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Some mobile phone relationships are just not meant to be



Updated: October 22, 2012 6:23AM

D ear Fixer: I had a Sprint phone for years. My mother and sister switched to the T-Mobile plan, which was $30 for 1,500 minutes and texting. I thought that was a good deal.

So I bought a T-Mobile phone at Walmart, then stopped in the T-Mobile store in Mokena to see if they could activate it and port over my existing phone number.

They said they could do that, but I would need to put $30 on the phone with my credit card and it would take about 24 hours for my Sprint number to be ported over.

Twenty-four hours led to 48 hours … then five days later, they said they needed to give me a temporary phone number and PIN to make it easier to port over my old number.

After seven days of still not having my old number ported over, we called customer service again and they said to just bring everything back and get my money back.

I never was able to use the new phone at all. I got a refund for the phone at Walmart. Then I stopped at T-Mobile to tell them what their customer service told me about getting my money back from them.

It has now been over 2

½ weeks and I’ve made dozens of phone calls. The amount I am owed is $32.25 including tax.

I ended up going two doors down from the T-Mobile store to AT&T and bought a new phone and they ported over my old Sprint number right there at the store.

Todd Price, Oak Forest

Dear Todd: It seems your relationship with T-Mobile just wasn’t meant to be. Your secretary told The Fixer that you toughed it out in about 30 phone conversations with various customer service reps, to no avail.

We got this to Scott Goldberg, senior communications manager at the wireless company. He got to the bottom of this right away. They determined that as you said, the pre-paid refill card you purchased at that T-Mobile location was never used. They’re cutting a refund check for $32.25 and sending it your way.

It pays to complain

The Fixer often hears from readers who were caught in a scam but don’t know where to complain. The answer is: everywhere! And the reason is because you can help build a case and possibly get your money back.

For example, the Federal Trade Commission on Thursday just announced that the operators of a telemarketing scheme will pay $7.5 million to settle their consumer fraud case. According to the FTC, these guys allegedly contacted financially strapped consumers who’d applied for online payday loans and offered to give them a “platinum” credit card with a credit limit of up to $9,500. All the consumer had to do was pay an advance fee of $99 and a monthly fee of $19 (which, by the way, is crazy-high, but the scam gets even worse).

After they paid their money, the consumers soon found out the Platinum Trust Card and the Express Platinum Card were not normal cards like Visa or MasterCard. According to the FTC, they could only be used to purchase off-brand, overpriced products at the defendants’ own online store — and using them would do nothing to help the consumers rebuild their credit.

The good news is the feds stopped this scheme as part of their ongoing crackdown on scams affecting hard-hit consumers.

The FTC has had other successes. Earlier this month, they announced they are sending 93,086 refund checks totaling nearly $2.3 million to consumers who allegedly were charged hidden fees tied to the bogus “Google Money Tree” scam. The scam, which had nothing to do with the real Google, enticed down-on-their-luck consumers with promises that they could make up to $100,000 in six months with a special work-at-home kit.

So it is worth complaining.

To complain effectively, write up a synopsis of what happened, including as many dates and details as possible. You can copy and paste that online with various agencies. Some places to complain are:,, and . All have online complaint forms. (And of course, send a copy to The Fixer!)

Getting the runaround over a consumer problem? Tell it to The Fixer at , where you’ll find a simple form to fill out. You’ll also find a list of consumer contacts and tips. Because of the large volume of submissions, The Fixer can’t personally reply to every problem. Letters are edited for length and clarity.

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