Customer Complaint: T-Mobile’s TLC Companion Flight Promotion Is a Nightmare

(regular readers: please excuse me a moment while I vent)
You know when you have great customer service? It’s great, and yet we take it so for granted. I actually emailed a Verizon rep the other day thanking them for how helpful they were, having been reminded of it because of the terrible customer service I’ve had recently. Let me tell you about it.

In December, T-Mobile ran a promotion that if you renewed your contract you would receive a free companion flight when booking a plane ticket. I browsed the fine print, they had the destinations I need, didn’t blackout the dates I needed, you have to book through their agents, but they would price match competitive sites like Orbitz. Everything cleared and so we went ahead and renewed our contract. That’s when the headaches began. Here they are in chronological order:

  • 1/4/09 Calling to renew my contract took almost an hour. I was disconnected multiple times and was given three different phone numbers till I reached a customer service rep who could actually renew my contract for me. Why I got disconnected and why they couldn’t simply transfer me to the right person, or put the specific number on their website, is beyond me.
  • 1/10/09 A few days later and I receive an email saying I couldn’t register for the companion flight promotion because my contract was not renewed. What?! I called again and had the same painful process of being passed around multiple times. T-Mobile said it was their booking partners (TLC) mistake, TLC said it was T-Mobiles fault. Eventually, I found a T-Mobile customer service rep who took the time to look at my account and saw that no one actually renewed my contract. Fortunately, the rep saw that I had called before and went ahead and renewed my contract effective the date I had called, so I was still eligible for the promotion.
  • 2/4/09 I receive my booking PIN after their 30 day waiting period and promptly send in a price match request, complete with screenshot for a US Airways flight for $268 round trip. They respond requesting my booking PIN so that they can proceed and I send it to them. The quick email response assures me I have the write email address and there appears to be smooth and quick communication, I rest easy (Big mistake). Their website says it will take two business days to get a response. No response comes.
  • 2/15/09 I submit the request again including screenshot. It’s met with an automated reply.
  • 2/19/09 I’ve still not heard anything back so I submit a price match request again. This time the automated reply says I need a screenshot of both the T-Mobile booking site and the price match site I found. I take screenshots and send them in. Now the matching site I found has the ticket listed at $312.39. But, compared to the $414 ticket at the T-mobile site, I figure it’s worth waiting to hear back.
  • 2/20/09 I start calling. One of their requirements is tickets have to be booked 30 days in advance. I’m trying to get tickets for April 2nd, so that only leaves a week before the 30 days cut off. The customer service rep informs me that it will actually take 5-10 business days, not the two originally promised on the website. There is no manager available to speak to and they apparently do not have the contact info for the price match department. I simply need to wait for their call.
  • 2/24/09 I call again. I’m informed now that it will take 10 business days to get a reply. They assure me that my original request will be honored and I don’t need to worry if it’s past March 2nd. Again, there is no manager available when requested.
  • 2/26/09 I call again. This time I’m told it’s 10-14 business days.  I explain my situation, my frustration, the run around I’ve been getting. I ask to speak to a manager. Again, none is available, however, they appearently have a voicemail box. I leave a message.
  • 3/1/09 Unwilling to trust random customer service reps, I attempt to book the tickets on the T-mobile companion flight booking site. Though over $100 more then what I was expecting to pay, I attempt to book the tickets. The tickets, though listed as available in the search, come up with an error stating they are not available. I try the four different ticket options listed and each one has the same error. My suspicion is that somewhere in the computer code for the booking site they didn’t account for March having 31 days and started listing April 2nd flights as unavailable, just a guess.
  • 3/2/09 I call again. I speak with Brian (ID#64024). He says there is nothing he can do. His supervisors are not available, he can only book tickets through the same site that I can, he has no contact info for the price match department and his only explanation for the computers is that they remove flights at 8pm EST. When asked for a supervisors name, he says there is a bunch of them, he mentions “Kim” and “Leah”. He puts me through to the same voicemail box I was given the previous week and I leave a message.
  • 3/2/09 I call again the same day and the supervisors are never available.
  • 3/3/09 I start early. I get a hold of Eric (ID#LS48), turns out he is one of the supervisors, lucky me. He has quite a bit of attitude, but he gives me a little more information. Kim is apparently the lead manager for that TLC location. TLC stands for Travel Leisure Corps or TLC Worldwide Marketing. He also promises me he’ll send an email to his supervisor about the situation. Why could none of the other customer service reps could do that?
  • 3/3/09 I continue calling and asking for “Kim”, finally I reach a gentleman named Caren (ID#64044) who is very helpful. He tells me that Kim is actually in their Boston office, and the number I have is to the South Dakota office. He doesn’t have the Boston number, but he’s given me enough information to try and find it myself. He also looks at my account and sees that “Ashley” is listed as my booking agent, however she and the whole price match team are also located in Boston. He sends her an email explaining the situation.
  • 3/3/09 I google TLC in Boston and find a listing. But the numbers don’t work. I google the building their address is listed in and get phone numbers from the operator. I call the number [617-788-9600] and reach an automated directory, no receptionist. Punching in “Kim” shows that there is only one Kim listed in the directory, a Kimberely Sley (sp?). I try the extension, no answer, but I leave a message. I try again and try “Ashley” again one person listed, Ashley Survelle (sp?). Her extension also has no answer. So close, but yet so far.

