placed by on my credit card I’d been in The Mobile Source store for approaching half-an-hour.
Chapter Four: April 8th, cancelling the extended contract
Finally, the refund was complete. I thanked “Eric S.” and said “all I need now is something in writing that says the contract extension is void as if it had never been entered into.”
“I have to call that in,” he said.
“That’s fine. Call it in and get something in writing. I’ll wait,” I said.
“It’s not in writing, it’s over the phone. There won’t be anything in writing,” he retorted.
“Then I’m going to be here for a long time. I’m not leaving until I have it in writing.” I wouldn’t budge on that point.
“What do you want in writing?” he asked.
“That the contract entered into by my wife yesterday is void as if it had never been signed, that the original contract end-dates be reverted to what they were before she came in yesterday, and that there will be no charges applied whatsoever,” I replied.
He picked up one of the pages of my wife’s receipt, flipped it over to the blank side, and slid it over to me indignantly.
I picked up a pen and started writing:
The contract extension entered into with T-Mobile as sold by Eric Stanford for The Mobile Source with Natalie Levi on the first day of April, 2009 is hereby reversed as if it was never entered into.
The original contract with T-Mobile remains in effect.
All “leg work” to effect this reversal with T-Mobile proper, along with any fees and/or penalties therein associated are the sole responsibility of The Mobile Source.
Any legal and/or attorney fees required to enforce this contract are to be paid by The Mobile Source.
This contract entered into and agreed to this eighth day of April, 2009 at 18:52pm.
(dated, signed) “Eric S.”, agent with authority for The Mobile Source
(dated, signed) Natalie Levi, customer
(dated, signed) Joe Levi, witness
My wife had walked out to the van with the kids prior to this taking place and said that when she walked back in all color had drained from “Eric S.”’ face as he watched me draft the reversal contract.
I nudged the paper back to “Eric S.” who took it in hand and read it. I switched my phone over to “video recording mode” and started covertly recording the rest of what was to transpire.
“Eric S.” called T-Mobile proper and effected the reversal of the contract from the first. True to his word, he couldn’t provide this to me in writing, but he did show me on his computer terminal that the contract end-dates on each of the three lines of service were back to where they were supposed to be.
I learned that the contract end-dates are per line of service and NOT per plan (we have a family shared minutes plan and a VoIP line, three lines total, each with different contract end-dates).
I also learned that he had blatantly disregarded my wife’s express instructions to him that he was to apply the upgrade to her line of service, not mine. He admitted that he’d applied it to my line because “it was the only line eligible for an upgrade.”
After all was said and done I picked up my wife’s SIM and thanked him for his time. He absently signed the contract I’d written earlier. I picked all my papers up and left.
All told I spent well over an hour trying to get out of the mess that should never have happened in the first place:
- if The Mobile Source hadn’t sold my wife a crappy and terribly over-priced phone;
- if The Mobile Source hadn’t disobeyed my wife’s very clear direction to apply the upgrade to her line-, and not to my line-of-service;
- carried what The Mobile Source said was their “standard Windows Mobile phone” in stock;
- honored the prices that other T-Mobile customers who were upgrading were being charged for the same phone.
(An abbreviated version of this review was submitted to Google for this business.)