An Open Letter to CREDO Mobile, the carrier that cares.
Well, maybe they do. Maybe they are just like the rest of the mobile carriers.
Let’s talk about the state of mobile phones and mobile carriers for a minute.
The big 4:
All of the mobile carriers have been duking it out in the services, features, and benefits wars for quite some time. And a few years ago, one carrier (I believe it was T-Mobile) made the strategic move to stop their predatory and anti-competitive practice of locking customers in using new phones and oppressive 2-year contracts. In 2017, the other three carriers quickly followed suit as the consumers responded to being released from this bad business practice. The era of CARRIER and HARDWARE being interchangeable was upon us. We all benefited.
Well, some of the smaller mobile carriers haven’t gotten the memo. And last week, in June 2019, my cool little carrier pulled a shady move when I swapped a sim card from my iPhone XR (2019) to my brother’s old iPhone X (2018). I did the swap late on a Friday evening and did the work of resyncing and backing up our iPhones over the iCloud service. And for the entire weekend, my XR worked fine on friend’s Verizon account. And my X, with my conscious carrier CREDO also worked fine.
Credo Disabled My iPhone on Monday Afternoon
I was surprised when my text conversation with my daughter abruptly ended with “message not sent” errors on my previously working iPhone X. I could not use the #611 dial to get CREDO on the phone, because I was now in that terrifying state of, no phone.
[I’m not sure, but something feels illegal about that action taken by CREDO. If my device were connected to my medical care or required by my job (as it is, but I was off on Friday.) wouldn’t CREDO be held responsible if something disastrous occurred after they disabled my phone.]
So I got on my computer and was introduced to Angelica.
And let’s just say the conversation didn’t go well, and it didn’t go as planned. I have included the entire transcript in a separate document if you’d like to read the car crash of a customer service call. I don’t want to tell you that I was 100% on my best behavior, I was a bit pissed. This was the second massive CREDO support cluster I had dealt with in two weeks.
CREDO Has a Pattern of Phone/Contract Lock-in Strategies
Three weeks ago, I purchased a new unlocked iPhone XR from Apple. The current phones from most carriers are now network agnostic. Meaning, they are all unlocked. As we describe it at the Apple Store:
Apple is your hardware company for your phone
Your carrier sells you the airtime.
We all work together now.
Well, with CREDO a few weeks ago that’s not how things went down.
When I called CREDO to tell them I’d gotten a new iPhone they wanted to know what happened to my old iPhone 8 that they had sold me, on a two-year commitment and contract.
“I lost it,” I lied.
“Oh, I’m sorry about that. We are happy to get you a new phone…”
“No, it’s okay, I work at Apple. I have a brand new iPhone XR. I just need to activate it on CREDO.”
“Okay, sir, let me check into that for you. Give me a minute. I’ll be right back.”
She came back and informed me that I needed a CREDO sim card and that they would ship me a new one. Really? I can’t buy and activate a phone on the same day? Does my carrier have to ship me a new phone? (That’s the CREDO line, they require I buy my phone from them so they have to ship me the phone with their sim card inside.) Don’t you think that sounds an awful lot like the carrier lock-in practices pre-2017.
“Okay, ship me a new sim. How long will that take?”
“We will get it out in the next 24-hours, so you should see it in the next 2 – 3 business days.”
“Wow, that sucks. Okay. I guess I’ll follow your lead on this.”
Two days later when the CREDO sim card arrived I was excited to activate my new (product) RED iPhone XR. I popped in the sim card expecting an immediate WIN. The phone did not work. I put the sim card back in my broken iPhone 8 and called #611 for CREDO SUPPORT.
During this call I was informed that I could not bring my own phone to CREDO. They thanked me for being a member, “We appreciate your support of the environment, by being a CREDO member for over ten years.” But at her customer support level, there was nothing she could do for me.
“What do you mean? Does Apple know you don’t allow their unlocked phones on your network?”
“I’m sorry sir, is there anything else I can help you with?
And then I took to Twitter.
I’ve been working Twitter since the early days. And while my following is not “famous level” it does catch the attention of customer service departments when someone starts riffing on them on Twitter. So I tweet to the other carriers if they thought it was okay for CREDO Mobile to not allow outside phones to be activated on their networks.
And again, for clarification, I have been with CREDO for ten years because I believe in their mission. At least their activist mission. Here’s CREDO Mobile’s Twitter header.
And their response took a few hours, but the answer was very different.
And let’s just say, after my tweet softened them up, they allowed this “one-time” variation on their policy. A policy which I was thinking about writing about even after they fixed my one-time issue. But it wasn’t a one-time issue. The no-outside-carrier-phone issue is BULLSHIT. And I think CREDO knows it’s bullshit. And if they are the carrier with a conscious, they will also see how out of integrity this “no-outside-phone” policy is. My message to CREDO Mobile, WAKE UP AND GET WITH THE PROGRAM.
