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

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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