My wife got me a Lumia 521 Windows 8 Phone for my birthday. It’s a very nice device for the money. It is bigger than the iPhone 4/4s and much speedier too. The Windows 8 interface is easy to use and looks nice too. The phone, a prepaid device on T-Mobile, is likely to replace my aging and very slow iPhone 4. We are currently on the Sprint network and have abysmal service. As it is our ONLY phone service, I am anxious to replace it. I was hoping that T-Mobile would be my answer. So far, however, I have not been able to find out.
We got the phone just before Christmas, 2013. It is now late January and I’ve still not been able to use the phone as, you know, a PHONE. It has been terrific as a WiFi only device, a 4.3 inch tablet. Windows Phone 8 works terrific is this regard.
So, what’s the problem? Well, initially, I could not activate the phone and its included SIM card. Now, this is my first exposure to SIM cards as Sprint does not use them.
I try to activate the phone and prepay for the service. I still have months left on my Sprint contract, so I thought the prepay route would be a great way to test the waters with another carrier. Upon trying to activate, the web page tells me that there is a problem with the SIM card and that the phone’s IMEI is not valid. So, I call the number provided.
Now, before I go on, let me say that I have nothing against anyone who cannot speak my language very well (hell, I have issues myself) but…if you are going to be in a CALL CENTER answering calls in ENGLISH, then you should damn well know how to speak it and do so that the caller doesn’t have to ask you to repeat yourself time and time again.
When the phone call was answered, it was obvious that I was dealing with someone not in the United States. The person spoke so poorly that I was continuously having to ask him to repeat himself. It was embarrassing for both of us. I’m sure the gentleman was doing his best, but he did not belong in this particular job.
After a very painful 20 minute or so call, he informs me that I would have to take the device to the store where I got it. Well, it was ordered online, from Best Buy during one of its sales.
I finally got around to going to a Best Buy store to have the issue resolved. A very nice lady, Shannon, tried, desparately, to get my phone working. And, she got farther than I did.
I explained what happened and she got another SIM card. She then calls T-Mobile and had a similar experience to mine. They did, however, get the phone activated AND the SIM card setup. Now, mind you, the call center person got the serial number to the new SIM card and assured Shannon that it was the correct card. BUT…
(You just KNEW there was a but, right?)
…the bloody card was too damn big. There are, apparently, many different sized SIM cards and Best Buy only carries the standard size in the stores. WHAT?
So, Shannon calls the nearest T-Mobile store to see if they would swap out my defective SIM for a new one and activate it. They said sure, for $21. WHAT?
Yep, they want to charge $21 to swap out a defective card that T-Mobile gave me in the first place! Mind you, the defective SIM was IN THE BOX, FROM T-MOBILE.
I see why they are a distant fourth in the cell business. AT&T may have been smart to not buy them.
Shannon then proceeded to check around the local Best Buy stores to see if they had a micro SIM that I could get. They didn’t. She found out that Best Buy does carry them, but only online. She ordered me one. Should be in in about a week. I’m OK with that.
I don’t blame Best Buy for this problem. The blame is squarely on T-Mobile. They packaged the phone and SIM card. They should have taken care of it. When I called them the first time. They should have just sent me a replacement card or, at the very least, had me go to one of their stores and pick one up, as an exchange. The didn’t do that.
Now, to be fair, I did take to Facebook and complained on the T-Mobile page. I was instructed to go to the web site and make the complaint there. I did. I got a reply back, a day later, saying that they were ‘very sorry’ and that IF I had to pay for another card, they ‘would make it right’, implying-but not saying directly-that I would be refunded the amount. Sorry, folks, that’s not good enough. I should NOT have to pay at all. This was their mistake, THEY should have made it right. Best Buy went above what I expected of them. I only went there because I was told to take the phone back to where I got it.
Looking back, I think the guy meant to say to take it to a T-Mobile store, but that is not what he said.
I’m still willing to switch my family over to T-Mobile if the service (the radio service, that is) is more reliable and better than Sprint. I suspect it will be. Even though the phone was not usable as a phone, it still connected to T-Mobile and showed me both the speed and signal strength. I get solid 4G service where I live, which is important. Most places we go seem to get the solid, 4G service, so I am hopeful.
So far, though, I am far from impressed with T-Mobile. They are worse than Sprint in the Customer Service arena so far, and that is saying something. They could take a lesson or two in excellent customer service from Chik-Fil-A, a company that prides itself on excellent service.
I’ve been a Sprint customer for nearly 16 years now and have rarely ever gotten what I would call good service, customer service or cell service. I’ve stayed with them mainly for convenience. However, since moving three years ago, the cell service in this area is just abysmal.
So, I will know in a week or so if I like the actual T-Mobile service. I will follow up this post with how it goes with the new SIM card.