Telephone Customer Service Is Not a Panacea


#1

From time to time, we see requests that Republic add inbound telephone customer service to its support repertoire. First, I will say that for certain things (billing issues for example), the ability to call a company is generally more efficient. That said, inbound telephone customer service is by no means a panacea. Some background:

Some here know that I was also once active in the Community of Republic’s former sister service RingTo. RingTo is being sunset as of March 31st, so it’s time to retrieve any numbers there I wish to hold onto. One of those numbers I wish to move to Google Voice. Like Republic numbers, RingTo numbers are deemed by the FCC to be wireline (landline) numbers. Google Voice does not transfer in wireline numbers, necessitating something I affectionately refer to as the TMO shuffle. Essentially, one makes the number wireless by first transferring it to T-Mobile (or another wireless carrier), then transfers from there to Google Voice.

Knowing this day would eventually come, I stocked up on T-Mobile SIMs at $0.99 apiece during a sale. Today, I attempted to activate one of those SIMs only to have T-Mobile’s online activation tool refuse to do so. I dutifully called T-Mobile to find out what the problem might be. I got the TMO shuffle alright as I was shuffled back and forth between prepaid activations, web sales (I had ordered the SIMs directly from T-Mobile) and “solutions”. All dutifully explained to me that all six SIMs were expired according to T-Mobile’s systems. Please understand I purchased these SIMs in late 2016. A more recently purchased T-Mobile SIM likely wouldn’t be an issue. Despite that these SIMs (like all unactivated GSM SIMs) are supposed to have a three-year shelf life. These specific SIMs state on their packaging expiration is 8/4/2018. No one at T-Mobile I spoke to on the phone could explain why given that their systems were telling them they had already expired and could not be activated.

The moral of the story? How customer service is delivered is far less important than the folks actually delivering it. Generally, my experience with Republic via ticket (I’ve never used chat) has been positive. That’s a credit to the folks helping regardless of the delivery mechanism of that help. My experience this morning with T-Mobile on the phone was pathetic. Full disclosure, prior to this morning’s experience, I’ve found T-Mobile’s customer service to be more than adequate.


Hybrid/Bonded calling vs VoLTE vs WiFi Calling?
#2

I wil say chat worked great for me. When I had to change from
gsm to cdma. Every thing was done in about 10 min. Then got
the Email sim was on its way took only 2 days to recieve it


#3

I hate waiting on hold so I’m fine without it.


#4

I hadn’t intended to follow-up, however, errands took me to a location that happened to have a T-Mobile store there. So, I took my not supposed to be expired T-Mobile SIMs and paid a visit. First, I got an explanation as to why they were expired. According to the manager at the store, T-Mobile had switched SKUs on their SIMs and in doing so SIMs using the old SKU were expired regardless of printed expiration date. After some minor resistance, he graciously replaced the SIMs with fresh ones.

If Republic is looking to expand means of interacting with customers, I’d much rather see the concept of its Raleigh popup shop expanded to more markets than invest in inbound telephone customer service. I fully understand that for a small company like Republic expanding a brick and mortar presence is likely cost prohibitive but there’s still much to be said for personal face to face interaction in our online Internet age.

Along those lines, I sometimes find myself contemplating the probably crazy idea of local (not virtual) Republic user groups. Once upon a time (pre-Internet), this was how folks with a shared interest in technology commonly interacted.