The mark-up

I’m going to go off-topic a bit from what I normally write about and mention a brief experience I just had with T-Mobile and technology.  I don’t think this is limited to just T-Mobile but it’s an experience that seems too common in our modern world.

My phone is Android.  I’ve been on Android since pre-ordering the original G1, moving on to the G2 two years later and recently in the last two weeks adopting the brand new (and so far very amazing) HTC One.  My life is on my phone – both business and personal.  It’s one device that serves both worlds.  Contacts, emails, travel buddy, and also mobile hotspot.  Therefore I signed up for the “All Everything” plan with the G2 so that I would never have to worry about anything.  No watching minutes, no tracking MBs, nothing.  I wanted a stress free existence.

Luckily I haven’t had to travel over the past two weeks until yesterday.  The best feature of mobile hotspot is the ability to dodge hotel wifi mark-ups.  I find it against my religion to pay $19.95 for 24 hours of wifi connectivity so that I can send out email.  Seems a bit wasteful.  This morning I go to connect with my amazing HTC One and lo and behold, my web browser tells me I need to pay $14.95 a month for this privilege that I’ve had for over 18 months now!

It’s amazing, I give T-Mobile my money for a new phone.  Not just new, but the HTC and T-Mobile flagship device right now.  I wasn’t even at the lowest possible upgrade cost point in my contract.  So I paid more than just “list.” And because I had the gall to upgrade to the latest and greatest and give them my money, they now want MORE of my money.  Specifically (according to the browser screen that popped up) $179.40 over the next twelve months!  For a feature I’ve been using as part of my plan (or so I thought) for the past 18 months.

At this point I thought to myself: “Self, surely something isn’t right here.  This can’t be the case.”  Quick call to T-Mobile’s 611 customer support line (and 5 minutes of it inconveniently and incorrectly trying to guess my reason for calling) all to find out that it’s not $14.95 but really only $5 per month extra.  As if this makes it all better.  Apparently the G2 didn’t come with the proper software controls for T-Mobile to charge for this service so they just ignored it (if you’re like me and need this feature and don’t want to pay out the nose for it go buy a G2 – it’s still one of the best devices out there).  But because of that I was now being forced to unexpectedly add cost to my not-so-unlimited Unlimited plan.

So here’s to you, companies that use software to enable costs that only exist because of one line of code.  Here’s to you the companies that decide to nickel and dime loyal customers (yes, we still exist.  I’ve been with T-Mobile since 2004).  Here’s to you, the mark-up man (or woman for the PC in the audience) out looking for things to charge for.

To sum it up.  Because a loyal T-Mobile customer since 2004 decided to give T-Mobile my hard earned money for a phenomenal phone and actually want to use all the features that I’ve been using for the past 18 months under the same plan that I still have on basically just an older version of this same phone, I must now give T-Mobile MORE of my hard earned money because they now have a line of software code to enable them to take that extra money.  And I should be thankful that it’s only $5 a month instead of $14.95 a month because I’m on the “Unlimited” plan.

T-Mobile, I still love you.  You’re still better than Verizon, AT&T and Sprint.  But your image has been tarnished.  I can no longer say that my time with you has been pain free.  You are now just another player of the game.  And for that I am sad.

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