T-Mobile and the iPhone 5 - a customer service review

I had a fascinating experience with my iPhone and my friends over at T-Mobile this past week.

Backstory -  I got my iPhone before T-Mo technically offered them, so I bought from the Apple Store and walked it upstairs to the T-Mo store to have a very nice person there insert the SIM card and set it up on their network.  Win.

About 10 days ago I noticed that my phone was showing not 4G but an LTE data signal.  Rejoice!  I didn't do too much with it then since we were stuck in traffic.  A few days later, I decided to take these break neck speeds out for a test drive.  I crashed and burned.  All the other data types, 4G, Edge, wifi were working fine.  Just not LTE.  Weep.

Call 1  to T-Mo technical support.  This was a brief call and it was fine.  I'm calling this person Ms Tech.  It was brief because the things Ms Tech needed me to check, I had to stop using the phone to access those setting.  I checked what was needed, turned the phone on and off, software up to date, etc.  They were all correct.

Cal 2 to T-Mo technical support: You know when you call tech support and get the person who hates their job and hates you for being part of it?  Yeah.  I know that feeling too because that was this girl.  I'm calling her Ms Grumpy Pants.  Looking back, I was even asking the right question: "This is an older iPhone 5, could there be a setting that needs to be updated for LTE?" Instead of trying to figure out what was wrong I got "You didn't buy the phone from us so we can't support it, but I'll tell the engineers there's a problem with the LTE in your area".  Whoakay. 

Several Google searches later I discovered that the issue was in fact the carrier settings that had originally been installed on the phone.  (Not actually faulting Magenta for this one; the settings were right when they were installed, they were just failing to update.)  I found the correct Access Point Name (which was the culprit) and updated it in my phone.  Boom.  LTE works no problem.

Which leads me to problem number 2 - the phone is not remembering the new settings; it's just reverting back to the old crap whenever it wants.  Several more Google searches and I'm unclear if this is a T-Mo issue or an iOS issue.  This lead to calls 3 and 4.  And the best tech support ever.

 Call 3 - I finally learned my lesson and called from a land line so my iPhone was free for fixing.  I got the best tech ever.  I'm calling him Mr Helpful.  Since we knew what was wrong, he tried to reset some of the network settings.  That wasn't working so he told me the best thing to do is to factory reset the iPhone.  At this point I really am blaming iOS for this.  I couldn't get into resetting my phone at work, but Mr Helpful told me how to backup the phone, and then how to do a factory reset.  He then scheduled a time in a day or two to call me back (it was actually a couple of days because of his work schedule, but I was willing to wait just so I was guaranteed not to have to deal with Ms Grumpy Pants again)

I tried the reset that night.  Sadly I learned that once reset, hitting "restore from backup" just brought the issue back.  Instead I had to treat the phone like it was brand new and manually add every little app and picture and setting as best I could. Over the next couple days I tested out my super fast data speeds, and made sure picture messaging was working. 

Call 4 - Mr Helpful called back.  I let him know his advise helped me resolve the problem and thanked him for his time.

Lessons learned:
  • If your LTE data isn't working on a T-Mo phone, check the Access Point Name or APN settings
  • iOS apparently does not remember updates for APN settings.
  • Better to use Google to diagnose the problem.  Tech support likely uninterested in detective work.
  • Once the problem is properly diagnosed, tech support is very supportive.

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