T-Mobile: your dead dad's active phone will let you stay in touch

Robert, a Consumerist reader, called up T-Mobile to close his dead father's cellular account; the rep suggested that he should keep paying for it so he could listen to his dad's voice on the voicemail message whenever he wanted.

Robert had a line for his dad on his account, and called up T-Mobile to cancel. “The loyalty rep asked me if he had a voicemail set up,” Richard wrote to Consumerist. “I said yes. She then asked if I wouldn’t want to keep the extra line open so that I could call it and hear his voice whenever I want to. How low is that?”

Pretty low, but we’ve heard of similar tactics in the past. Fortunately, when we alerted T-Mobile to this incident, they found it upsetting too. Robert sent us an update shortly after Big Magenta contacted him. After we sent his letter to T-Mobile’s media relations team, someone from the office of the president called him. “She apologized for how their salesperson tried to keep my line open,” Robert told Consumerist. “She said that it’s not how they train their people, and the rep would be re-trained.”

T-Mobile Rep Encourages Me To Keep Dead Dad’s Mobile Line Open To Hear His Voice [Laura Northrup/The Consumerist]

(Image: John Beattie Eugene Rochas seance, Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain)

Notable Replies

  1. Arg, that is genuinely hard.

    When I pass away my life is stored on $service. Really, it is. I think it might be slightly less ephemeral than photo books.

    So is the rep that mentioned the option sensitive or not savvy enough to walk the grieving person on their options?

    I for one cast no stones in this circumstance.

  2. Pffft. Typical amateur service from T-Mobile. Verizon will offer you help to dig up your dead relative so you can take one last selfie with them.

  3. tropo says:

    I work for a phone company and people
    asking for this is a real thing. If there is a way to tactfully raise
    the option it should be done, rather than somebody thinking of it next
    day after everything's been wiped.

    How about offer people a way to retrieve the stored data before you close the account? That shouldn't be so hard. I think holding the account open just so you can hear their voice is a little more than crappy, and if people really don't know any better and think they need your service to continue to hear the recording... You can see where this looks like you are taking advantage right? "We have the last recording of your dead relative, and you are closing the account, but maybe you want to leave the account open just so you can hear it? "

  4. Instead of being shitbags, why not just have a built in dead relative response that is actually sane? If someone reports that the reason why the line is being canceled because the person is dead, close the line differently from normal. Namely, save the data for a year and ask if they want the public stuff sent via e-mail or whatever. Hell, just keep the fucking line open and let them know what it will stop taking messages after a week or two. If someone calls sobbing because they don't want you to turn it off, don't fucking charge them the cost of a line, charge them the cost of having a glorified answering machine... which is nothing, or so close to nothing that it is a rounding error.

    It takes almost no effort to not be a shit. Whatever handful of cash a phone company might get from dead people who don't cancel isn't worth the pissed customers when a douchebag sales rep suggest you keep shelling out to pay for a dead person.

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