Hugh Howey
Hugh Howey

Bestselling author of Wool and other books. Currently sailing around the world.

Thank you, T-Mobile

I couldn’t believe what I was reading in the New York Times. A major cell phone carrier was doing away with the 2-year contract? They were going to subsidize the cost of the phone only until you paid it off, and then you quit paying for it? With zero interest? You can leave at any time, change phones at any time, and they’ll unlock the phone for you so you can travel?

But wait . . . the best is yet to come. Someone is finally doing away with the ten minutes of instructions you get whenever you call a friend and get their voicemail. You know, you can press * to leave a callback number (don’t we all have call waiting by now?), or press 1 for more options, or listen for the beep, or oh-my-god-we-have-to-treat-every-caller-like-they’ve-never-called-anyone-before-in-their-lives . . . just-in-case.

Yeah, T-Mobile is going straight to the beep. Granted, as they say in the article, it’s easy to upheave an industry when you’re at the bottom. But still, I decided to reward these business decisions by taking my business elsewhere. Goodbye sucky carrier of old, I’m now with T-Mobile. And while I was worried about reception in my house (my sucky carrier gave me half a bar at home, dropped calls, and wouldn’t send me a tower to fix the problem), my new buddy at T-Mobile actually hops onto my WiFi for my calls, giving me perfect reception! (Like that $200 tower . . . but free).

It feels good to reward excellent business practices. It would be even better if everyone else on the planet jumped ship with me. Not because it would force the rest of the sucky carriers to treat us like human beings, but because I would never again have to listen to some voice tell me what to do after the beep. Just get me to the part where I leave a message. Not that anyone listens to them, of course. They just ring me back and say, “Hey, did you just call me?”

At least, that’s what I do.

Read the story. You’ll be glad you did.

25 replies to “Thank you, T-Mobile”

This is fabulous. I’ve been irritated with AT&T for such a long time now, but figured no other carrier was any better. I’m going with T-mobile.

Thanks for the info Hugh!

Another alternative, if you are satisfied with your phone (or don’t mind buying a used one), but don’t want to pay contract prices or phone subsidies any more, is a pre-paid carrier that offers a Bring Your Own Device plan. There are several out there, which use different networks and offer varying levels of customer service. They offer a wide variety of plans and usually for far less money than you’d pay by subscribing with the network provider directly.

Personally, I’m with Page Plus (which piggybacks on Verizon), but there are a bunch out there. My Plan is 2GB Data, and Unlimited Talk/Text for $55/mo (with no taxes or fees on top of that.) Straight Talk offers pretty much the same thing for $45, but with sketchy customer service.

Interesting differences in Australia. Phones typically aren’t locked, so once you’ve finished paying them off, you’re free to switch carriers and port your existing mobile number. This is common practise with all carriers here, I believe.

I’ve stuck with the same carrier since I moved to Australia because they continue to have the best plans, even though their coverage wasn’t always as good as some of the others. They’ve improved, though.

I love T-Mobile. I switched to them about 3 years ago and have never looked back. It seems T-Mobile just keeps getting better. In 3 years I’ve never lost a call- other folks I’ve called have had dropped calls, but it’s never from my phone. In short I love my T-Mobile account. :)
Good article, and a great post Hugh!!

I just switched to T-Mobile myself. From what I’ve heard, they’ve been overwhelmed by how many people have switched over since they changed. I hope other carriers follow their example.

Really? I was hoping this would be the case, that a ton of people would jump onboard. And did you hear Google announce yesterday that the Galaxy S4 will be sold through the Play store unlocked for T-Mobile and I think AT&T?

I was torn, for sure. I think the HTC is a slicker piece of hardware, but I prefer the Samsung interface. I prefer it to naked Android, in fact. I use a Nexus 4 when I travel, and the interface feels very limited to me.

I think I just have a natural inclination to dislike Samsung because they’re big and popular now. I’m unintentionally a hipster. :(

Honestly, though, I haven’t even had a chance to play around with the HTC One yet. It was back-ordered. I should get it next Friday. Counting down the days!

I like cell phones way too much…

Maybe overwhelmed by people who had previously left. I had T-Mobile for a LONG time (kept waiting for the iPhone) and eventually switched. I had great customer service with them, however, I could never get a signal in the same places everyone else I knew were getting perfect signals. It figures they would give a damn about keeping customers AFTER I left. Good grief, they are all a bunch of crooks. :)

It’s really great to hear T-mobile actually cares about its customers at least in some countries but unfortunately not in mine. Practises of this company differ in other countries immensely. I come from Czech republic and their practises here have been for the last decade one of the worst. They formed with the other two major carriers a sort of oligopoly keeping prices incredibly high (actually more expensive calling than in UK, US, Germany etc.). When I was staying in London I couldn’t believe what benefits you can get for paying about 40-50 pounds a month (which is what I was paying back home for virtually almost nothing except calling). You don’t get top-notch phones for this (they offer some shitty ones), until recently (a month ago) you wouldn’t even get unlimited calls and texts (they still charge a lot for internet). From all of those three carriers T-mobile was the worst in terms of dealing with customers – they call you all the time to survey or advertise even when you ask them not to, they threaten you with suing when you don’t pay exactly on time, they automatically prolong your contract without any benefit whatsoever but if you wanted to switch for other carrier you would have to pay off the rest of the year’s contract etc. In other words, lucky you! Otherwise, greetings from Prague! Btw, do you know if there is any negotiation going on to sell the rights of WOOL for the Czech edition? I am sure it would be successful here although it’s not such a big market. Great fan of yours.

