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Cell Phones: Ask and You Shall Receive

Posted by Carl E. Reid Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Run your career like a business. This includes personal expenses. If you do not receive the service you pay for, tell the vendor service provider.

All cell phone service providers sincerely want to keep you as a customer. They will do whatever it takes to ensure your loyalty, month after month. This includes giving you money you are entitled to, as long as you ask for it. Your contract appears to lean more in the direction of your financial responsibilities, which makes each of us feel helpless. Get over it.

Similar to the employee hand book, there are more unwritten rules than there are written rules. As I tell my business career coaching clients "Learn the rules. Then make the rules work for you". This means you are in the driver's seat, as long as you pay attention to your monthly cell phone bill.
Don't expect major money for each instance, but it can add up over a 12 month period. I received about $275 in service credits in the last 14 months, for various "no service" issues.

Every person has a different cell phone plan. Be very clear about the various services your cell phone plan covers. Write it out:

  • Phone service
  • Text message / SMS
  • Email
  • Internet Browsing
  • Downloading services
  • Unlimited plans
  • Being able to call people with the same service provider, at no cost
  • International vs. U.S. services (calling, email etc.)
  • Minute usage draw down on accessing voice mail
If any single one of your services do not work, start the process of getting some money back in the form of credit against current or future bills. When any part of your cell phone service fails, do the following:
  1. Note the first date of the service failure
  2. Keep track of all the time for the service outage
  3. Call your cell phone service provider
  4. Get the customer representative to create a help desk request and provide you with the help desk request number
  5. Get the representatives name and or ID number - note it down
  6. Call every day until the issue is resolve
  7. Once the issue is resolved "ask for a pro-rated credit for the time the service(s) is down". It does not matter if it is 1 hour or 10 days. Ask for a credit. You might be surprised at the response.
If you receive any resistance, a suggested response is "I have not received the contractual services that I am paying for. If you cannot help me, please let me speak to a supervisor, before I send my request to the CEO of your company". Knowing the name of your cell phone provider CEO or President is a good thing to have . . . just in case.

Some real scenarios that resulted in a money credit from different cell phone service providers. . .
  • For 6 months 2 different people had no signal in the building where they worked. For 8 hours a day for six months they could not send or receive phone calls on their cell phone. Each month each person paid the full bill, despite not receiving full service. After I suggested they call their provider for credit, each company representative said "no problem". 1 person received a $260 credit and the other person received a $280 credit. Two different credit amounts, for the same issue, tells you each customer service representative is empowered to make "judgement calls".
  • Before traveling outside the U.S., I had my phone turned for being able to send/receive emails. The international fee was $19 a month. I went on vacation for a week, but 4 months later I was still paying the $19 per month. I forgot to turn the service off. I called my service provider and they credited 3 months back to my account.
  • How about being late with paying a bill. The cell phone company turns off outgoing call capability for whole week. Once the bill is paid for the current period outage, ask for a credit. Why? The cell phone service provider is turning your current service off, for a previous bill from a service they previously provided. Be sure to explain that logic to them. Cell phone companies make million$ just from the shear ignorance of people.
  • My cell phone provider was upgrading a cell tower in the neighborhood where I was working at a client site. For 8 hours a day I couldn't receive or make calls and I could not send/receive email on my Blackberry phone. I called every day and once a week I called to get a credit. Each week I received a $15 credit. Each week I was also told this is a "one time" credit. I said no problem, but I repeated the process every week any way. So that was $15 X 7 = $105. That equals a little more than 1 month of free service. 7 different representatives making excellent judgement calls.
I could go on with many profitable stories. The bottom line is the cell phone providers are not going to volunteer to give you back any money. The cell phone providers are playing the numbers game. For every credit they give, 100 people do not ask. Do you think the cell phone providers are still making money?

Ask and there is a good chance you will receive.
Don't ask and you'll keep paying for service you do not receive.

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