Suggestion For Mobile Phone Operators: Be Upfront And Honest About Plans

from the and-people-might-actually-like-you dept

It's no secret that many, many people dislike mobile phone operators. Why? Well, beyond the issue of dropped calls, it appears that people are sick and tired of of the way mobile services are pitched to them. The operators hate giving people a clear picture of what they're actually getting. Details of the plans remain hidden or not clearly explained and there are always hidden gotchas -- like how your "unlimited" service isn't really unlimited. So, here's a simple suggestion for mobile operators: Be the first to be totally upfront about your plans and services, remove any high pressure sales techniques, stop making it difficult to compare plans, phones and service and dub yourself as the customer friendly mobile operator. Then see what happens. Of course, some mobile operators have taken steps in this direction over the years. They're a lot more open about where various deadspots are than before and they've tried to be more open about specific features and plans -- but the problem is that this "secretive" mentality exists up and down throughout the organization. If a company makes it clear policy from top to bottom that openness, clarity and customer satisfaction are keys, it would capture the interest of an awful lot of people.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    identicon
    Give Me a Break, Oct 31st, 2007 @ 8:14am

    We will....

    ...as soon as consumers also promise to stop whining about dropped calls, poor reception in their basements, allow us to put towers in areas we need to and not worry that they cause every disease known to man, won't return a phone they dropped in a toilet and ask for a replacement for free, lose their phone and not report it only to complain then that someone called Uganda for 24 hours and now they don't want to be responsible for those charges...Give me a break. People in the US need to look at what consumers have in the rest of the world and stop complaining so much about paying so little and expecting everything.

    If you don't like wireless companies it is simple...this is not a commodity or necessity of life such as water or power, this is a instrument that you choose to purchase and pay for. If you don't like it, don't buy it.

    People will never be happy with wireless, airlines, cable TV or gas prices, we have learned to allow you to complain and try to provide the best service for the best prices.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2007 @ 8:42am

    Re: We will....

    This man speaks the truth.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2007 @ 8:44am

    Re: We will....

    Ha ha. That was funny and sad at the same time. :()

     

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  4.  
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    jb, Oct 31st, 2007 @ 8:47am

    Switch to Crickett

    They run off Verizon backbone and works as good as any other major carrier in areas they support, plus, NO CONTRACT, and real UNLIMITED for 45$/mo

     

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  5.  
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    Oliver Wendell Jones, Oct 31st, 2007 @ 9:11am

    Speaking of cell plan rip-offs...

    When I moved to this state, where my brother, sister and niece already lived, they suggested that I add yet another phone to their plan and pay a fair share of the bill vs. the cost of having my own separate account. We ran the numbers and it looked like a good deal... except for the fine print...

    In order to add the new phone we had sign a new 2 year contract (which we expected) but hidden in the fine print was a new "feature" that wasn't part of the old contract - a late payment "reconnection fee". Now, if we're late making the monthly payment they turn off all four phones and charge a $25 per phone reconnection fee. That's right - $100 every time we're late.

    The first time it happened I went into the store and spoke to the manager and told them that was outrageous, especially since they don't have to type in the payment info 4 times, just once, but they want to charge us a fee for every phone. Her response was "all cell phone companies do this and have always done this, so I don't understand why you're complaining".

     

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  6.  
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    matt, Oct 31st, 2007 @ 9:15am

    wait a minute....is someone ass backwards or head

    Response to #1:

    wait a minute, its the customer burden that the service is a complete and utter piece of crap? What happened to all those connections fees you guys were paid to "improve your service", that are still used to up the bottom line?

    Nobody has a problem with towers, its that they make the towers only their provider. I can guarantee you a tower will have absolutely no resistance in being built if it A)follows building codes/safety regulations and B)allows ALL carriers to use it. Or how about C) get all the providers involved to split the cost and add to everyone's benefit. Sorry net neutrality is best business practice, just carriers are too shortsighted to realize it. It's not a monopoly if ALL the companies agree to work together and still compete separately. That's called good business. Yet everyone just cares about their bottom line and remains ignorant.

    Can you imagine the new business models when you have the coverage/bandwith to provide new things like IPTV? HMM.

    Instead its "our tower, we want it up, nobody else can use it without a transaction fee" and you want to know why it doesn't get approved to be built? HMMMMM.

    Basement reception can be fixed by a thing called truphone or other VOIP phone situations. Who locks that out/leaves that option only available to high end business phones currently? Would that be the customer again? HMMMM.

    Replacement phones have things called insurance. Carriers hvae it to to protect their own investments.

    The lats paragraph, is true of all things. Things HAVE to be improved. You cannot maintain a consistant level of service and quality and be competitive. It doesn't exist. The service has to be increased, the quality as well, or you're going to be a dea dbusiness, in any industry. Giving in to the "we did the best we could" instead of "is there somewhere we can improve?" would show a lack of good management, leading everything in a further downward spiral.