Well, I’m coming from the other side on this one. I’ve been with T-Mobile for 12 years now, and am thinking of jumping ship BECAUSE of the new ‘non-contract’. I certainly looked forward to getting a $500 dollar phone every 20 months at a fraction of the cost. With 3 in our family (all with smart phones), I cannot see spending $1500 on phones just to not have a contract. smart phones are WAY overpriced to have to upgrade them every year and a half or so. I have until July to get out of my ‘contract’ to make that determination.

You can still subsidize the phones if you want. Some top-end smartphones are $99 at T-Mobile, and then you pay $20 a month until the phone is paid off. Which is what you do at AT&T. The difference with T-Mobile is that once the phone is paid off, your bill comes down! And there’s no interest. It’s mind-blowing.

Yeah, a good rule of thumb: If you’re the type who always upgrades phones every time your contract’s up, this probably isn’t the way to go for you. If you feel like your phone can and should last you longer than the length of the contract, this will save you a lot of money.

I get it. But I get about 18 months from a phone as it is now. I usually limp it along until I can get a cast reduced upgrade, which is usually 20 months of a 24 month contract. Now, in T-Mobiles “no-contract” you simply pay full price for your phone – on a 2 year contract. It’s still just apples to apples. Sure, if you don’t want the new technology in a phone every other year, the deal is probably pretty good for you. Me? I like the new toy every 2 years, as the technology advances far quicker than that. The only difference is I can ‘say” i’m not on a contract, but i really am until the phone is paid for.

The new no contract plan is still awesome for people who like a new phone ever two years, or even every year. The MINIMUM payment you have to make (just for the phone) is around $20 a month, depending on how much you pay upfront. I plan on paying $40. That way I have the phone payed off by the end of the year. If I don’t want a new phone, my bill goes down and I own that phone outright (they will even unlock it for you).

If I want a new phone, I simply pay the “down payment” (which is lower then the prices to get a new phone on other carriers) and continue to pay the monthly payment towards the phone.

You are still paying the “full price” for the phone no matter what carrier you choose. T-Mobile just lets you know upfront how much the phone will cost, and lowers your bill when you pay it off. The other carriers hide the phone cost in high service payments, which don’t lower once you pay the phone off.

There is also talk about T-mo offering some kind of service where you can just trade your phone every year to get the newest one, and your $20 payment just continues.

Even with the phone payment, my bill is lower then it was with Verizon. I don’t see anyway that this new plan is bad for customers. Unless you have bad credit–then you’ll have to pay a higher down payment (which will lower you’re monthly payment).

Always nice to see competitive activity in the marketplace. We hopped from US Cellular to Verizon almost 2 years ago, and haven’t been happy with the service.

I was pleased to see T Mobile ditch the contract and do something a bit game changing, and we’ll definitely look at them as our contract with Verizon comes up. The ability to avoid a long term contract is a big plus for me.

I get back to the UK fairly regularly to visit family and was floored by how easy it is to get cell phone service on a non-contract basis. The pay-as-you-go options are also rather nice as you can just pop into almost any corner shop and buy minutes when you need them.

Yup. This is what I did while traveling. Calls back to the US were very cheap compared to if I used my existing phone. I bought an unlocked Nexus 4 for my travels, and just picked up SIM cards in airports. Can’t wait for the day that international roaming is so cheap that we don’t have to deal with that hassle, though.

Based on a few of your comments and that you currently have the Nexus 4, it’s worth noting that if you want the “next” Nexus (i.e. the S4 with stock Android) you won’t be able to subsidize it. It’s sold FOR T-Mobile and AT&T, not BY them.

So you’ll have to shell out $650 up front. I personally wouldn’t do that. T-Mobile has got it right with allowing you to subsidize their phones into your plan but in this case it doesn’t help.

I love what T-Mobile is doing. I just wish they had better coverage in my area.

Has anyone looked at Ting.com? They have no contract and you only pay for what you use. If you don’t use all of your data for that month, they just bill you for the next lower tier. Same with text and minutes. I love that idea! The down side is that it uses the Sprint network on the backend. Another service not well supported in my area. Go figure!

i looked at the pricing and if you finance 4 phones on a 4 line t-mo family plan is the same as my 4 line AT&T plan. and with AT&T i usually get an upgrade after 18 months or so on every line and i don’t have to wait 2 years.

We made the switch from ATT to T-Mobile pretty much the moment our contract with AT&T was up. Luckily had no problems getting the iPhones unlocked and switched over. Now with half the bill. It’s fantastic.

I made the switch to t mobile 10 months ago when I heard there was a no contract plan and have been very happy I did. Are you trying to be the new spokesman? I’m sure you’d be stunning in a pink dress!

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