Mobile Madness: Don’t Blame The Customer

I’ve always heard that the golden rule of customer service is “the customer is always right”. It’s just that it doesn’t seem to apply to my mobile carrier. Based on the bad service I got at one of their stores yesterday; their motto seems to be “blame the customer”.

When I went to a repair center for what was at least the fifth time since I first got a new phone several months ago; a tech support guy actually blamed me for choosing what he told me was a poorly designed and defective phone that they sold me. “That’s what happens when you get a free phone”, he explained.

Really.

My phone was not free, though I did get a promotional rebate that allowed me to recover the upfront cost. Even so-called “free” phones cost a lot of money. They tie you into  expensive multi-year agreements, during which you pay for the device over time. If you terminate your service before the end of the agreement; you have to pay what’s left on the full cost of the phone. That doesn’t sound very “free” to me.

In addition, when I chose my phone; I did so because it had the features, ease of use, and applications that I needed. Price was a factor, but it wasn’t the only one. I would have paid more, if something more expensive fit my needs better. That wasn’t the case. So, being in effect accused of being a  cheapskate who caused my own problems  is just offensive in the extreme.

But there’s more.

The “helpful” tech support guy also said the problems I experienced were the result of an inherently defective device that they sold me. He said lots of other customers had complained and returned that particular phone, and that the software running it was poorly written and unreliable.

When I pointed out that the problems I’d been complaining about for months were also consistent with those caused by malware; he actually told there is no such thing as malware that infects Android devices, and that running a mobile antivirus application is a waste of time. This, he maintained he knew, is because he is an Android developer.

I don’t know whether I should be more angry, offended, or afraid. Maybe all three. Here is a carrier repair tech who is not only denying the existence of mobile malware, but is actually advising customers not to use antivirus protection for the mobile operating system  most vulnerable and prone to infection on the entire planet.

I don’t believe him, and neither should you.

Listen to testimony from security experts who testified before Congress in recent months about the need for new weapons to combat cyber crime. You will hear that mobile devices are a major window of opportunity for threats that can steal data; worm their way into corporate and government networks; and wreak havoc that could cost billions and even shut down vital national infrastructure like water systems, and electrical grids.

But even if malware wasn’t the cause of my phone issues; that still isn’t any excuse for how the tech support guy handled my concerns. Denying the existence of a very well-known problem undermined both his credibility, and my confidence in his company.

In the end; he agreed to replace my phone. But  that wasn’t much comfort, because he said the replacement model is also defective, and has a tendency to spontaneously delete user data.

What he did not say, was that he was going to get me a phone that actually works properly.

So, today I’m trying to channel my anger into action. I could complain to the Federal Communications Commission  (FCC) because they regulate mobile carriers, but that seems a bit extreme. I could also switch carriers, but I’m  not confident I’ll get any better treatment somewhere else.

Let’s talk about it. Share your mobile customer service horror stories with me, and we’ll compare notes. Maybe I’ll find out where to take my business next.

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