Giving Up On T-Mobile

post by jefftk (jkaufman) · 2021-11-21T16:50:05.212Z · LW · GW · 6 comments

I'd been thinking of moving away from T-Mobile since their depressingly cavalier account messaging a few weeks ago where they sent what were effectively "your account is in the process of being hacked" notifications as part of migrating to a new billing system.

This billing migration continues to be poorly handled, and after a series of conflicting messages I no longer have service:

2021-11-02: As part of your new My T-Mobile experience, your Autopay feature needs to be re-setup prior to your next bill cycle date. To avoid a service interruption, please login and re-setup your Autopay at [url]

2021-11-18: Please refill your plan within the next 3 days to ensure continued T-Mobile service at [url] or press 611. Please disregard if you've already paid for next month's service.

I tried to log in and update my billing information. The service was extremely slow and it timed out after I entered my credit card information. I thought I probably hadn't successfully enabled autopay, but I wasn't sure.

2021-11-18: Your T-Mobile plan will renew in two days via AutoPay with an estimated charge of $30.00 before taxes/fees/surcharges. Thank you for being a T-Mobile customer.

I took this to mean that my credit card change had actually gone through, and I was all set.

2021-11-20: Please refill your plan before 12:01am tomorrow to ensure continued T-Mobile service by visiting [url] or dial 611. Please disregard if you've already paid for next month's service.

I received three of these, one after another. This was surprising, but it did say to disregard if I had already paid. I thought there was a good chance that my service was going to be cancelled, but at this point I was grumpy enough that I figured that if they cancelled my service that was fine with me.

2021-11-20: Auto-Pay is cancelled. Your next T-Mobile plan payment will not be paid automatically. To re-enroll, call *233 or visit [url].

2021-11-21: Your T-Mobile service has been suspended. To restore service, contact your Primary Account Holder or make a payment at [url].

None of this is that bad, but it was frustrating enough that I decided to move away. I care about cost, hassle, and the chance that my account is stolen, and Google Fi (disclosure: I work for Google, speaking only for myself) seemed like a solid option. The marginal cost was $20/month, since Julia already uses it. She's had a good experience, and Google is probably the company I trust most for security. I've now switched; it was simple, didn't need a SIM, and my phone number ported quickly.

The only wart so far is that since I ported my number from Google Voice (I had been using GV without giving out my underlying number) I wasn't able to read my old messages in GV until I signed up for a new number. The way I would have liked this to work would be for my GV history to move over to Fi, and I'm sad they didn't set that up.

6 comments

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comment by ChristianKl · 2021-11-24T12:40:46.570Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What happens when one's Google account gets banned because someone algorithm feels like there's a content violation?

The prospect of getting locked out of mobile phone service and my email at the same time seems frightening.

Replies from: jkaufman
comment by jefftk (jkaufman) · 2021-11-24T14:58:13.948Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This seems very unlikely to me? While I've seen a few news stories about people being locked out (a) they're rare enough to be news when they happen and (b) there are typically other factors, with borderline or abusive behaviors I wouldn't do.

(Additionally, I'm less worried about this because I work for Google and know a lot of other people that work for Google, but that isn't a factor for most people considering this)

Replies from: ChristianKl
comment by ChristianKl · 2021-11-24T19:53:10.944Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Stories about banned Google accounts look like:

Here is an example of how this can go awry. A slew of YouTube users had their Google accounts (not just their YouTube accounts) banned for “spamming” a video feed with Emojis. However, the YouTuber who created the video in question encouraged users to do just that, so Google didn’t have to go so far as to perform full account bans. To make matters worse, it took Google days before it reactivated everyone’s accounts. Even then, some experienced data loss.

Official Google Docs abuse policy does seem to indicate that banning people account for wrong speech is plausible:

We need to curb abuses that threaten our ability to provide these services, and we ask that everyone abide by the policies below to help us achieve this goal. After we are notified of a potential policy violation, we may review the content and take action, including restricting access to the content, removing the content, and limiting or terminating a user’s access to Google products.

[..]

Do not distribute content that deceives, misleads, or confuses users. This includes:

Misleading content related to civic and democratic processes: content that is demonstrably false and could significantly undermine participation or trust in civic or democratic processes. This includes information about public voting procedures, political candidate eligibility based on age / birthplace, election results, or census participation that contradicts official government records. It also includes incorrect claims that a political figure or government official has died, been involved in an accident, or is suffering from a sudden serious illness.

Misleading content related to harmful conspiracy theories: content that promotes or lends credibility to beliefs that individuals or groups are systematically committing acts that cause widespread harm. This content is contradicted by substantial evidence and has resulted in or incites violence.

Misleading content related to harmful health practices: misleading health or medical content that promotes or encourages others to engage in practices that may lead to serious physical or emotional harm to individuals, or serious public health harm.

Manipulated media: media that has been technically manipulated or doctored in a way that misleads users and may pose a serious risk of egregious harm.

Replies from: jkaufman
comment by jefftk (jkaufman) · 2021-11-24T22:20:15.247Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In the YouTube emoji case, people were doing something that looked abusive to the automated system, and then the manual review got it wrong. Then, after additional review, YouTube acknowledged they got it wrong, put things back, and said they were going to work on making this less likely in the future. This doesn't seem like enough of a risk to care?

In the case of the TOS, there are all sorts of worrying things in most TOS. In general, I don't think this sort of thing is worth worrying about unless the company is actually doing something.

comment by Bjartur Tómas · 2021-11-21T17:16:37.493Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Really wish I could get GV is Canada.

Replies from: jjbalisan
comment by jjbalisan · 2021-11-21T19:21:09.821Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I currently do this, If you setup GV while in the US, it works fine in Canada