And that’s where I currently am. Still no plane ticket. And while early February I was looking forward to two plane tickets for $268, a happy trade for a renewed two year contract with T-mobile, I’m not so happy anymore. If I can’t get this resolved in the next day or two I’ll have to bite the bullet and pick up those two plane tickets for about $700+. But you can be sure I’ll be sending the bill to TLC and T-Mobile to reimburse the difference. I have no clue who TLC is, but T-Mobile’s name is being quite tarnished by the terrible customer service people are having with this promotion. Just Google TLC Worldwide Marketing to read others horror stories.

Hopefully this story will have a happy ending…

[I’ve opted against posting my screenshots]

56 thoughts on “Customer Complaint: T-Mobile’s TLC Companion Flight Promotion Is a Nightmare”

  1. I am going through the same situation right now with TLC/T-Mobile. TLC's customer service is the worst. I e-mailed TLC for the price match for the second time last night and CC'd T-Mobile's Vice President of Customer Care. I got a reply and a phone call from T-mobile this morning. They seem to be willing to help. I hope it works out for me as it did for Ariah.

  2. Yes, I definitely hope it works for you too. The phone call from T-Mobile is what did the trick, they called TLC, and I got a call back asap. Was it their “executive customer service” team? Let me know how it goes, and if you have trouble I'll try and find the ladies number I was given and I'd be happy to pass that on to you.

  3. Sorry to say it did not work out for me. I needed three tickets and the price for the third kept going up so I just bought all three tickets on my own. My original itinerary was a non-stop to Chicago for $210.00. It went up to $250.00. I settled for an earlier flight with a layover for $214.00. We now have to wake up an hour earlier, arrive an hour later, stop in Dallas and pay more. It was funny though, after I bought the tickets the stress just melted away. We're once again looking forward to a nice vacation. Maybe TLC and T_mobile will try to make it up to us some how. Anyway….
    Have a great and safe vacation Ariah and thanks for posting.

  4. Yeah…I'm really disappointed in the smoke and mirrors aspect of this. I've been a longtime T-Mobile customer and got this promotion as part of an account upgrade/extension. So far I've not been able to find any available flights/dates between Philadelphia and the West Coast, even when entering random dates over different times of the year. All conditions met (Saturday night stayover, > 30 days in advance, etc.), but nothing. Pretty worthless so far as I can tell

  5. Yeah, they have fairly disappointing options. They seem to indicate no
    blackout dates, and if they list two cities they should at least have
    flights. have you tried calling and talking to an agent? Just curious.

  6. Can anyone tell me who to talk to…I am having the same problems. It says error no matter what I enter. I tried about 20 searches and got nothing. Please give me any names of people. Thanks

  7. Hello fellow Customers of T-mobile. I am a TLC Customer Service Rep from South Dakota. I get to listen to all of the issues people are having with this promotion everyday, and it's been hell, to be completley honest. We basically are the only outlet that excepts calls for issues, even TMO sends all related issues to us, and all we can do at our location is send a task on to have someone else take care of it. Sounds good huh?

