Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Stopped by the Velour Rope

For maybe the first time in my life I tried to stand in line for a new product release. And I was thoroughly rebuffed.

T-Mobile's Web site has been dreadfully slow all day. Even their usually clued-in and cheerful customer service staff sound frazzled and not entirely together with it. It must be tough to be popular (but, folks, did you ever consider a little extra provisioning?).

But, I have no phone.

I called to find out why I was being charged USD 299 instead of USD 179 for it. I had been given a hint by JJ: it had to be no less than about 18 months since my last phone upgrade. Well, in fact, I've suffered through this awful RAZR for a few years now...

Oh wait. In April 2007, Kathi and I got new phones. I didn't like mine, so I returned it. I was assured this would reset my upgrade clock.

Well, it didn't. That is, their records show that I bought and returned the phone, and they agree that this resets the clock, and they know I'm eligible for the deeper discount...but they can't set the bit in their system. So my agent suggests I wait until October 22, the date it becomes available to the masses, at which point they can give me the appropriate discount.

In practical terms this makes almost no difference, because the phone doesn't ship until October 22 anyway. Plus, their Web site suggests that the data plan you have to buy takes effect immediately—i.e., you pay for the plan without a phone to use it. Clever.

Because I've never actually engaged in technolust before, I was tempted to plonk down the extra USD 120 anyway. I would have, if I felt charitable towards T-Mobile. But I feel especially uncharitable today because I've lost over half an hour to their site design. This is because there's a point at which, before it confirms your order, it asks you to re-confirm your identity by entering either your SSN or your DOB. I didn't notice the “or”, which is in the typical tiny T-Mobile font size, and entered both. The imbicile who implemented the site saw it fit to reject such users. (Why did this cost me half an hour? Because T-Mobile has both my wife's records and mine on the account, and sometimes wants my information and sometimes hers, so I had to run through every combination...and while I was at it, I also tried out every combination with and without the leading zeroes. On a day when their servers were glacial when they weren't timing out.)

Welcome to the big leagues, T-Mobile. Now get your act together.

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