Friday, September 01, 2006

Personal Service

Where do major companies learn how to work with their customers? I recently wrote my cellular carrier - who I have had for several years - about an issue I saw in the WSJ. Verizon and Cingular have recently announced something called an Express Card Modem for people who want to access the net outside of WIFI zones. I like the TMobile Hotspots - it is very handy to be able to pop into a Starbucks and use email and check the net. But there are other times when I need to access the net where there is no WIFI available. TMobile and all the other cellular carriers have a service for that called GPRS, or EDGE or HSPDA. GPRS, which is what I have used in the past is painfully slow. EDGE and EVEDO and HSPDA are slight variations of a technology that uses a faster rate over a cellular connection. Verizon and Cingular now offer a new card made by Novatel which works on Mac Laptops.

I wrote them a note and said I was a customer who wanted to continue to be a customer and did they have something that would allow me to use an Express card with their version of EDGE? I wrote a note and the first response was to send me to Hotspots technical support. I wrote back and said that is not what I want. I then got two notes from "support" people that said (in almost exactly the same phrases)

"After reviewing your email I understand that you would like assistance. I can certainly understand your concern and its importance so I will definitely look into this for you today.

To better assist you I have forwarded your email to the appropriate department and you will receive a response within 24 hours. I do apologize for the trouble this may have caused you. If you have any trouble please reply to this email or contact our Customer Care Team (provided below)."

Each of the three three response I got then wished that I would have a "wonderful day." By the way, the response within 24 hours was baloney - I still not have heard from them. This is definately not the way to keep customers. Whoever tried to help TMobile improve their customer service probably should be fired. My likely response will be to cancel my account with TMobile and go with one of the other two carriers who can answer the question I have raised. That seems pretty short sighted on TMobile's part.

This afternoon I called them on their 800 number. The first person I got, as has been my experience, was nice but did not know the issue well enough to be able to help me. She moved me to the data group and there I finally got my answer - TMobile is not ready to deal with Express cards and so will lose my business. In the long term they will probably get around to using the Express Card standard. But for now they are behind the curve.

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