My Problems Did Not End With CREDO Mobile Two Weeks Ago
Fast forwarding back to last weekend, when CREDO disabled my iPhone X even though it had a perfectly functional CREDO sim card, that’s when we hit a MAJOR SNAG in customer service, transparency, and even CREDO’s operating policy. If CREDO mobile is aligned for GOOD on the planet, and for all people of the planet, how can they still be using CARRIER LOCK-IN practices in 2019? The answer is, they cannot. Well, they can… BUT IT IS WRONG. AND this post is to BRING CREDO MOBILE’S PROBLEM to light.
CREDO MOBILE’S PROBLEM
The real problem happened when I called last weekend to get them to simply reactivate the iPhone X that had been working for 2.5 days. The customer service rep, Angelica, was doing her best under challenging and difficult circumstances. But as you will see, by the end of the conversation, she basically apologized for the poor CREDO policy, claiming she was an “employee of Credo, I don’t make the policy.”
However, during our “chat” a number of lies were used to batter me into submission. The ones that come to mind:
- I’m sorry you are have having hardware/technical difficulties.
- That’s why we don’t allow outside phones on the CREDO network.
- It seems like your service degraded today, I’m sorry you are having network difficulties.
- We do not disable phones.
The real truth of their policy is this: CREDO does not allow outside phones because they want to lock you into the carrier/contract for two years. When I was telling the agent Angelica, that I was going to cancel my services and go with another carrier that was fine with me bringing my own devices, she said, “Well that’s going to cost you $380 dollars.”
She was misguided that I would be concerned about $380, and perhaps that would convince me to stay put and shut up. I was doing neither.
To breakdown the breakdown of lies from CREDO Mobile is simple.
- CREDO Mobile did not want me to activate a full-unlocked Apple iPhone on their network, because that would mean I was not financially obligated to them for my future service.
- CREDO Mobile lied several times about the nature of my issue. They were trying to make it seem like the problem was with my hardware or sim card. The problem was they turned off my phone because it was not purchased from CREDO.
- CREDO Mobile is still using predatory carrier lock strategies that were abandoned by the real carriers over two years ago.
- CREDO Mobile ONLY fixed my issue the first time because I have a big Twitter following and was beginning to make waves for them.
- CREDO Mobile has offered to fix my issue again, but again, it was due to my Twitter pressure.
Over the last week, as I was contemplating wasting all this time writing up a CREDO Mobile takedown article, I was not sure if I wanted to spend the time. My friends and family demanded I expose this BS policy and the lie that it exposes about this “carrier with a conscience.” Today, I swapped the CREDO sim back into the iPhone X. The phone is working fine. I replied to an email from CREDO support asking for IMEI and CCMI numbers off the new phone. I am hoping that my response, via email, keeps any further disconnect from taking place today or, more likely, Monday afternoon, when CREDO Mobile wakes up in California.
Dear CREDO Mobile,
Do the right thing in your business, as you profess to do in your activist policies. Do not use carrier lock-in tactics with your customers. Ever.
I look foward to many more years with Credo Mobile, but I will cancel and move to an unconscious carrier if you do not respond to this message in 5 business days.
Thanks for all the years of great service,
CREDO member since 2007
AND TODAY THE FUN BEGAN AGAIN (7-22-19)
Around 2pm my phone was disabled again. And of course, I could not call to resolve the issue. I checked to make sure my bill was paid. Then I called tech support who worked with me for an hour but could not figure out what was wrong. Then I told her about my previous experience with trying to bring my own device. That’s when she said I had been approved to bring the XR over about 5 weeks ago, but not the X.
We spared a bit on the phone. I assured her I had been sent an email allowing me to activate the X as well.
I disconnected the call and went and found the email and forwarded it back to CREDO.
When I called back, the second time this evening, it seems the service representative couldn’t figure out why my phone would not turn back on. I ran out of time. I was at a birthday party and the food was being served. (1:30 in phone support time lost) I poked around the CREDO site and found this.
And that made my next choice fairly easy.
Not allowing your customers to bring their own phones is the same old school shit carriers used to do with contracts. I was expecting more from a company that calls itself the “carrier with a conscience.” Well, good bye CREDO, I guess my 10+ years of loyalty isn’t enough to generate a response to my letter above. Good luck changing the world.
Wrap-up: I did get a nice email from the marketing manager who was trying to help last night after I disconnected. He saw that I had ported my number to a different carrier and apologized for their failure and empathized with my frustration. He also said he would make sure my account was zeroed out. Thanks, CREDO, for being a good sport. Now, let’s see how Verizon does.
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