  8. Well, the problem is that even when we do that NOTHING HAPPENS?! We send e-mails to our supervisors about every issue that has not been handled by the wonderful booking agents in Boston, and still nothing. I'm not sure why some people get calls back, and some people don't. I'm almost possitive that this promotion, along with the 2007 free flight promotion was set up for the cust to fail. When the 2008 Companion Flight promotion started we really didn't have to many issues, mainly booking pins not working, stuff like that, but now that the "economy" has taken a turn for the worst, apparently there are NO FLIGHTS available for the companion flight. I've searched and searched and I very rarly come up with a flight.

  9. I get at least 50 calls a day about this issue.. What am I to say… I'm not aloud to say that this is a scam, or that this was done so TMO and TLC don't have to pay for something they promised to there cust. I may get fired if they find out I wrote this, but I don't care anymore. A person can take only so much. Sorry, that was my venting fest. So now that you all know let's here what you've got to say! Best of luck to everyone who got scamed! Peace

  10. I too am having the same issue. I did vent at the customer service representaive and then did realize her hands are tied, but it is SO frurstrating to not have a number of a supervisor or even an e-mail address to send a complaint to. How can a company like this stay in business. Iam going to try and get my local TV station on this. One can only hope. Thank you to the above representative for your candor.

  11. Would you mind posting the contact info for T-Mobile's Vice President of Customer Care. I would even take the CEO for that matter. I've called T-mobile to complain about there vendor that they chose to handle this program but I think these complaints need to be heard all the way to the top. What a disapointment this has been. Does this sound like a class action lawsuit for to anyone? I've been sending emails since the first week of March and only get the automated reply. Last week when I called the concerige desk I was told that they themselves were a 3rd party vendor to TLC and that they could only communicate with them through an email type of program. Of course they had no name or contact info however she did supply this email address for feedback. However, after yet another week still no response. I called again today and was told they are no longer giving out a timeframe of when we should expect a call back. Guess they got tired of saying 3-4 business days, then 10-12 business days, to 3 weeks to we don't know. Very Annoyed!

  12. Thanks to all regarding this situation. We have tried to book flights for our friends to visit us on Memorial Day and have been getting the error message:

    Search for Flights

    Warning: An availability for your flight(s) was not found due to one of the following reasons: flights not found for time/time window requested; not offered for routing requested; not offered for date requested. Please verify your search criteria and try again. (66258)

    I will let you all know the outcome.

  13. As you know, I decided not to wait any longer for TLC/T-mobile so I bought my flight tickets on my own. A week later "Marcelo" from TLC said he could help me now. I told him "thanks anyway". He was still polite and gave me his direct line in case I needed it in the future and that my PIN was still valid for travel at a later date. A couple of days later I got a follow up call from Jason Cook from T-mobile. He wanted to know if I had been contacted by TLC yet. I told him the same story. Long story short, he said T-mobile has changed vendors for this program. Maybe others can benefit. We'll see…


  15. sounds like some of you have had much more luck then me. I just wanted 2 of my 4 free tickets on a FL/NY trip. After many attmpts to book a trip and lots of phone calls,Basically I've been told by TLC "no flights…too bad-so sad" and either been disconnected or hung up on when asked to speak to a supervisor. tried 6 different airports and 12 different months NOTHING. They said promotional tickets become avaiable when the airlines have them to give to them??????? -So many desinations -No blackout dates….HOW ABOUT JUST NO FLIGHTS!!!!!! T-mobile tells me they haven't heard of this problem before. Planned my family trip to see my parents to celebrate their 50th anniversary, and now have no idea how we can do it. We resigned for 2 years and bought 4 new phones to get this offer for nothing.I was a happy t-mobile customer until today. (If it sounds to good………………

  16. My emails worked as well and I got booked. I also got quoted 290.00 per person for flight and I found the same flight info for 190 per person on hotwire and cheapoair. They ended up matching my flight so make sure that you look into it as well. I was impressed with how well this worked, I was treated very well after compaining. Good luck

  17. I posted the info of contact people for this problem and you will get your flights. I am sure of it. Look bak at the people and numbers that I posted. Tmoble will contact TLC and tell them to take care of you. If you need more info let me know. I went through the exact same issue as you did and I booked my flights yesetrday.

