T-Mobile Trade-in Nightmare

Mar 9, 2023

This is the story of a 4 month nightmare with T-Mobile's awful, revolving-door, unaccountable customer service organization.

This is the story of buying one phone with one promotional credit that has eaten over 20 hours of my life in 4 months, and shown me how completely dysfunctional and impotent T-Mobile customer service is.

On Friday, November 25th we decided to place an order with T-Mobile for an Apple iPhone 14 Pro 256GB Space Black and to add my partner to our T-Mobile Family plan.

I placed this order specifically for two reasons -
- There was an $800 trade-in credit offer with T-Mobile for trading in an iPhone XS (Local image copy in case original link is taken down)

- According to T-Mobile's website I could purchase the phone and it would be shipped with 2 day shipping to arrive by 11/30. This was the first in a string of circumstances of T-Mobile systems not working.

The order - 71018071377 - was placed at 9:22AM. Upon confirmation of that order, I was not given an option to pick up the phone at a store, rather given a shipping timeframe for delivery of 12/26/2022-01/09/2023.

I then proceeded to place an order through BestBuy.com for the same phone with T-Mobile, that I could pick up in person that day.

Order number BBY01-806708463797

I proceeded to pick up the order at 3:07pm at Best Buy on 11/25/22
At 3:08pm I received the following email attachment from Best Buy

I was informed by the Best Buy representative in the store as well that I would need to trade-in my old phone with T-Mobile directly.

Next, I went to the nearest T-Mobile retail location at 1171 NW Sammamish Rd, Issaquah, WA 98027 to process my trade-in in person. There was an approximately 1hr wait to work with a representative. The T-Mobile employee advised me that while I waited, I could go ahead and cancel the direct T-Mobile order to simplify the process.

I cancelled the first, direct T-Mobile order at 3:32pm on 11/25/22.

This was the beginning of the nightmare. As a I came to learn - when the customer service representative cancelled this order, he also removed the Trade-In promotional offer from the remaining Best Buy order.

This was the first T-Mobile customer service error.

At approximately 4pm I was able to speak to the customer service person at the T-Mobile store. They informed me I could not do the trade-in in store, and would have to wait until I received an email from T-Mobile to start the process of trading in the phone. They informed me that this process could take up to 3 weeks.

So I waited exactly three weeks.

I called T-Mobile customer care (Winneth) on 12/15 at 9:57PM - and was then informed that there was no promotion attached my account or order. I provided the evidence of the promotion to the customer service representative and they assured me that the promotion would be re-attached to my account. I received a shipping label at 1:19AM on 12/16.

This was the second T-Mobile customer service error.

The shipping label was wrong. It was labeled for an iPhone 14 Pro, not the iPhone XS.

I contacted T-Mobile customer service (Micah) again on 12/19/22 at 11:11AM to get another shipping label created. I was told this mistake would be fixed, and I would receive a new shipping label in a few days.

I did not receive a new shipping label.

I contacted T-Mobile customer support (Ellen) again on 12/27/22, informing them that I did not receive a new shipping label.

This was the third and fourth T-Mobile customer service errors.

I spent more than an hour with this agent as they created two new shipping labels. Both were for the wrong phone.

Finally, they issued a 4th trade-in label for the correct trade-in.

This was also, as I found out months later, after the 30 day trade-in window had closed. Keep in mind - I physically could not fulfil this requirement due 100% to T-Mobile's inability to provide me a valid trade-in shipping label.

Notice that this label is for a newly created order - not attached to my original order. It also does not have the IMEI for the original device that I supplied when processing the original trade-in - that I later confirmed T-Mobile had on record, but did not lookup or use for this as they are supposed to do.

Regardless of these errors, I shipped the working iPhone XS on the same say I received a valid shipping label

T-Mobile received my trade-in on 1/3/23.

As with everything dealing with T-Mobile service, I waited.

On 1/21/23 I get an email notifying me my trade-in has been processed. And I am being credited $60. Not the $800 promised.

I contacted T-Mobile again on 2/4/23 to contest this. After confirming all the above details again with the customer service representative, I was told that they would fix the issue, and I would see the appropriate credits appear by my next billing cycle in March.

I was repeatedly assured that this would be resolved, and there would be no more action required on my part.

So I waited again.

This was the fifth T-Mobile customer service error.

On March 6th, I contacted T-Mobile customer service again (SamuelD) and was transferred to Daniel.

I once again explained the entire story, from the beginning, again.

Daniel explained to me that he would need to escalate this to a higher level, that this would take 2-3 business days, and that we would call me back with a resolution by end of day Thursday, 3/9.

On Thursday 3/9 at 11:43AM, I got the call back from Daniel

Daniel from T-Mobile Customer Service

The request was denied because the phone was returned too late.

I called back at 11:51AM and for the first time, after speaking with 11 agents over the course of 4 months - I was transferred to a support manager Carlos.

Carlos informed me that:

  • I would be offered $150 dollars additional credit for my trade-in
  • There is no alternative
  • It didn't matter that I was unable to return the phone in the time window
  • They will not honor the promotion, he will do nothing else
  • It didn't matter that they screwed this up for months
  • In his direct words "Our systems will not allow me, or anyone above me, to honor this promotion, or to provide you any more credit than the $150 dollars I am able to offer you now".

So, now begins the awful, non-accountable process to light.

For those who become T-Mobile customers in the future, let this be a word of warning.


They will say absolutely anything to you in order to end the call and get you off the phone, chat, or email chain in as short a time as possible.

They have almost zero ability to do anything. Any request you make will take days or weeks to go through an opaque chain of review and approvals - none of which you are able to see, verify, or track. And you will rarely get any confirmation of anything done or not.

They are hamstrung from making things right with you, the customer.

My next step is starting an official arbitration dispute. That starts by printing this article and sending it to:

T-Mobile Customer Relations
P.O. Box 37380
Albuquerque, NM 87176-7380

And waiting 60 days for a resolution, followed by an official request to begin arbitration by contacting:

Corporation Service Company

Wish me luck.