As new cell phones are introduced, with multiple features, and cell companies jump on the bandwagon to support those features, one has to ask why these companies aren't working on just giving basic good service before they try to expand their horizons.
The cellular phone industry is relatively new, when it is compared with the size and importance of what it takes on in the United States. It wasn't that long ago that cell phone users were tied to their cars for service, due to the size of the phones and the power needed to operate them.
Now cell phones are so miniaturized that some of them will fit in the watch pocket of a persons Levi's (or did since many blue jean companies have stopped making pants with those little pockets anymore).
Now this is not a scientific article in which I surveyed thousands of people about their cell phone service, but from what I gather from the people around me most are not happy with the service they have, whether it be along the Wasatch Front or in eastern Utah.
So I say these companies should listen to their customers and think about service first, features last. In some ways the cell industry in this country reminds me of the Detroit automakers of the mid-1970's in that they build something that is basically flawed and then sell it to the public with all the bells and whistles trying to cover up those defects. There are a number of problems which we could discuss.
We could talk about the poor reception that we have in some key places. Like the fact that we can get a strong signal on the rim of the Wedge in the San Rafael Swell, but our phones cut out on us driving through the middle of Wellington.
Or we could talk about the fact that many people have a hard time getting changes made on their phones or phone service when they want it.
But let's instead, talk about people, the most complicated piece of equipment a cell phone company has, and also seemingly the most unreliable when it comes to providing service.
Now I am not talking about the local representatives of cell phone companies. My experience with them has been generally very good. It is the ones you have to call for support at corporate that don't seem to think customers are important.
"Hello, this is Rodriguez of customer service at Big Time Cellular. Can I help you?" asked the voice on the other end of the line.
"Yes you can," I said. "A few months ago I lost my cell phone and then I got a new one. The new one is actually an old one that I had, that has fewer features so I know the charge that showed up on my bill last month was not correct. I need to see that is corrected."
The customer service representative asked me for my phone number; I waited patiently for him to access the information.
"Yes you reported your phone was missing on May 5," he said. "However, you downloaded some games on that phone last month; that is the reason for the charge."
"No I didn't," I said. "That is why I reported the phone was missing and activated this other phone so no one could use the service. Heck this phone isn't even capable of downloading games."
"But sir it says here that you called about losing the phone but didn't tell us to suspend service," he said. "So apparently the service is still on. Would you like it suspended?"
I sat there for a moment, kind of stunned.
"You mean I called in that my phone had been lost and your company didn't suspend service?" I asked incredulously. "Why else would I call you?"
"Sir, we can't read your mind about what you want us to do. This is a big company and we can't always deal with peoples little problems. You are going to have to pay that charge," the customer rep said. And then he said nothing else.
I wanted to get sarcastic about this stupid little situation but instead asked to speak to his supervisor, who didn't have any more empathy for the situation than he did. They finally put me through to the fraud department and after explaining the situation, that person told me that I needed to be transferred to technical support where a nice woman said to me "You mean you called in that you lost your phone and they didn't suspend service at that time?" she asked. "Why would you call just to tell us you lost your phone?"
My point exactly; but obviously customer service couldn't figure it out. She fixed the situation, and took the charges off my bill, or at least said she would.
I know this is only one instance (and it is an abbreviation of what exactly happened), but based on what many of my friends have experienced, I am sure there are many more similar stories out there like it and others even more bizarre. The entire situation took me two hours to resolve. I feel like sending them an invoice for my time.
I am now waiting for my bill to see if the billing department at the company is as inept as their customer service is.