Customer loyalty: What keeps you with your provider?

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from Kansas City, MO
Published: April 18, 2013

Ever since I heard about T-Mobile’s new uncarrier approach to cell phones and contracts (or lack thereof) I’ve been heavily thinking of switching from the only carrier I’ve ever really known in depth in order to get a taste of that new freedom. Finally a carrier who is giving the customers what they’ve wanted – essentially it’s like having our cake and eating it too. For the longest time we accepted the compromise that if we wanted a discount on a device we could certainly do so, but only in exchange for a contract that promises two years of loyalty. Every time I sign the contract I’m too enthralled with the idea of being just moments away from owning my new gadget, which had likely been the apple (or Android, or Windows, or whatever) of my eye for the past however many months. It’s only after a few days had passed and the euphoria of having a new toy dwindled did I ever really think about being with the same company for two more years.

That time is rolling around for me again and once I again I have to make the decision on whether I want to stay or leave. You see, when it comes to Sprint I'm in a bad place. They make the deal just sweet enough to stay, but there's a lot of downsides to it, as there is with probably any company. I've taken it upon myself to make a list of pros and cons of why I should stick with Sprint or if the only thing I'm "Ready Now" for is leaving the company.

It’s a short list that basically gets straight to the point: The plan is cheap because of a hefty discount but the 3G speed is the stuff of nightmares. I’ve mentioned before that I’m generally within WiFi range of places when I’m out and I only notice how slow the 3G in the rare cases when I’m not. You can tell I’m out of WiFi range when you see me wave my arm all over the place to try and “make it go faster” (it doesn’t work, but it does makes me feel better). Considering my iPhone is a 3G only device there's not a whole lot I could have done about it. However, on my next device I’m definitely getting a 4G LTE device so that’s where I feel kind of… stuck.

I like that T-Mobile explains where the pricing comes from. You know that you’re paying upwards of $100 a month for unlimited because $20 or so is going towards the price of your phone every month. After that initial 24 months is up it's good game - your bill decreases by however much you had been paying for the device because it's finally paid off. Other companies make you pay that same amount whether you’d technically paid off the device or not. It's just part of the deal. We agreed to it, we signed our names. Oh, you want out? Well, that's going to cost you a hefty fee. If you want to leave T-Mobile you still have to pay off the device, but at least you know why you're paying - you're kind of making off with the goods, so you should probably pay for it.

While the other features of T-Mobile’s uncarrier plans are nice, the most enticing feature is arguably the lack of contract. I mean, yeah, the hope is that you won’t feel the need to go anywhere else but the fact of the matter is that T-Mobile isn’t making anybody stay anywhere. It’s up to you. But if you decide to go somewhere else then you’re locked into a contract.

For me, right now, I’m in a good position. I can leave Sprint whenever I want because I’m not in contract. However, come July when my upgrade is available I would be signing another two-year contract along with it, and who knows how long the plan I am on will stay at the same price? Verizon and AT&T are out of the question for me, although they do have their benefits, and with T-Mobile I would end up paying about $40 more. It all boils down to what freedom is worth for me and if I could handle abysmal 3G for another two years.

I find it interesting that I, along with many others, keep coming up with excuses as to why we stick with our carriers even if we're not happy with them. Is it one of those things where it's the devil you know versus the devil you don't, or what? To be fair, T-Mobile's plans do seem like there has to be a catch somewhere along the line - and maybe that's where less-than-optimal coverage comes in. But realistically what is keeping us with these same companies?

But enough about me, I want to hear about your experiences! Why are you staying with your current provider? Let's hear some of the good experiences that you’ve had that makes you stay or perhaps some bad experiences that made you switch. Share your stories with me in the comments below!

Image via DigitalTrends