What I really wanted from T-Mobile

Picture of Samsung Galaxy S phoneThe other day I finally got round to changing my T-Mobile tariff from a £25/mo tariff which covers the cost of a phone, to a £10/mo SIM-only tariff (which was reduced to half that for the first nine months, which I really need now that work is getting less and less). I changed my tariff because I have a decent enough phone (a Samsung Galaxy S) and they didn’t have a better phone which I could have for the same money or less. They called me as I was on my way into London about a month ago, and they did that just as the train I was on was leaving Earlsfield station, and I knew that I would get cut off, and told the guy to call me back in ten minutes. He never did, which I consider really poor customer service.

I went into the T-Mobile shop in Kingston, and asked them about their lowest-price SIM-only deal, which then cost £7.70 or something per month, and asked them what would happen if I changed tariffs mid-month. I did this because I had done this a few years ago and got an enormous bill at the end of the month, when my new tariff was meant to be lower. The guy in the shop told me that my tariff would be “pro-rata’d”, in other words, I’d get the rest of the month on my new tariff with my minutes reduced accordingly. The number of minutes I’d get seemed unusually low, so I decided to pass on it until the end of my tariff month (which is on the 10th of every month). The 9th was this past Monday, so I went in just before the close of business on that day.

I asked him when my new tariff would kick in — whether it would be on the next business day, or right now, and he said right now, and I could not get a satisfactory answer as to how many minutes I would be entitled to for the rest of that day. The likely answer would, of course, be “very few”, if I had a few hours’ share of an allowance of minutes that would normally last a month, which would be only a very few minutes. In the event, I did not make any calls or send any texts, and the internet is free. However, it would be much simpler to be able to arrange to change to the new tariff when the present month is over, particularly when that happens to be the next day. That spares me the uncertainty of not knowing how many minutes I can use without running up extra charges.

Also, T-Mobile should have made sure I was transferred onto a SIM-only tariff as soon as my 24-month contract was up. I did bring this up with the agent and was told that the phone was free, and that the money paid for a “line rental”. I do not understand this, because I do not have a physical line; rather, I have a number and the right to use their network. Phone bills subsidise the cost of the handset; if they didn’t, they would not offer SIM-only deals for those who could bring their own phone, and they would not charge more per month for expensive “free” handsets like the iPhone and the Galaxy S2. There is simply no reason for them to be charging people for phone-contract tariffs when their contract has expired and the phone is paid for.

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