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T-Mobile accused of misleading customers about home Internet service

A T-Mobile home Internet gateway. (Still frame courtesy T-Mobile, Graphic by The Desk)

A former employee of telecom giant T-Mobile says the wireless phone company is misleading its customers about the status of their home Internet product.

The claim comes after numerous T-Mobile Home Internet customers said support agents have been unable to assist with numerous technical problems associated with the all-inclusive, $50 a month service.

According to some customers, agents have been passing off various technical problems as temporary outages involving tower upgrades that are not taking place, among other excuses.

On Tuesday, the technology website Tom’s Hardware published a story that contained information provided by a purported former employee of T-Mobile. The former employee reportedly told a writer at the website that customer service agents frequently used the “tower upgrade” excuse when they were unable to provide a remedy for Internet-related issues.

“I could tell you stories all day long about calls from customers with issues on their home internet service that never got solved, because no one in any of those departments, no matter how high up the chain we went, had any idea how to fix the problem,” the source reportedly said.

The writer, Brandon Hill, said he experienced this first-hand when he called T-Mobile’s customer support to report a problem with his Home Internet service. After an agent told Hill he would try a few problem-solving techniques, the agent ultimately came to the conclusion that tower maintenance was the reason for his outage.

The “tower upgrade” excuse reportedly helps convince customers to end their support call, which allowed them to keep the calls under 10 minutes, according to the report, which added that customer support agents are required to keep calls under 10 minutes, or they face derogatory remarks on their performance reviews.

A spokesperson for T-Mobile affirmed the company uses performance metrics to evaluate customer service agents and the support they provide, adding that the metrics are “standard in our industry and others.”

The former employee reportedly told Hill that if a tower was really being maintained, a customer service representative would know that from the get-go and would tell subscribers at the beginning of their call, not toward the end.

A tech expert who spoke with Hill for his report said T-Mobile spent too much time marketing and rolling out its Home Internet product without fully understanding the technology that powers it or making sure towers are equipped to handle the sudden surge in connections.

“It has a lot to do with towers that still exist in the wild that aren’t capable of handling connections for multiple reasons,” the expert, who was identified by Hill as “Chris,” reportedly said. “There are still Sprint towers that need to be fully integrated, and older towers that just don’t support enough connections to be reliable. All of this upgrading happens with little-to-no notice because they don’t think it’s necessary when there are towers nearby that should be a good fallback. Not so true for the home internet users.”

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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