Using T-Mobile Short Codes to Forward Calls to Google Voice Mail

Recently got a new phone, and it took me awhile to figure out how to get all my unanswered calls forwarded to Google Voice automatically.

My carrier, T-Mobile, has a list of short codes that can be used to set this stuff up, but the instructions there leave a lot to be desired.

I had to use the following set of short codes to get the call forwarding to work correctly:

Forward calls to Google Voice number when the line is not answered

**62*[Phone number starting with country code 1]#

Forward calls to Google Voice number when the line is in use

**67*[Phone number starting with country code 1]#

Set length of time before forwarding calls to voice mail

**61*18056377243**[seconds - 5, 10, 15 or 30]#

Galaxy Note 7 Recall Blues

So on Saturday, September 3, 2016, T-Mobile sent me an email that said the following,

Samsung notified us today that they are recalling the Galaxy Note7 due to a battery safety concern.

. . .

You have options:

  1. Sign up and we’ll let you know when the new Samsung Galaxy Note7 is available.
  2. Switch to a new device
  3. Return phone for a full refund

The Note 7 isn’t perfect–the Gorilla Glass 5 is just awful–but it’s still easily the best Android phone I’ve owned, so I opted for option #1. I went online and filled in a form to get notified when a replacement phone was available.

In the meantime, though, more Note7 phones were catching on fire. The video of a Jeep going up in flames supposedly due to a Note7 that was being charged in the vehicle seemed to make Samsung get serious about it’s recall. Where before Samsung had pointedly not made it’s recall official, now it was working with the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

That result in a complete halt of sales of the device and Samsung warning all customers to power down and not use the device at all.

Okay, but it’s my main phone–a device I spend 6 to 7 hours a day using. Moreoever, neither Samsung nor T-Mobile had any information about when replacement phones might arrive. Some reports suggested that replacement stock would start showing up the week of September 12, but the other reports suggested that there might be shortages into November.

So I decided to bite the bullet and just swap the Note 7 for a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.

My first stop at a T-Mobile store was almost successful. The salespeople didn’t seem to grasp the serious nature of the defective phone (“are you just being extra cautious?” Umm…did you see that Jeep in flames?), but they were knowledgeable about T-Mobile’s systems and how to do the exchange.

Only one problem–they didn’t have the S7 Edge in black. And no, I’m not going to buy a silver or gold phone because I’m not Liberace. The manager called a store on the other side of town that indicated it did have the phone in black. So off I went.

Except things didn’t go as planned at the second store. The manager there told me that since I had bought the Note 7 online that I could not do the exchange at a T-Mobile store. Instead I had to call customer care and arrange for the exchange with them.

This directly contradicted every single piece of communication I had with T-Mobile up to that point. In fact, T-Mobile was quite clear that when I exchanged the defective Note 7, I would have to do so at a physical location.

I was not happy, but didn’t have time to stick around and argue with the manager or get customer service on the phone.

A quick Twitter search showed a variety of issues–people being told they couldn’t exchange their Note 7 without a receipt or the original box, etc. Clearly there was a lot of miscommunication within T-Mobile about the recall and exchange policies.

Anyway, I also noticed that T-Mobile had updated it’s recall page on Saturday, September 11. Now the page indicated that I could call Customer Care and essentially get any phone in their inventory as a loaner until the Note 7 exchange situation was figured out. Awesome–maybe a bit late in the game, but that’s the sort of resolution I’d expect from T-Mobile.

So I call Customer Care, and … the CSR on the other end has no clue what I’m talking about. He has to put me on hold repeatedly to ask a supervisor about this exchange process. Eventually he tells me that this is so new and outside of normal T-Mobile procedures that there is a separate department that is handling this. He transfers me there.

A nice young woman answers the phone and I explain I’m looking to exchange my Note 7. She also has no clue what I’m talking about. I tell her that T-Mobile’s recall page has been updated with information about the exchange and she puts me on hold to go talk to a manager.

She comes back and gives me the same line about another department handling these returns. I mention I was transferred to her specifically for this, and she is sympathetic. Before transferring me she gives me the phone number of this special department. Except it’s the same number I called that led me to her.

I’ve now passed the 20 minute mark on the phone. She asks me to hold while she talks to another supervisor so she can make sure she has accurate information. Eventually she comes back and is apologetic, saying that she literally just received information about this exchange system for the first time while I was on hold. But she tells me she can indeed process the exchange.

She takes a bunch of information down, and tells me that the black S7 Edge is unavailable. I opt for the silver. And that’s that.

A few hours later I received a promised email with documents I had to electronically sign to authorize delivery of the phone.

T-Mobile’s $14.99/month for Tethering — Are You Kidding Me?

One of the (few) things I liked about my Nexus One was the tethering and portable hotspot feature that just worked after the Froyo update was rolled out. I almost never use the tethering, but love the ability to turn the phone into a hotspot. This is something I only use a few times a month, mostly so my son can access the Internet on his iPod touch while we’re on road trips, and occasionally to give my wife and I Internet access when we’re staying at hotels (sad that a portable hotspot on a cell phone still beat most hotel’s overpriced wifi options).

Anyway, T-Mobile wants to start charging customers for this capability. According to a press release from late October, in order to keep using this feature,

Customers must add the $14.99 Tethering/Wi-Fi add-on feature.

. . . and . . .

The data accumulated while tethering will count towards customers’ 5GB data speed reduction threshold limit.

Okay, that’s where you really start to piss me off as a customer. Currently I have two phones through T-Mobile, my G2 and my daughter’s Blackberry. In total, I pay $180/month with unlimited data on both.

Now frankly I didn’t mind all that much when T-Mobile announced recently that it would set a 5gb/month cap on the unlimited and then begin throttling speed down after that limit was hit. Not ideal, but much better than most cell phone providers have done.

On the other side, though, it is absurd that T-Mobile wants to charge me $14.99/month above and beyond what I’m already paying if I want to use 200mb of that 5gb each month on my laptop. Why? I’m staying well beneath the 5gb/month quota so I’m not negatively impacting their network with excessive bandwidth usage. If they were offering me another 5gb/month of bandwidth in that $14.99/month deal, I’d understand, but as it is now the proposed charge is ludicrous.

This just seems like T-Mobile saying, “we can charge you $14.99/month for this feature, so we’re going to.”