T-Mobile is hiking their per-SMS rate up to 20 cents per (for those not on unlimited plans) starting August 29th. This brings them in line with most of the other carriers' costs. SMS rates have climbed steadily over the past couple of years, which makes it clear to us that the technology is just plain untenable and needs to be abandoned. Clearly, each character in these 160 character messages needs to be wrapped in plastic and driven by truck between cell towers. This explains the rate hikes -- the rapidly increasing price of gasoline is taking its toll on cell phone companies. See, it's the gas....
Oh, wait, that's not how it works. As carriers build out their network and their infrastructure it actually costs them less to deliver a text message now than it used to and the per-message infrastructure cost to them is likely still decreasing. We know that you're corporations in it to make money, guys, but raising per-SMS costs is starting to feel egregious. Why not follow Alltel's example? They've made SMS's within your “fave 5” free.
Starting on 8/29/08 the cost for SMS/MMS messages on T-Mobile's network will be increasing from $.10 to $.20. If you are wanting to get out of your T-Mobile contract without paying an ETF (Early Termination Fee) this is your chance! I just went through the process and I have documented it below.
Please note this is only valid for people who do not have a messaging plan. If you pay for a bundled messaging add-on you can not use the increase as a reason for breaking the contract since the increase does not affect you. This is also only valid for people not worried about losing your current phone number. If want to keep the phone number you will have to do some more hagling with the CR you talk to.
1. This step is very important. If you have not sent or received a SMS message within the past three months send a SMS message to your T-Mobile phone now. If you try this without having a recent text message on your account. T-Mobile will deny your request stating that the change will not affect you since you do not use text messaing.
2. Log into your T-Mobile account at http://www.t-mobile.com/. Click on Billing, then Current Usage. Verify you see the SMS Text message. If you do not see a message wait a few hours and check back. Based upon my experience the site updates a few times per day. If you do not see the message the CR will not see it.
3. Call T-Mobile's main support number at 1-800-937-8997. When prompted by the automated system say "Cancel my Account". This should send you to the right department.
4. When the customer service (CR) person asks why you are calling say, " I want to cancel my account. I was notified today that the SMS messaging rate will be increasing from $.10 to $.20. on 8/29." Some CRs seem to know about this and others don't. They may put your on hold and verify the change.
5. The CR will probably come back and offer you incentives to keep your contract. Deny all offers.
6. If you haven't used text messaging within the past 3 months the CR will say the change doesn't affect you and you will need to pay the ETF. Tell them you sent/received a text message today and it will affect you. Tell them to check your recent activity.
7. The CR may say the change doesn't take effect until 8/29. Quote T-Mobile's Terms of Service here. Tell the CR that according to the ToS you must cancel within 14 days of receiving the notification. If they argue over this point or any other point simply read the following exerpt from the ToS
IF WE MODIFY A MATERIAL TERM OF OUR AGREEMENT WITH YOU AND THE MODIFICATION WOULD BE MATERIALLY ADVERSE TO YOU, WE WILL NOTIFY YOU OF THE INCREASE OR MODIFICATION AND YOU CAN CANCEL THAT SERVICE WITHOUT PAYING A CANCELLATION FEE (WHICH IS YOUR ONLY REMEDY) BY FOLLOWING THE CANCELLATION INSTRUCTIONS IN THE NOTICE. IF YOU DO NOT CANCEL YOUR SERVICE BY FOLLOWING THOSE INSTRUCTIONS, OR YOU OTHERWISE ACCEPT THE CHANGE, THEN YOU AGREE TO THE INCREASE OR MODIFICATION, EVEN IF YOU PAID FOR SERVICE IN ADVANCE. IF THE NOTICE DOES NOT SAY HOW LONG YOU HAVE TO CANCEL, THEN IT IS WITHIN 14 DAYS AFTER THE DATE OF THE NOTICE, UNLESS A LONGER PERIOD IS REQUIRED BY LAW.
7. The CR should then put you on hold o cancel the account.
8. Once done log back into your T-Mobile account at http://www.t-mobile.com/. You should not be able to view any current details or current plan details.
9. If you can not get anywhere with the CR ask to speak to a manager or hang up and call again to get another CR.
10. If all else fails tell the CR you will file a report with the FCC and fill out the form located at http://esupport.fcc.gov/complaints.htm. Most of the time filling out this form will result in swift action by the service provider.
In my case I contact support early in the day and requested the cancellation. Since I hadn't used text messaging in the past three months the CR told me I would have to pay the ETF. This CR knew about the change and was very friendly about it. He told me to just send a new text to my phone and wait a few hours and call back. I sent the text and waited until it showed on my online account manger. The second CR had no idea about the change and it required a lot of prodding on my part to get him to cancel it. Getting a good CR is just the luck of the draw. The process can be very easy or very difficult based on the CR you talk to.
Most providers like AT&T and T-Mobile increase ppu sms rates in efforts to get people to sign up for bundles like unlimited messaging. Both of these providers are going through initiatives where they are pushing texting more than even voice calling. Its only gonna go up while sms bundles rates will increase only a penny or two in the next year or so. For people who never text, this sux, but for people who have unlimited messaging to begin with this you'll probably be offered a combination internet/texting packaging hand over first in the next few months. In fact, when you call into CS to block a core data service like texting, most reps will get yelled at if they don't try to save you :-P
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