Joe Levi:
a cross-discipline, multi-dimensional problem solver who thinks outside the box – but within reality™

T-Mobile almost lost one of its most loyal customers today

John LegereI’ve been with T-Mobile for a long time. How long? I had a VoiceStream-branded Nokia – that’s how long. Over the years, I put up with VoiceStream’s limited network – I didn’t need much because I was within their coverage 90% of the time.

Since then I got married (and got a service line for my wife), moved three times, and had five kids (three of which have T-Mobile lines). My Mom and Mother-in-Law both have T-Mobile lines. When I moved away from the suburbs and out to the country, I told my family we’d just have to put up with spotty, slow coverage because the value/benefit of T-Mobile compared to anyone else was too good to even consider changing.

Sure, over those many years, we’ve had our challenges and disagreements – but we’ve always been able to resolve them. That’s what I thought would happen today – and then the unthinkable happened.

A simple request to change a number

My 13-year-old son was getting spam and harassing calls to his T-Mobile number. While that’s not cool, it’s not surprising. He inherited the phone number that my wife and I got back when we were first married. We eventually ported that number over to T-Mobile’s VoIP box, and then converted it into his cellular line.

What does one do in that situation? Well, as much as we didn’t want to abandon the number that has been with us for over 20 years, we decided it was time to ask T-Mobile to change it.

That’s when the wheels came off

CC0 Public Domain, Broken Wagon Wheel by Kevin Casper,

My wife made the to 611. The number for his line was changed, and all was good. Or so we thought.

Apparently, T-Mobile decided to change my phone number, not my son’s. You know, the number I have on my business cards, on all my social media sites, on business literature, and in the address books of contacts across the globe. Gone. To add insult to injury, T-Mobile didn’t even change his number, so those harassing calls – yeah, they’ll still come through.

I called T-Mobile. I explained the problem. The rep argued that they’d done what we’d asked them to do. (It’s always good to imply that the customer is lying because obviously, we don’t know our account as well as a complete stranger.)

I asked for a supervisor: the rep told me they didn’t have them anymore.

I asked for the Retention/Cancellation Department: the rep told me they don’t have that anymore either.

The rep promised to get things fixed for me and assured that they’d be able to do it – but it would take 24 – 48 hours. Minutes later she dropped the dreaded “if” bomb. Despite having promised me to get the numbers back the way they were supposed to be (albeit slowly, and after I’ll have left on vacation), now, in no uncertain terms, she said my number may be lost – as in gone – and if it is, I won’t know until I’m out of state, on my vacation. Fantastic! #facepalm

What are you going to do to make this right?

Fine, I have no choice at this point but to trust that T-Mobile will make things right. I’ve just lost billable time trying to fix their screw up, and who knows how much business I’ll lose in the next 48 hours (or more “if” they can’t get it back).

The T-Mobile rep said there’s nothing that can be done for my account to compensate me for my hassles. Awesome. #facepalm

Eventually, I was asked to hold while the first rep got a supervisor. Interesting, that same rep had told me there were no more supervisors. I reiterated the details to the “supervisor” who apologized for the whole fiasco and promised to make it right and call me back.

During the process, I’d tweeted a few teasers about what was going on. A T-Mobile “Social Media Specialist” and an “Executive Social Media Specialist” took an interest:

Via Direct Message, I recapped the issue to this “Executive Social Media Specialist”, but was met with a somewhat ironic reply…

... We are not authorized to speak with the media about T-Mobile's business, products, or services. ...

Dan didn’t reply.

I reached out to the media relations email folks. They asked for a brief explanation of what happened, and an idea of the story I planned on writing. I replied but, as I went to press, I have not gotten their response.

Points I asked T-Mobile Media Relations to confirm/deny & explain

During this call (and points I’d like you to confirm for the story) I was told that now that T-Mobile has regional service centers:

  • Accounts will always be serviced by the center they’re assigned (mine is apparently in Boise, Idaho)
  • There are no more supervisors – the rep a customer gets when they call in is an “account expert” (I don’t recall the exact term)
  • T-Mobile no longer has a Cancellation/Member Retention Department
  • No account credits can be given when problems like this arise – regardless of who is at fault

Eventually (after three phone calls), I was finally able to make the changes we had originally requested, I was able to get my phone number back, my son was re-assigned the number which had wrongfully be given to me, and I’d only lost an hour or so of my time.

Besides an apology (which had to be extracted by demanding to speak with a supervisor), and despite asking, I didn’t get any compensation for my time or for my frustration. In the past, T-Mobile has offered $10 or $20 as a bill credit (as a token of apology and an attempt to compensate for lost time) but not this time, and if the T-Mobile rep in Boise is to be believed, that won’t happen in the future, either. Then again, the same rep said T-Mobile doesn’t have supervisors either.

Editors Note: We reached out to T-Mobile’s Media Relations and @JohnLegere before going to press. No additional comments other than those quoted above were provided.


I was contacted by a representative from the Executive Response team. She assured me that yes, T-Mobile still has supervisors, there is still a Cancellation/Member Retention Department, and there has been no change to the ability to apply account credits when situations like this arise.

Ultimately, my number was restored, my son’s line was assigned a new number, and the other account changes we requested were applied.


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