Home » Sharon Drew's Rants

I hate when promotions seek new customers and regular customers are ignored

Submitted by on Tuesday, 14 September 2010

I decided to finally upgrade my 3-year-old Blackberry. OK, OK, I’m obviously going to get a lot of flak for keeping something so old and not having easy access to the net or apps. But it did what I needed it to do. And now I need more.

I heard about the new Galaxy Samsung, did some research, and decided it would work for me (vs. the iPhone which was not a match for several reasons). As per a friend’s suggestion I looked up the phone on Wal-Mart, where it was $49.99! Cool, right? I called them, and then found out the deal was for new customers only, and that old T-Mobile customers had to pay $199.99.

As a 3-year existing customer, I called T-Mobile. Yes, the phone was $199.99 with a rebate (Am I the only person in the world who never, ever gets that rebate check??), but I’d have to pay an $18 ‘restocking’ fee.

Wait. A restocking fee? Do I have to pay an extra $5 at Barnes and Noble when I buy a book, so they can go into the back and grab another one? Do I have to pay an extra $20 when I buy a shirt at Banana Republic, so they can go into the back and pull out another one? Gosh – this is all virtual, for goodness sakes!

Here is my conversation with the T-Mobile woman.

SDM: Why do you charge some people $49.99 for the phone, and charge me $150 more?

T-MOBILE: Because they are first time users and we’re offering them a promotion.

SDM: So you are giving people – people with no history with you – a $150 gift to lure them into a contract, and someone like me who has been a loyal customer has to pay and extra $150 – PLUS A RESTOCKING FEE??? What is wrong with this picture!

T-MOBILE: Hopefully you are getting rewarded by using our service.

SDM: Do you realize that I can call Sprint right now, take their promotion for THE SAME PHONE, save $150, and end my service with you? And I bet their service would be comparable.

T-MOBILE: I realize that.

SDM: Do you realize that by rewarding new customers, you are losing old customers? This way, everyone revolves every 2 years as soon as their contracts are up, and we all play revolving customers? You should be giving ME the phone for $49.99 to keep my business!

Eventually, she deleted the restocking fee and gave me a couple of tiny perks that together will end up giving me the $150 back after two years. But it took me 30 minutes of my time (worth way more than $150) to make the point.

Are there no other choices here? They are creating a whole other market of revolving customers and promotions and perpetuating this ‘musical providers’ game. I actually feel kinda stupid that I didn’t end my contract and go with Sprint and save the money. I’m sure thousands of people do this – and it’s lose/lose.  Anyone have any ideas?

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  • http://twitter.com/MartinBayley Martin John Bayley

    In the UK you can get the promotions on the same network through third party internet vendors (the generic “buyanewmobile.com” type sites) with a number of market comparison sites helping you find the best deal more quickly. I use omio.com but there are loads more. You have to make sure you port your number in the process as if you forget and try to do it later it becomes very tricky. Most networks don’t allow you to switch numbers between phones on the same network for some security/admin reason (not sure of the exact reason but it happend to me and I had to change numbers). Got my SGS for 150 + just 15 per month for 300/300/1GB internet on TMOB.
    You just can’t get as good deals direct from the network vendor, and often the third party outlets don’t sim lock to a network – which is very useful if you want to use the phone with another sim or just be able to upgrade firmware without waiting for your network to rebrand it.