     

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  7.  
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    What a jerk, Oct 31st, 2007 @ 9:17am

    Re: We will....

    Talk about missing the point. No one denies there are customers who make unreasonable demands and display outright stupidity. Welcome to humanity.

    But the occasional customer-who-acts-like-an-ass doesn't excuse the mobile carrier providers from the common practices of deceptive pricing, hidden service limits and a poor attitude toward their customers.

    The point of this post is those mobile carriers who are open, honest and fair about their service plans will differentiate themselves from the rest of their industry peers.

     

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  8.  
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    is the reason the bills is so high! (duh), Oct 31st, 2007 @ 9:29am

    Dude, Yer Mama

    If she would just shut up and stop using everyone's minuets then all of the world's problems would be solved; there would be peace in the middle east and Wall Street would be paved in gold instead of subprime mortgages and bad credit card debt and Cookie Monster would have his own cooking show instead of eating veggies all day. Any questions?!? 'Nuf said!

     

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  9.  
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    Bob Smedley, Oct 31st, 2007 @ 9:42am

    Re: you all

    Sorry, I don't have any complaints. I have Alltel pay as you go. Probably spent $30 in 4 months for minutes. So simple.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2007 @ 9:50am

    Re: We will....


    People will never be happy with wireless, airlines, cable TV or gas prices, we have learned to allow you to complain and try to provide the best service for the best prices.


    So you're saying that being told that my monthly cell phone bill is only $39.99 but then have it driven up to almost $60 because of "fees" and "charges" is because providers are trying to give the best service for the best prices?

    People will never be as happy as long as cell phone providers act as if lining the pockets of the shareholders is more important than actually serving customers.

     

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  11.  
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    Kay, Oct 31st, 2007 @ 10:18am

    Pay-as-you-go

    I agree that pay-as-you-go services are the best. The US is one of the only backward countries left where contracts are the status quo.

    Also, #8, what is your favorite minuet? I'd bet it's Boccherini's.

     

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  12.  
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    Mike, Oct 31st, 2007 @ 10:26am

    Just Stop

    After 15 years of in the wireless business I can say without a doubt that there is fault on both sides of the line.

    Customers have unrealist expectations about service. After all it is a radio not a phone. There will be dropped calls and other related issues. Billing is a total lack of understanding on the part of the consumer. Look at a landline, if they say it's 24.95 a month, are there not taxes and such that drive the bill up? The worst thing that ever happen to the wireless industry was the "free" phone. This caused the basic moron consumer to think that phones were really free, and if I go out and drop my phone or toss it in the sink I should get another one for "free". They think because they pay a bill every month, or don't, they should be entitled to something. I pay my cable bill every month but if my TV breaks I don't whine to the cable company that I pay my bill and they should give me a TV. And the last thing is, if customers don't pay their bills they get shut off and, yes you have to pay a reconnect fee. All the carriers charge these fees justified or not. How about you jsut pay the damn bill on time in the first place and save the blame game for someone else. Hell don't pay your car payment and have it repoed, they will charge you a fee for that too.

    As far of the carriers are concerned, their biggest mistake is being in the hardware business at all. They should not sell phones or give phones away. They should provide service and let someone else deal with the phones. They also should stop with the marketing practices that make claims that are on the verge of out right lies. I don't care what carrier you have service with, I can tell you they have made a claim that you believed and so you bought their product. But truth is they are all about the same. They all have dropped calls, all have dead zones, and they all charge "additional" fees on their bills.

    The industry will change, I believe the day of discounted phones are coming to an end. I believe that contracts will not be the same as they are today. And you know what will be best about this.. The consumer still won't be happy and niether with the carrier, but that's the way the phone rings!

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    BTR1701, Oct 31st, 2007 @ 10:33am

    Re: Speaking of cell plan rip-offs...

    There's a simple way to avoid that problem: pay your bill on time.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2007 @ 10:37am

    Re: We will....

    Give ME a break...

    So the mobile operators will start advertising honestly, once consumers just shut up and take what they get? Perhaps the consumers expect a certain level of service because that's what they were sold. You should not have to dig through pages of fine print to find out that your "unlimited" plan has a limit.

    If you pay for insurance to have the phone fixed if it breaks regardless of fault, you should get a new phone when it falls in the toilet.

