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Monday, October 17, 2011

There’s a lot (of GOOD) to be said for MetroPCS’s TAX INCLUSIVE rate plans…

by Dan Getz, Dance4One Dallas, TX October 17, 2011

About 5 ½ months ago, some of you might recall the article I wrote on May 19th (with a follow up article on May 25th) regarding my personal decision to switch from MetroPCS to Team Mobile due to what I viewed as significant coverage, 411, 611, hand-off and Customer Service issues.  Most, and rightfully so, would have classified me as a significantly disgruntled customer that was “venting” my extreme displeasure with MetroPCS.

Although I didn’t mention it, I also was not particularly “thrilled” regarding MetroPCS’s seemingly limited selection of, and high priced phones,  You may or may not be aware of this but typically a pre-paid company (like MetroPCS, which was essentially the “forerunner” in this space) is significantly limited on, what amounts to subsidies from the prepaid company and possibly cell phone manufacturers, it can offer as incentives/discounts on phones to it’s customers, when compared to a company who only offers 1 and 2 year contracts (i.e. a company locking in a customer with a contract is “guaranteed” a certain amount of revenue, and can offer deeper discounts on it’s phones as an “incentive”, while a prepaid company’s customer’s longevity is much more uncertain).

Today, after visiting a MetroPCS Authorized Dealer location (a “franchise” location as opposed to a company owned store), and ultimately deciding to switch my service and phone BACK to MetroPCS from Team Mobile, I am cautiously optimistic about not only some positive aspects that I expect to benefit me personally as their customer, but some renewed vigor and creativity I noted, that I believe is going to significantly increase MetroPCS’s competitive edge in the market-place.  Let me explain.

While I having nothing negative to say about Team Mobile’s 411, 611, hand-off, and Customer Service (in fact, I would have to say that their Customer Service is second to none), cost of service was the primary driver for my decision to switch back to MetroPCS.  As I explained to the Team Mobile Customer Service representative, “Why would I pay what amounts to $75 to $80 (when adding taxes and overages for international text and 411 calls) for a $59.99 plan (EvenMorePlus POST PAID, not contract) that covers unlimited local and long distance plus unlimited DOMESTIC (i.e. NOT INTERNATIONAL) text messages with TEAM MOBILE, when I could pay ONLY $45 (TAX INCLUSIVE) for a METROPCS plan that includes UNLIMITED local and long distance, Nationwide coverage, Unlimited Text Message (DOMESTIC and INTERNATIONAL), UNLIMITED picture messaging, UNLIMITED web access, Voice Mail, Caller ID, Call Waiting, 3-way calling (as does Team Mobile and most carriers), UNLIMITED short codes and alerts, UNLIMITED 411 Service, and UNLIMITED access to two proprietary products called SCREEN IT (an enhanced CALLER ID service) and POCKET EXPRESS (a retailer/alert discount/convenience service)?”  The best this Team Mobile representative could offer was a $5 discount (a $54.99 plan of some sort that TOO would be PLUS tax), to which I graciously declined.

So with a $45 plan (they have a $40 and $50 plan + bolt on costs for individual products and customization TOO) at METROPCS, I found I not only could save $30 to $35 (MOSTLY due to the TAX INCLUSIVE aspect) per month (over the $59.99 Team Mobile Plan), but could get a WHOLE BUNCH more UNLIMITED features.  In addition, I was told by the sales representative of the Authorized Dealer that not only had coverage been improved and expanded in recent months, but Customer Service had improved dramatically as well, as a  NEW 3RD party call center had recently replaced the previous vendor…the two primary reasons I originally switched from MetroPCS to Team Mobile.  As an added “surprise” I found that MetroPCS’s selection of 4G, Smart Phones and “regular” phones was not only quite a “smorgasbord”, but including mail-in rebates were priced as low as $9…not quite free, but awful darn close! The cost of the phone I selected (a LG BEACON combination “slider keyboard” and "touch screen" phone) ended up being $44.99 with a $25 mail in rebate.

In the end, time will tell which telecommunications carriers will remain at or move to the top, or fall out.  But it is my sincere belief, particularly in today’s economic climate, that cost, competitiveness, and CREATIVITY (like TAX INCLUSIVE pricing and offering a BUNCH of UNLIMITED features in ALL pricing plans) will ultimately be the drivers that determine the final “players”.  And, it was not that long ago where the “naysayers” (primarily the other 3 or 4 carriers, and multiple analysts) were saying a PREPAID ONLY service would never make it.  Now about 10 to 15 years later, that same company (METROPCS) is the only company I know of that has “built” TAX INCLUSION into ALL of it’s plans…While FORERUNNERS always make waves, that is not the point.  The point is who is STILL riding the waves at the “end of the day”.

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