Friday, April 15, 2011

No One To Call To Complain

Now the real reason that AT & T is trying to buy out T-Mobile becomes public, thanks to the digging of a reporter:

This makes it clear (unlike certain phone company connections). AT&T doesn't care about T-Mobile's better customer service and choices to make them a bigger and better company. What they do care about is eliminating a lower priced and better competitor. Plain and simple. Barring a miracle, this will be still another example of a large company buying out or supposedly merging with what was a competitor, and then making sure the customer base suffers for it.

Prior to this announcement, T-Mobile offered generally better pricing on most plans than AT&T, and unofficially had fewer complaints about its customer service than AT&T. As this article points out, if and when this deal goes through, T-Mobile customers will probably be stuck with higher prices for their next contract, and likely with more challenging customer service issues. All this while AT&T and the remaining larger competitors, already charging higher prices than T-Mobile, will have all eliminated their lower priced competitor.

Not nearly enough people are going to take the time to try and protest or challenge this sale. It would only be a small percentage of T-Mobile customers who would do so, and most of them don't realize the negative impact this "sale" will have on their monthly expenses. The government won't do anything to stop this. After all, this will likely result in a few million customers having to cough up an additional $10 or more per month for the same service(s) they are now getting.

Using a conservative 1,000,000 users at just $10 more per month creates an additional $10,000,000 each month to be taxed. At a tax rate of only 5% (and that is VERY low), it puts another $500,000 of tax money into our government. Money that wouldn't be there if this "sale" does not get approved. Trust me, that figure is more like 8% to 10% in tax money, and an increase of $10 per month might even be too low. It's not like T-Mobile would purchase AT&T and then lower the monthly cost for millions of AT&T customers. Never seems to work that way.

This will be even worse than the so-called "merger" of Sirius and XM Satellite approved a couple of years ago. Both services are now owned by one company, and most of the music channels are shared by subscribers of both. Never mind that the playlists have been reduced for those with Sirius Satellite compared to the past. There was not supposed to be a price increase. Technically, there wasn't. Yet, a Sirius subscriber wanting channels (such as sports and specialty talk) previously only available to XM has no choice but to pay an additional $3.99 (or more) per month IN ADDITION to receive them. Same for XM subscribers for some channels exclusive to Sirius. While the services share many channels among both. Again, millions of subscribers paying the extra money for the complete service (of the SAME company) are also adding to monthly taxes, so the government allowed this to happen as well.

There doesn't seem to be anything we as consumers can do, realistically. We can't stop the government from approving this sale. And the government doesn't want us to stop it. As you might expect, I have been a T-Mobile customer for the entire time I have had a cell phone. Their service has been as good (or bad) as the other companies, based on what I have heard and seen from friends and relatives, but their pricing has been consistently better. Now it looks like after this sale, I'll wind up paying more money for less customer service.

You can bet that with the addition of millions of customers, they won't add many (if any) more customer service reps. We'll have even longer wait times and more aggravation, and at an increased cost. My first reaction to hearing the news was to comment "I wanted to call AT&T to complain about this, but I couldn't get through". Weeks later, I still feel the same way. And there is no one to call to complain to.

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