    Seems that in most cases, people complain because they expect the level of service that the salesperson told them they would receive. Reap what your sew.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2007 @ 10:39am

    Re: wait a minute....is someone ass backwards or h

    My wife tells me a story about how they wanted to build a cell tower on her block, but there was a lady in the neighborhood with an electric wheelchair that would malfunction if it was too close to a cell tower, so apparently cell towers do cause some issues, but I don't know exactly what and at what distance.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2007 @ 10:44am

    There is a tower three miles from my home. At the tower, I don't get a signal. At home, I get 1 bar. Why? Its not the tower of my provider. There are two possibilities here:

    1. Get everyone on the same technology and combine towers into one network. Then, all providers share the cost to maintain that network, reducing their maintenance costs.
    2. Providers allow other providers to add their own equipment to a local tower, sharing the cost of the site fees (upkeep of the tower, grounds, and property taxes). Again, reducing the overall cost to the provider.

    On the other side, I can have full signal to my phone and drop the call. This isn't because I dropped my phone in the toilet. Its not because I can't use my phone properly. I also have a contract that charges me $79.99/mo that I'm willing to pay, but the additional $22 or so in taxes and fees, some which are meant for servicing those towers, is absurd.

    Capitalism is what drives the US and we will always demand more for our money. I don't demand anything free and if I break my phone, I pay for a new one. I expect a fair price for a service provided.

     

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  17.  
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    todd, Oct 31st, 2007 @ 10:58am

    Re: We will....

    whiny.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2007 @ 11:24am

    Re: Just Stop

    Hell don't pay your car payment and have it repoed, they will charge you a fee for that too Thats perfectly acceptable. What the parent is complaining is its unfair to charge a fee for every seat in your car

     

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  19.  
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    HybridCoolie, Oct 31st, 2007 @ 11:26am

    Simplicity would win over

    in Jamaica usually we only have 2 'plans' when it comes to our mobile providers: prepaid and postpaid.

    prepaid - u get credit wen u want to make ur calls. credit is stored on ur sim card so u dont have 2 keep entering a card #

    postpaid - u get a bill 4 wat u use.

    any other services u pay for either thru the credit on the phone or on ur monthly end bill.

    the only probs we have here is wen we cant get signal or a busy network. and thats that no other hassle.

     

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  20.  
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    James (profile), Oct 31st, 2007 @ 11:26am

    Re: We will....

    Amen to that brother.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Max Powers at http://ConsumerFight.com, Oct 31st, 2007 @ 11:32am

    Congress to the Rescue

    You mean cell phone carriers should act like a normal business and disclose all the fine print before you sign on the line?

    Don't worry though, Congress eventually starts grumbling when an industry keeps screwing with the people. At that point, the carriers will band together to try and avert government intrusion before the government decides to take control of the industry and propose new guidelines to protect the consumer.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2007 @ 11:39am

    Re: Just Stop

    I believe the day of discounted phones are coming to an end. I believe that contracts will not be the same as they are today. And you know what will be best about this.. The consumer still won't be happy and niether with the carrier, but that's the way the phone rings!

    Not true - come to India. The way it works here is exactly like you describe - pick a phone of your choice from any manufacturer and choose the service provider/plan of your choice. The result - one of the lowest call rates in the world - 1 - 3 cents per minute for local calls(usually within the state), 2 - 4 cents per min for national calls and 10 - 25 cents per minute for international calls depending on your plan. these does not even include any "special" plans you can avail - for example, for a fee of about USD 7 per month, you can call any phone in the country for a flat fee of 2.5 cents per minute

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Richard, Oct 31st, 2007 @ 12:13pm

    re:

    1. Get everyone on the same technology and combine towers into one network. Then, all providers share the cost to maintain that network...
    Capitalism is what drives the US and we will always demand more for our money.

    You're an advocate for Capitalism?? but your solution sounds more of Socialism. Next, I would assume we should all purchase the same phone from the state regulated wireless store?

     

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  24.  
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    SmileysMom, Oct 31st, 2007 @ 12:40pm

    I have had my Sprint family plan for 2.5 years now and share 800 minutes over 3 phones, with unlimited calling to any other Sprint number at any time and unlimited nights (starting at 7PM) and weekends (7PM Friday-8AM Monday) and my total bill is $85 monthly...and I just found out that I qualify for a 15% discount because of where I work (I wish I'd known that from the start, but that was my fault for not asking!)
    I purchased seperately a $50 per phone insurance plan that supplies me with a new battery every 12 months...this year I bought another 2 years of insurance and it was $60 per phone...that also covers if the buttons stop working, etc.
    I am very happy with the price I am paying for the service I am getting and feel it's a great value for my money. Yes, even with some areas I travel to not having service I am not complaining I live in a mountainous region and expect that. (Also, around $15 of the $85 is taxes/fees.)

