The customer is in charge: T-Mobile issues an apology (and my money back)

Summary:On Wednesday, in response to my publication of a recording of a call that took place between me and a customer service rep named Rudy at T-Mobile, Cornell Cunningham, senior manger of customer care at T-Mobile, phoned me to say he was appalled at Rudy's aggressiveness and the tone and that T-Mobile would be issuing me a refund for failed hot spot service (what I wanted in the first place).

On Wednesday, in response to my publication of a recording of a call that took place between me and a customer service rep named Rudy at T-Mobile, Cornell Cunningham, senior manger of customer care at T-Mobile, phoned me to say he was appalled at Rudy's aggressiveness and the tone and that T-Mobile would be issuing me a refund for failed hot spot service (what I wanted in the first place). He also asked me if I wouldn't mind following up with a post indicating that T-Mobile had contacted me to make good on the situation.  I told Cunningham that if he put what he just told me in writing, that I would follow up by publishing his letter here, on this blog.  That letter arrived by email this morning.  Here's the full text (sans Cunningham's contact info):

From: Cunningham, Cornel
Sent: Friday, July 21, 2006 11:10 AM
To: David Berlind
Subject: Follow-up to our Conversation

David, thank you for bringing to our attention your experience with T-Mobile HotSpot service.  We strive to provide our customers with the highest level of support, and we apologize that your needs were not met.  While we were unable to identify any network issue that might have caused the problem, we were able to confirm that you were logged on to HotSpot for only a very short time and had only minimal data access; therefore, we are processing a refund of $9.99 to your credit card for the charges incurred. 

In addition, while the HotSpot network appears to be working properly at SFO, we are dispatching a field service technician to the airport to troubleshoot the situation you reported.  

We apologize for any inconvenience this matter has caused you.

Sincerely,

Cornel Cunningham
Sr. Manager-Technical Care

While the letter isn't as forthcoming about Cunningham's assessment of the call's content as he was with me on the phone, I believe from Cunningham's tone on the phone on both Wednesday and earlier this morning that he was sincere about making the situation better (although I wonder, as I would with any company and not just T-Mobile, whether a recording like mine would have merited the same level of attention if it didn't turn up on a site with the sort of reach that ZDNet has). 

At this point, I think I'd be willing to give T-Mobile another chance (even though I said in my original post that the wireless carrier lost a potential customer for good).  Not just because they made my situation better.  But because I think the company has learned a lesson about how quickly any bullying of its customers can make headlines and what it must do in terms of being more customer friendly to avoid that from happening again.  AOL and Comcast are two other companies that recently learned this lesson the hard way. In fact, these instances should be lessons to all companies. Thanks in part to the read/write nature of the Web, your customers are truly in charge of your future.  How prepared you are for that reality is entirely up to you.

But just in case you don't think it can happen to you, here's an invitation to ZDNet's readers.  If you feel you're being treated unreasonably by your technology provider, write to me at david.berlind@cnet.com. Perhaps we change a few minds together.

Topics: Mobility

About

David Berlind was fomerly the executive editor of ZDNet. David holds a BBA in Computer Information Systems. Prior to becoming a tech journalist in 1991, David was an IT manager.

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