Friday, December 14, 2007

Response From T-Mobile

Update: To follow all of my posts related to the T-Mobile/Twitter issues, please click here.

Subject: T-Mobile and Twitter
Date: December 14, 2007 4:49:07 PM EST
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Dear Mr. Mertz:

My name is Marianne Maestas and I am with the Executive Customer Relations department of T-Mobile. I am contacting you on behalf of Mr. Robert Dotson in regards to the email that you sent him yesterday evening.

In your email, you express concerns, as you are not able to use your service for Twitter. As you have been advised, Twitter is not an authorized third-party service provider, and therefore you are not able to utilize service from this provide any longer. You indicate your feeling that this is a violation of the Net Neutrality.

T-Mobile would like to bring to your attention that the Terms and Conditions of service, to which you agreed at activation, indicate "... some Services are not available on third-party networks or while roaming. We may impose credit, usage, or other limits to Service, cancel or suspend Service, or block certain types of calls, messages, or sessions (such as international, 900, or 976 calls) at our discretion." Therefore, T-Mobile is not in violation of any agreement by not providing service to Twitter. T-Mobile regrets any inconvenience, however please note that if you remain under contract and choose to cancel service, you will be responsible for the $200 early termination fee that would be assessed to the account at cancellation.

Should you have any further questions, please feel free to contact Customer Care at 800-937-8997. Thank you,

Marianne Maestas,
Executive Customer Relations Specialist,
Office of the President,

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I have also sent an email to the CEO's office, in addition to T-mobiles online customer support.

I happen to run a small business, and have 5 lines with t-mobile, and have hada corporate acct for over 5 years. I would like to see if they pull the same "we don't care - cancel your contract" act with me as well.

Will keep you posted.
Well...I received a response, and it was identical to yours. So I sent this reply:
"Dear Barbara,
Thank you for your timely reply. I see that this is the same response (verbatim) you've given to other customers with this issue. It seems that from this response you are not concerned in the slightest about retaining your customer. Are you saying you would rather all customers that have such a problem with this simply pay $200 and cancel their contract?

Or could you possibly elaborate on why you selectively choose to block Twitter? I really don't think you are considering the repercussions of this type of decision, and the media attention T-mobile is likely to garner as a result.

As I mentioned, I have a Business Plan w/T-Mobile (and have had for years) and am incredulous that your recommended solution to this problem is that I cancel my service.

I would truly like to know the reasoning behind this, if you are at liberty to share. Why Twitter? It's not an International, 900 or 976 call. I'm really curious.

Looking forward to a response,
My response:


What you quoted me from your terms and conditions does not apply to this situation. You are specifying that some services are not available on third party networks, however, my current situation is that I am on T-Mobile's network and T-Mobile's network is blocking me from sending a message to a valid SMS short code. This would be very similar to you telling me that I am not able to call my sister because her phone number is in an area code that is not serviced by T-Mobile. If my phone was using an AT&T tower at the time I had the problem them I can understand where that would fit the terms and conditions but I am using a T-Mobile tower.

I am very disappointed in T-Mobile over this and I'm more shocked that T-Mobile is willing to create a huge negative image of themselves over something such as this.

Bob Mertz
You guys are barking up the wrong tree with the "net neutrality" and "like blocking a phone number" arguments. Shortcodes aren't phone numbers. They're value-added services that don't support voice communications, so they're not regulated by the FCC, or included in standards like E.164 that ensure interoperability of voice numbers.

It's always been up to phone companies to decide which shortcodes they support. Says so right on the Common Short Code Administration website. So don't expect any arguments comparing blocking Twitter to blocking your sister to influence T-Mobile.

Even if every Twitter user on T-Mobile changed phone companies, it's probably not enough to hurt an international company lke T-Mobile. The shortcode will probably stay blocked until Twitter and T-Mobile work out some sort of financial deal. (Although if phone companies start expecting kickbacks from Twitter, that could be a problem for Twitter, since it doesn't even have a revenue stream yet.)
We'll be watching this closely, as our agency uses Twitter and other tools for the common good of those we proudly serve.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department
My hat has always gone off to you guys out there. It's really awesome to see people embracing new technologies when lives are at stake. Thats one of the things that came to my mind in this whole ordeal -- twitter isn't just "fun and games" ... to some people it could be life or death.
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Having worked 3 1/2 years in customer service for T-Mobile (no, not employed with them anylonger), I just wanted to say, it's a no win situation. There are lots of things that need to change at T-Mobile, starting with the ability for those that don't want to send/receive text messages to be able to have that blocked. T-Mobile will give you the song and dance that it is part of your service and that it can not be blocked. That is how they communicate with their customers. So why is it that just nearly every other wireless company provides the ability to TURN OFF text messaging all together? I hated getting the call from the upset parent who received an outragous bill due to their kid's text messaging. Granted, it is the parent's responsibility. If you are stupid enough to put a no-limits cell phone in your childs hands, you had better have the bank account to back it up. That's why prepaid and companies like Cricket and MetroPCS were invented. One flat rate, unlimited everything, no surprises. Dang it, now I'm off topic already!
You can complain to T-Mobile about not being able to use the Twitter service, but you aren't going anywhere. I suggest you look at finding a service that does allow you this ability.
I'm sure T-Mobile feels they are justified in their decision, regardless how their customers may feel. They are not a charity, they have shareholders and Deutsche Telcom to answer to, too. Perhaps they feel Twitter traffic is too much for their network, and need to reduce network congestion. Who knows, but what I'm saying is complaining about it, and making an ass of yourself with statements like "I'm a valued customer" or "I have a 5 line business account and have had for 5 years" etc get you know where. Why restate the obvious? And if you have to tell me you are a valued customer, perhaps you aren't so valued afterall. You are likely the one calling in all the time complaining about anything and everything. That's not a valued customer, go somewhere else and comaplain. Seriously
Here is my letter to t-moblile

As the Chief Technology Officer of a $550 million dollar company, I wanted to express my alarm at your blocking of Twitter. A large group of our employees use Twitter to keep contact with one another. Twitter is not a teenager's toy, it is a business tool with relavancy and impact to your core business users.

What is the rationale? Is this necessary? Is Twitter being abused in some way, or causing t-mobile harm?

Many of us at Schawk are evaluating iPhones with AT&T against t-mobile BlackBerry Storms. We carry many hundred of lines with you. I will be working with our procurement group on this issue, and posting to various industry blogs in an effort to bring your actions to light.

Please explain this action so we can understand why this has occurred.

Thank you,

Stephen Kaufman
Chief Technology Officer
Schawk Inc.
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