  18. thank you so much. after they got back to me 10 flights magically appeared.( I felt kind of stupid) i booked one. next day went back flights.
    they are really taking chances with valuable cutomers.

  19. thank you so much. after they got back to me 10 flights magically appeared.( I felt kind of stupid) i booked one. next day went back flights.
    they are really taking chances with valuable cutomers.

  20. I have been trying for 2 months to get 2 flights from Phoenix to Seattle. There are NO FLIGHTS available on or around dates we want. We signed for a 2 year contract and want to go to our 50th high school reunion on 8/22. We have talked to T-Mobile supervisors et al but they cannot help. They assure me that the airlines are giving them some flights but I can't believe it. I don't think I will have any luck getting the tickets and I am Pi—-d. We honored our end by signing the 2 year contract and T-Mobile is not honoring their end so I think we should be able to get out of the contract and go to another company.

  21. Aloha,
    I am in the same boat and I am not getting any flight info checking everyday tried everything you can imagine. I just want to take my daughter for her 16th birthday and my wife for her birthday and mothers day to DisneyWorld this June. I have been getting the same run around and I cannot book anything else until I get these airline tickets purchased. Who can I email or call to get immediate help? Maybe I should forward a complaint to better business bureau too. I feel for you all for I feel like I got a beautiful wrapped gift but then once opened all it is is a useless generic gift. This has been one of the most stressful things, you think with the economy customer service would be high up on t-mobiles list not scamming them. Well look forward to any help. Have a great day all.

  22. But then will be rippin off the other people, You can't seem to book a flight. has anyone actually completed there flight that you know of? If so please let me know. have't read all the reviews yet.

  23. Enough is Enough T-mobile & TlC. buy one get one's pure & simple.. why such a hassle.

    We should book our flight/ reimburse or pay for the other fare, stop screwin around with peoples lives & travel plans.

    I've been tyring to book my flight with no anser as to why I can't. I have a soldier coming home & simply can no longer wait. Just to mess around I changed dates and location just to see if it would allow me to book, same thing, nothing available, warning error with no paticular reason why. I've already lossed the dates at the hotel I wanted to stay waiting on TLC, Tmobile, whatever.


  24. Thank you Brittany for posting the contacts. I just emailed t-mobile CEO and VP, let's just hope I get the same response you did and have a happy ending to this mess. I've been dealing with this for 2 months calling and emailing weekly and my flight is suppose to leave in less then 30 days. Wish me luck!

  25. My flight is today for a wedding, and I still hve no ticket. I sent in a price match and even yesterday the agent said be patient some times you'll get it the day before, and guess what 6 hours from the flight and still no contact. Just the automated response and months and months of calling for a 5 working day call back. I emailed the aforementioned emails (thank you btw), lets see if something happens. There's gotta be something that we can do.

  26. I sent my email off to executives and got a call back this morning from the Executive Customer Care group at T-mobile. Talked to someone by the name of LT who said he would be following up with TLC on the situation and be giving me a call back. I'm just hoping this will actually work and T-mobile will have better luck getting through for me.

  27. I don't understand the people that signed up for the free flight promo in 07 and didn't get their flight, yet for some reason they are dumb enough to sign up again for the 08 promo. I also don't understand why so many people say they signed up for the 08 promo ONLY for the free companion flight; hello, you are paying a lot more money for the 2 yr contract than it would cost you for 2 tickets on any travel site. For these types of people I don't feel sorry, but the rest of you who just signed up and were promised these flights I feel for you & hope you get them. Just remember that the agents you call didn't set up the program, don't have acess to more flights, and will do what they can to help if you are not yelling at them.

  28. I understand what all of you are going through !!! I had the same problems but in the end it all worked out. They seem to be FLOODED with calls and request and are having a hard time getting through all of them. I was booked by a rep and had the luck of my fare going down and actually getting matched at the lower fare. The agent was extremely helpful and attentive. I understand that everyone must be frustrated and wish you all the best of luck !

