Normally I try to remain neutral about cellular carriers and equipment manufacturers, and keep my commentary to objective handset reviews and information regarding rate plans, new services, and such. But given my own recent experiences with Helio and the growing displeasure expressed by their customers around the Web, I felt compelled to mention this to any of you considering signing up with Helio: Helio's customer service is the worst I've ever experienced amongst cellular providers.
I recently bought a Helio Ocean for review purposes. I cancelled my service within their 30-day trial period and obtained an RMA number and mailer with which to return the handset. Meantime I checked my monthly bank statement and noticed that $125 or so had been charged by Helio to my debit card. What? I was expecting a bill somewhere in the $70-80 range for 28 days worth of service ($65 all-in plan plus $6 for video service plus tax), but $125?
So I called customer service. Apparently a 314 minute phone call had put me over my monthly minute allotment and tallied some $40+ in overage charges. I explained that I hadn't made any five hour calls on my Helio Ocean, and while I was happy to pay for the service I'd used, maybe there'd been some kind of glitch in their system? After offering up a host of lame possibilities (hey, it's their job), the customer service rep said she'd escalate my claim to Tier 2 support and I'd hear back within 24-48 hours. Long story short, I got that same promise three different times on three different calls, and haven't heard back from Helio once.
Every time I called, the service rep agreed with me that there must have been a billing error on Helio's end. The last time I called, the service rep told me he'd push my claim straight through to finance, and they'd get back to me within that same 48 hour time period, most likely to confirm they were crediting the overage charges back to my debit card. Never heard a peep from them.
I sent the Ocean back about a week ago. And while it's too soon to really have a complaint about it, I did just check my bank statement: No $331 credit yet for returning the handset (let alone that forty dollar overage credit).
It's no secret that lousy customer service has become the norm in America, and that it's generally even worse amongst cellular providers. But I've never had it this bad before - and apparently I'm far from alone. Google "Helio customer service" or check out the Howard Forums thread linked to below for this gem: "15 calls, 9 reps, 6 Sup's, still no refund!."
Sure, Ocean is a sweet handset, particularly if you can't get enough of messaging, My Space, and mobile Internet. But be forewarned: What Helio's got going for them in terms of state-of-the-art tech, they really seem to be lacking in the customer service department.
Read: howardforums.com/showthread.php'threadid=1046844">"Helio Customer Service-Horrible!!!"</a> (Howard Forums)