Monday, January 26, 2009

T-Mobile's Extra Effort

T-Mobile rates high in our recommendations, and part of that experience comes from the fact that we rarely need to talk to their customer service. All of our T-Mobile phones are prepaid and everything has been better than expected, including coverage. But last week I threw them a challenge.

One of our 'backup' phones was a 7-Eleven prepaid phone, SpeakOut, which uses the AT&T wireless network and a handful of roaming partners. Their claim to fame was a cheap prepaid phone available over the counter at their stores that come 'pre-activated'. It's a perfect "glove box" phone whose minutes don't expire for a full year. One of our SpeakOut phones even had a fun phone number.

SpeakOut costs have been slowly creeping up to the point where a small $25 yearly renewal wasn't enough to keep the phone active, even without using any minutes. So, with the latest rate increase I thought I would take that fun phone number and transfer it over to our main T-Mobile line. We were going to do our first "number port". I thought this would be difficult enough to be impossible since SpeakOut phones are operated by a small MVNO, Ztar Wireless (pronounced "star").

I was absolutely floored by T-Mobile's performance. Making the initial request was a bit difficult because I had so much trouble understanding the customer service agent. I was eventually transferred to their "Number Transfer Center" and had my account handled by a very capable person who explained everything that had already occurred and what hoops she needed to jump through to make it happen. The next day that agent called me and said the process was complete and apologized that it took so long. The transfer went into a second day because Ztar is too small to have their own number transfer center, so T-Mobile helped them, as well!

The process makes for an interesting story itself, but let me say instead, T-mobile definitely deserves the JD Power customer satisfaction awards they have been winning over the last few years. Let's go find some more phone numbers to transfer, this is fun!


Anonymous said...

T-Mobile does its job very well to say the least. Their CA Coverage is a bit to be desired but hopefully now that AT&T is out of the way and they own their network free and clear it will improve to the same quality as it is everywhere else.

Jonathan Ah Kit said...

I've also ported once with T-Mobile prepaid from Cingular (early 2007), after some odd pre-sales customer service from the latter (mostly revolving around confusing talk at the local Cingular company shop that T-Mobile didn't have towers in town; in hindsight, they probably were talking about co-location, I'm guessing) and wanting to go with T-Mobile in the first place. I would have to say every dealing I've had with them since -- even transferring my prepaid number and account to a new SIM after I lost the original, while calling them from overseas -- has been eerily smooth. Often their 'yes' responses have been supplemented with words to the effect of 'of course, you just have to ask' (they once offered on their own initiative to give me an account expiry extension while I was on said overseas trip so I didn't have to pay for a refill while looking for my SIM).

Which reminds me -- about porting, it seems that Verizon Wireless won't let me port in a number to my VZW prepaid account. They'll let me change the number (once every calendar year) without questions, but apparently porting in a number to an existing account is a no-no. (Unless, of course, I forgo my existing account's balance and pretty much close that account and start a new one. Which I won't do given the balance I prefer to maintain.) I've no idea why. Any clues?

Oz Andrews said...

Each carrier MUST allow a port by law, but how they do it is up to them. T-Mobile will allow porting to existing prepaid numbers, and apparently Verizon does not. However, anything is possible, so I would try again and see if you get a more agreeable agent. With Verizon becoming so large, they less reason to be competitive. T-Mobile is trying harder...because of that, I have 3 accounts with them.