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Complaints About MCI
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What does MCI do to get new long distance customers?

That's a pretty easy question to answer. They contact prospective customers and offer them an attractive calling plan that seems to meet their needs.

The attractive rate plan might be 200 minutes of long distance calling for $9.95 per month. Or it might be a rate plan with no monthly fee or minimum. Once upon a time, it would have been 40% off calls to their Friends and Family Calling Circle.

There have been some complaints that MCI is not exactly "forthright" about their calling plans. Their customer service reps might be trained to describe the 200 minutes for $9.95 calling plan as "5¢ a minute for the first 200 minutes" ... which is not the same as "up to 200 minutes (during off-peak hours) for $9.95".

But if you're actually happy with the calling plan, don't expect MCI to keep the calling plan the same. The marketing folks at MCI know that they can change major provisions of the calling plan without customers leaving MCI right away or even switching to another MCI calling plan.

The net effect is that MCI boosts its revenue without losing significant numbers of customers. Most people would call this "bait and switch", at least if they believed that this was MCI's intention all along. By now, there's been enough of a pattern established to support such a theory.

The latest change, effective 6/1/2002, affects MCI customers on their "basic" calling plan by imposing a $3 minimum monthly charge.

Make no mistake about it, the MCI basic calling plan has abysmal rates... 35¢ a minute during the day, compared to more highly-promoted offerings of 5¢ to 10¢ a minute. But with no monthly fee or minimum, it wasn't bad as long as your long distance calls averaged under about 10 minutes a month.

Now that you're aware of this change, if you're one of the customers on the basic calling plan, you can call them up and ask them for a better deal.

The "better deal" for customers averaging no more than about 10 calls a month, is the MCI Anytime Calling plan. This imposes a per-call connection fee of 35¢ with a 7¢ per minute charge for both state-to-state and in-state calls (except in California, where in-state calls are 5¢ a minute). This is almost always better than the basic plan unless almost all your calls are either one-minute calls or are eligible for the Sunday 10¢ a minute rate.

But if you decide to change to this new rate plan instead of finding another long distance company, remember that MCI is most likely already thinking about how they're going to change it.

Is MCI customer service closed? If so, you can try using their "online customer service"... but based on several problems I've tried to resolve through this mechanism, I can tell you that it's highly unlikely you'll get the problem resolved the first time this way.

Most likely this is a conscious strategy. If you're talking to them on the phone, it may make sense to resolve a problem in your favor just to get rid of you, since every minute on the line costs them money.

But with their email-based customer service, they have a greater hope of wearing you down. Sending completely non-responsive answers to customer inquiries is certainly one way to discourage further communication.

There's a ton of these complaints out there, but I'll start with a short list:

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Revision r1.5 - 25 Feb 2003 - 06:37 by EliMantel web search for EliMantel
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