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Matthew, Oct 31st, 2007 @ 12:43pm

    Re: Just Stop

    Rubbish:
    Customers have unrealist expectations about service.
    If the service was a great as the sales rep thought it was then this wouldn't be an issue. It is unrealistic to think we will have houses on the moon into 20 years, it is NOT unrealistic to think a phone call should be clear and uninterrupted. Frankly, if you're not trying to exceed customer expectations at every turn you are not a good business manager.

    They think because they pay a bill every month, or don't, they should be entitled to something. I pay my cable bill every month but if my TV breaks I don't whine to the cable company that I pay my bill and they should give me a TV.
    Actually, if I pay my bill I *am* entitled to something. Service! If my TV breaks I don't call the cable company, but if my cable box breaks I know right where to go. That the phone is mobile and exists in an environment where things can happen to it is not the fault of the customer (short of intentional damage).

    And the last thing is, if customers don't pay their bills they get shut off and, yes you have to pay a reconnect fee.
    Yes, this is an incentive to pay on time. Fairly straight forward, but if there is one bill with 4 phones on it, then one would NOT expect there to be 4 charges! Especially if that was not the case when there were 3 phones on it before the contract was sneakily updated when the additional device was brought in.

     

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  26.  
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    Danny, Oct 31st, 2007 @ 12:54pm

    Re: re:

    His point is that if providers practiced the Capitalism that they preached there would be actual competition in the cell phone market (and only having Sprint and Verizon to choose between is not a free market) and provider that makes the most profit would be the one offers the best services for the best prices, not the one that lock in the biggest monopoly area.

     

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  27.  
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    Ajay, Oct 31st, 2007 @ 1:16pm

    Response To Post #1

    They have become essential for life. As the mother of a severely handicapped child, I bought a mobile phone over a decade ago. Pay telephones were vanishing back then, and the ones that were left on the street usually didn't work.

    We never used our family's mobile for idle chatter or stupid conversations like most people do today. It was then, and still is today, an emergency device, but I expect to get what I pay for, which is a mobile phone that works, without a lot of troublesome and confusing restrictions on our use of the service.

    I much prefer the old days of analog, when the signal was crystal clear and dropped calls were a rarity. I'm paying the same amount of money today for mobile service as I did when we first became customers, but I feel that the quality of service has deteriorated badly.

     

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  28.  
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    Rich Kulawiec, Oct 31st, 2007 @ 1:55pm

    The purpose of contracts is...

    ...lock-in. The cell companies are well aware that they offer some of the very worst customer service EVER. If customers could readily migrate, then they'd do so -- and the first company to offer not-quite-so-horrible service would siphon customers away from the rest. This would escalate, as companies actually (gasp!) (shock!) (horror!) competed to attract and retain customers on the merits of their service. This in turn would require creativity, flexibility, sound business processes, quality assurance, and worst of all, actual thinking.

    As I'm sure you can see, that's far too much to ask. It's much easier to pay the lawyers to draft an unreadable contract (even by other lawyers) filled with gotchas and exclusions and most importantly, severe financial pain for anyone with the the temerity to want out of it.

     

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  29.  
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    P Lake, Nov 1st, 2007 @ 5:43am

    Re: We will....

    You miss one VERY IMPORTANT POINT! The airlines and the cable companies don't make me sign a two year contract. Yeah, yeah, I know I get a "free" phone. Why not let me buy a phone of my choice, then I'll deal with the manufacturer on warranty issues. By the way, that's the way it works with my television.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Sharon, Nov 1st, 2007 @ 5:49am

    Re:

    Unless I'm mistaken, my cellular provider uses a company who sells tower space and, on plenty of the towers, there is more than one provider. Does each provider occupy the same tower? No, that's what makes their coverage (and service) different.

    Too many people have the NIMBY problem -- they want perfect mobile phone service, but they don't want the tower in their back yard, or neighborhood, etc.

    My biggest gripe is the HUGE amount of tax collected by the cellular providers, the phone companies and the cable companies. It increases the price of your service by 10-15%. One of those fees, which I believe was finally repealed, we put in to pay for the Spanish American war in 1890! Once the gub'ment puts in a tax, they NEVER find a reason to stop collecting the tax. I know I sure am a Fair Tax supporter. Get the gub'ments hands OUT of my back pocket!

    The two year contract is to help pay for your subsidized phone. Plus, its also a way for providers to keep people from service hopping. It does provide a bit of stability in a very volatile market. In the end, customer loyalty is key and that has to be earned by great coverage, good customer service, fair prices and honest dealings with the customer. The company I do business with has a worry-free guarantee, a new phone every two years, a strict code of 'selling with integrity' (not to say there are not some bad sales reps who will do anything to get a buck!!), and they invest five to six BILLION a year in improving their network. They had 90-95% coverage during the Florida hurricanes three years ago, they had only one tower down in the recent LA fires. They seem to be working hard to keep my business...

     

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