Those Annoying Two-Year Cell Service Contracts

BlackBerry Bold NTTDOCOMO

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I am the guy who likes a cell phone that does what I want it to do.  Getting my email, calling or receiving calls, web and the occasional game of Break-Breaker are about all I need.  So the three generations ago Blackberry World Edition works perfect for me.

Recently, my track-ball stopped working and so I got a replacement, but not without some arm-wrestling with the sales guy that wanted me to “upgrade” to a BlackBerry Bold.  It slices, dices and probably will crawl on its belly like a reptile, but to upgrade I have to sign that stupid collusion (yes, seems all carriers have it) contract for two-years.

OK, maybe I am missing out on a camera phone (which seems to come in handy in places like Bahrain and Wisconsin).  But I am not sure I have need for 4G, which I am sure makes things faster, but why do I need faster?  This may be someones need or want, not mine.

Customer service with my current carrier (Sprint) is always entertaining and rarely good.  They say it has improved . . . haven’t noticed or heard particularly good things about any carrier with regards to customer service.  Often Sprint sends me from a “sales center” to a “service center” when I have problems with my phone.  Shouldn’t any location be a service center?

Back to the two-year contracts.  I have heard all the excuses about recovering costs and planning as the need for contracts.  Maybe if I got good service, I would want to stay.  But when you treat me poorly, I should have the option to leave the relationship, I am the consumer.

With contracts come early termination fees (ETFs) and the Utility Consumers’ Action Network (UCAN) has website on the fees charged by carrier.  It makes me wonder how much failure demand these carriers get in complaints from consumers.

It is frustrating moving from one bad carrier to another and to have to pay for the privilege is maddening.  How about improving the service first and then people won’t want to leave.  Obviously, these carriers take an inside-out approach which will cost them money or business.  A better path would be to acquiesce to these customer demands and provide what consumer’s want , the way they want it.  The first carrier that does, will win the market.

Join me for the International Deming Conference in New York City on March 21 – 22.

Tripp Babbitt is a speaker, blogger and consultant to service industry (private and public).  His organization helps executives find a better way to make the work work.  Read his articles at Quality Digest and his column for CustomermanagementIQ.com  Download free from www.newsystemsthinking.com “Understanding Your Organization as a System” and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at info@newsystemsthinking.com.  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbittor LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

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