(Scroll to bottom for update)
With the new tiered data and minute plans coming soon, a question that has been frequently asked is "Will I be forced to switch?" Up to this point, the answer had been "no", as many of the USCC sales reps who are members here have said they have customers on old plans who are allowed to keep those plans.
Well, apparently, certain grandfathered plans are to be no more. This "new and improved" US Cellular no longer seems to be your grandfather's US Cellular, if you'll pardon the pun. Read on for more information on this.
Right off the bat, let me say that *I believe* that all current Belief Plans are safe. Again, just my belief (no pun intended). Yesterday I spoke to two corporate RWC's who told me that no one would be forced to switch to the new plans.
Well, as you can see from the above screen capture from US Cellular's Facebook page (this is all public info on their FB page), certain customers are receiving letters telling them that their grandfathered plans are going away.
Here is the "official USCC" response from the Social Team:
Let's break it down: "In order to provide the best customer service"...we are taking your plan away from you. Yes, the plan that saves you the most money, and giving you a plan that will make us more money.
"...enhance our products and services..." Again, we're hurting for money due to the fact that we're bleeding hemmorhaging customers, so we're going to put it on your back. Glad you're willing to help out!
"...we must modify and discontinue some of our older, outdated products and services..." Hmm? No, we're not doing away with products like phones that are 6-8 months old before they hit our shelves; products are only outdated if they don't make us more money.
"If your wireless needs have changed..." Of course, when we say your needs we really mean our needs.
Ok, I'm done being snarky. But seriously, I'm starting to detect a move away from "customer first" to "revenue first". To me this response to a customer's concern, while maybe the company line, is failing to listen to the customer. He said his needs haven't changed, what is changing is that you are taking away his plan and giving him one that is going to cost him more, even though his needs haven't changed. Then you tell him if his needs have changed, he should look at your other plans? Not cool, man, not cool.
I see this refusal to listen in many of the responses from the so called "Social Team", whether on FB or Twitter. Customers ask if USCC is going to get the BlackBerry Bold 9930, and the response is "Have you checked out our line of Android devices?" Now I'm not anti-Android; but as a BlackBerry user (i.e., a person who has evaluated his smartphone needs and felt that BB best fits those needs) it gets rather tiring being constantly pushed onto Android devices. I see customers on the USCC FB page ask if the iPhone is ever coming to USCC, and the response is "Check out our new 4G devices! It's 4G so it must be awesome!!" Of course, there's always the old standby response "Stay Tuned for more details!" Well it seems lately that all we're doing is standing by and staying tuned, and you are tuning us out.
Listen, for those of you who are going to blindly defend USCC, I understand that no plan lasts "forever." But the excuse that this is being done to "improve customer service" is just a load, plain and simple. It's being done to increase revenue. Then the argument will be made "Well once they have more revenue they can get better phones". I don't see it happening. USCC is too small to get phones released at the same time as the other carriers, especially when you throw in the extended testing periods. I don't use Android or iPhone, but I feel for the people who want to use those newer devices, and either never get the chance or have to wait 6-8 months after the other carriers.
US Cellular corporate, if you're reading this (and I suspect you are), start listening to your customers. You used to listen, but somewhere along the way, you quit hearing us. We realize you have to pay the bills (but so do we, and charging us more per month in this economy makes that more difficult.) We realize 4G LTE costs money. We realize Samsung and HTC and Motorola aren't exactly falling over themselves to supply you with US Cellular-specific devices. We get that. But we also get that you are starting to act like like you think you are AT&T or Verizon.
Many of your customers switched to you because you used to be a company that put the customers first. Well it seems that is going the way of unlimited data...or the way of former USCC customers.
Have any of our TUSCC readers received these letters? If so we'd love to hear from you.
Current customers, how about you? Ticked off? Ok with the new shift in policy? Sound off in the comments.
UPDATE: Thanks to Adam for posting an updated comment from the Facebook thread. I wanted to put it here in the article so people will see it. Basically it sounds like only the "1%" are being affected by these changes, and the rest of us in the "99%" are safe.
I still have an issue with the lack of communication though. This "clarification" from the Social Team came a whole day later. This same fellow could have posted this info earlier on in the FB thread, and diffused the whole situation. Maybe he didn't have the info to post; my point about lack of communication still stands.
Here's the update:
"Based on the conversations happening within this thread we’d like to take a moment to bring some clarity to the topic. Later this year we’ll be enhancing some of our internal systems, in this new environment some of our old plans will no longer be supported. Approximately 1% of customers will be impacted by this change and discontinuation of their older U.S. Cellular plan. All impacted customers have been or will be notified, via letter, outlining the basis of this transition.
Do know that the account of each impacted customer was reviewed in depth and a new plan which either provides similar, or in many cases even more value, was chosen. In the instance of a price increase of the monthly plan cost, U.S. Cellular will be applying a monthly credit to offset this difference in price for the duration of one year. This discount is highlighted in any letter where a price increase may have resulted. We want to ensure that any impacted customer has ample time to decide if this plan works for them without paying any more, or has the time they need to find an alternative plan that better suits their needs. Lastly we wanted to ensure everyone knows that we will still honor 99% of our "grandfathered" plans and have no intention to change that. ^ Sharif, USCC Social Team"