THIS is not a typical blog post. This is more like an open letter, and I’m writing it because what I have to say won’t fit in the hundred-and-forty characters of a tweet.
WE’VE been with Cricket for several years. We liked the unlimited data and texting, and the flat-rate pricing. Last year I bought a new phone from them, and I picked one that was 4G-ready even though we didn’t have 4G service in the area at the time. The manager of the local Cricket store assured me that the phone would automatically switch to 4G when the service came in. It was just taking a while for the phone services to update to 4G in the local area. Fine, I thought.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago. There was still no 4G service on my phone, but I’m patient, I can wait. And I went into the store to pay the bill, and couldn’t help but notice that they were advertising 4G LTE phones.
“So when’s 4G coming in?” I asked.
“It’s already on,” says the girl at the counter.
“So why isn’t my phone on 4G now?”
And at this point she explained to me that Cricket had been bought by AT&T. And that as part of that, they’d torn up the assurances that the manager had given me. If I wanted 4G, I had to buy a new phone. And an identical replacement would cost $430, and they’d give me $80 for the old one, so I’d be replacing a perfectly good phone with an identical one, and be $350 out of pocket.
So much for the assurances.
I called Cricket’s 800 number and explained my displeasure. No result. I explained at least three times in the store that I was not pleased and I wanted something done. No result.
And then, a few days ago, my wife and I went to the store to pay this month’s bill, and the girl behind the counter told us that if we didn’t buy new phones by the end of March, we’d have no service because our old phones would stop working.
At this point I felt like we were being blackmailed. And I don’t like that.
I’ve noticed in the past that Americans generally seem to think that being ripped off by businesses is just the way the world is. That when they get ripped off, it’s not the business’s fault, but their own fault for not seeing it coming. And that it’s ok for businesses to behave that way.
But I’m not American. I’m British, and it is not ok to behave like that. AT&T already knows this, because a few years ago they tried the practise known as cramming on us—and they were promptly reported to the state utilities commission, who sued them and fined them. So we know what AT&T is like, and I have to say they don’t seem to have learned or changed.
This time we’d had enough. We went straight to another phone carrier, and bought new phones, and had our numbers and service torn away from Cricket and AT&T.
And then, today, I went back to the Cricket store. I’d already paid the month’s bill, you see, when we were told about the phones ceasing to work at the end of March. The same day that we switched to another service provider. So we’d paid for a month’s service, and then switched no more than a couple of hours later. So we want our money back. But, of course, that would mean AT&T/Cricket playing fair, and they’re not going to do that if it means losing a few bucks. So they said it was non-refundable.
At that point, annoyed, I tweeted about it. And where the phone calls and the complaints in the store had achieved nothing, going public on Twitter got a response from Cricket in less than sixty seconds. “Sorry to hear that. What can we do to help change your mind?!?” they asked. “A bit late for that,” I replied.
So there it is. Take this for what it’s worth. I’m not going to tell anyone not to use Cricket or AT&T. I’m sure many people get adequate service from them, or have their own horror stories about other service providers. But this is what happened to us; you have been warned.