T-Mobile plan change debacle

I went without phone / internet for about 19 hours when I attempted to upgrade my T-Mobile plan. In the end, I got a different plan than I wanted, which will have to be switched in the future, but did get a free month of service for my troubles.

I’ve long been looking at other options for my phone plan, since I use it for my home internet and sometimes would run out of data and phone minutes. I was on the “Walmart plan”, which had 5GB of data plus Binge On, 100 minutes, and unlimited texts for $30 plus tax a month. They no longer offer this plan, so any new plan would have to be better enough that I wouldn’t want to switch back.

T-Mobile has a $40 + tax plan advertised on their site called Simply Prepaid with 10GB data, unlimited minutes, and unlimited texts. I would lose Binge On, but determined the increased overall data plus the unlimited minutes would be overall better for my current situation.

My account page has a section to change plans, but it doesn’t have the $40 monthly Simply Prepaid plan. It strangely has a plan that seems approximately the same, including the name, but is $10 more a month. So I decided to go to one of their stores to see if I could get the $40 plan set up in person.

Friday I went to the store around 7 PM. The lady knew just the plan I was wanting and said I could switch to it. She said she could roll over the remaining cash balance I had on my existing prepaid plan, but would have to pay the $42 to take care of the first month of the new plan. She seemed mildly surprised at the age and busted condition of my phone, but didn’t seem concerned as she switched the plan on her computer and put in a new SIM card.

The phone connected to the network with the new SIM card but had a little exclamation mark in the bars area and wouldn’t let me call, text, or use data besides to load a ‘Sign in’ page that said it couldn’t sign into the network. She said it could take up to 24 hours for the switch to happen, so she sent me home with my old SIM card in hand, telling me to put it back in if the service wasn’t working by the morning.

I occasionally checked my phone that night in vain. The ‘Sign In to Network’ screen at this point just said my device couldn’t use the data connection. I went to Panera to get a bit of internet and tell someone I might be incommunicado for a bit. I went home and did non-internet things and hoped no one was trying to get a hold of me.

I didn’t sleep in the next morning as I usually would on a Saturday. I checked my phone and it was in same state as before.

Worried that the old SIM might put me back on my old plan, I went back to the store. The one lady wasn’t there, so I was helped by a different lady. She switched the card, but that didn’t give any connection at all. The other guy working there tried the new SIM in another phone. It didn’t work, but showed the wrong phone number.

Their computer system wouldn’t let them go to the area they needed to for fixing the situation for some reason. They had to make a phone call to customer service center to have them take care of it. But, of course, there was a wait. The guy put in a separate call. We waited and waited. After having stood there waiting for a while, we sat down and waited some more.

By this point, other customers had come in, so both employees went to help them. The lady left the phone with me, on speaker, and told me to say “Hey Michelle” if the person answered. I waited and waited. Suddenly, the wait as over: I heard a human voice. I hesitated, trying to remember the name the lady had said. I just said “hello”. The lady on the line didn’t seem to hear me. The phone’s small screen said “Muted” or something, so I pressed the button that seemed most likely to unmute, and said “hello” again. But Michelle was already hanging up. It felt like 5-10 seconds between the time Michelle had started talking and hung up. The lady looked over at me with jaw dropped.

The lady, who was helping someone else, took the phone over by her, restarted the call wait, and commenced helping the other customer again. The guy, whose original call was still on wait, said it was at 59 minutes call time.

After waiting a while more, the lady said I ought to call 611 from my phone to see if I could get through faster. The automated system asked me to enter my number, but didn’t recognize it with several attempts. It then told me to enter a number to get a callback, with a wait time around 3 hours. I, of course, didn’t have a working phone number to give, so I just hung up.

After telling the lady what happened and then waiting some more, she told me I probably should just leave and come back. I walked around a nearby park for a half hour, then stopped back in. As I walked in the door, she waved the phone and said she was still waiting. So I headed home.

I did some vacuuming of my car. I took a break to eat a bowl of oats. I went back out to the car with soapy water and a rag and started to clean surfaces. A little while into that, I got a text welcoming me to T-Mobile. So I stopped my cleaning and headed back to the store. It was approaching 2PM at that point.

The lady was on the phone with, presumably, Michelle, and waved me over. I told her I got a text and she nodded. She was kind of switching back and forth between talking to me and Michelle. She told me they had switched me back to my old plan and given me the free month for the trouble. Switching to the new plan right then would’ve taken 48 hours, a long time to have no service.

She had me restart the phone, then did a test call to another phone, and had me verify the number was correct. It was. Woot, finally working.

She told me they had recently switched to a new system that was supposed to make things better, but was having a lot of glitches. The glitches should be worked out soon, and I should be able to switch after that. She thanked me for being so patient and sent me off without much fanfare.

I forgot the old SIM card and the card with numbers on it for the new one. Hopefully I won’t need those.

I tested texting and data once I got home. After a little while, I logged into the T-Mobile account page to check if I was actually on my old plan. It told me I hadn’t created an account yet, so I created a new one. They must’ve effectively wiped out the whole old account. When I finally got in, my fear was verified: I was on the $50 Simply Prepaid plan.

$50 is more than I want to pay for 10GB. If I weren’t getting a free month, I might’ve been mad. With it, I can wait the two months before my credits run out, then see if I can switch to the $40 plan at that point. Hopefully I can. For now, I have unlimited minutes and more data, which will be quite nice.