  29. I am having the same problem. I have been trying to book a flight with the online service but cannot get anything but a warning message. I have sent emails to the above emails to see if I can get any response. I have tried multiple dates and destinations and the only the the website will allow is TPA to MIA. I am tempted to turn this over to the district attorney or local TV stations as a scam. This is very sad.

  30. It wasn't until John TX posted the above info 5 days ago that I think i've actually made it somewhere. I left a message last Thursday begging and pleading for some help and I actually got a call back within 4 hours. Not by Annette but at least a call back from a booking agent. WHOHOOO we made it passed the call center folks. Anyways the agent called to confirm my information and would be working on my pricematch and booking my tickets. I actually got a name and # to reach the person back. Although I was hoping that I would be booked on the spot but it doesn't happen that way. Anyways, I called the person back on Friday to see where we're at and got the voicemail out of the office until Tuesday. (yippee the phone number was valid and it was a real voicemail) So I'll be following up again tomorrow. I'm just praying this will be it and i'll be on my way being that my flight leaves in two weeks and the plane is filling up quickly. I've been having to go in daily and put a reserve on my seats just to make sure i'm guarenteed to get on that flight.

    I'll update again as soon as I have more to share and hopefully with good news!

  31. Wow, this sounds really familiar… Any luck with talking T-Mobile or TLC into reimbersing you? I just had to pay $680 for two plane tickets, when even their “zone fare” would have only set me back $400… But my husband is in our friend's wedding, so we kinda needed plane tickets -_-

  32. I've been trying to stay optismistic but each day that goes by and still no word or action on the tickets is leaving me very pissed off at this moment. The voicemail still says they will be back on Tuesday and now the mailbox is so full that you can't leave any messages now.

  33. Finnaly good news to report! I have my tickets in hand with just 2 weeks to spare and can say this ordeal is over!! I do have another comp ticket to cash in but after this I'm seriously thinking it's not worth the time and stress to go through this again.

    Here is the #'s to TLC that by passes the call center takers who didn't have a clue oh I mean phone number to contact these folks. 1.617.788.9600 is the main number for TLC Marketing the ones that actually does the pricematching and books the tickets. You can access the directory by pressing # and start typing in Marcello or Annette's name which will get you to there voicemail boxes. I just started leaving messages on everyones phone until someone finnaly called back.

    By the way! Sending emails to the t-mobile exec's didn't help speed up the process any however, they did make nice and offered to give me two months credit on my cell phone bill for the hassle. It pretty much equaled a wash on what I ended up paying for the tickets.

    Thank you to everyone who provided all of these great tips!

    Good Luck to everyone else!

  34. I couldn't agree more!!!! This is a HUGE scam. I was excited to be able to use this. My fiance and I wanted to book a flight from Seattle to Indianapolis and are fairly open over the summer. I think I have searched over 50 combinations with no luck. We even looked at visiting other friends in different cities and have had no luck. This definitely impacts my opinion of T-Mobile. I have been very happy with them to this point, but this is no doubt a scam. I guess I bought it, but I don't plan to give them any more of my families money once this contract is up 🙁

  35. I have new info! Because of the data that you guys posted, I sent an email and left a message at the Executive center of Tmobile. I got a call back within 10 minutes! I spoke with Ranetta who gave me a new number for Caliber (866-902-9656) and told me to call them and they would take care of my problem. The numer for TLC, by the way, no longer works – I suspect they may be out of business as they have been closed all week.

    I called the Caliber number, and it instructs you to leave your name, a number where you can be reached, and your PIN number, and presumably you will be contacted within 24 hours. I'll keep my fingers crossed, and you guys try the numbers too!


  36. Final Update: Received a call SAME DAY from Caliber at 866-902-9656 and have booked my flights with NO HASSLES at the rate I had already looked up online – these people have it together!!!!! Hopefully, Tmobile will NEVER use TLC again!!!!!!


  37. Using Caliber is only for 2008 Customers. Those of us that signed up for our contracts with T-Mobile in 2007 have to use TLC. Any customer that signed in 2007?????

  38. I called Caliber and when I told her about the continued unavailability of flights on the website she told me "it was still down." If it's down why wouldn't they just take it down and leave a message for people to call Caliber?

    Anyway…She found me flights.

  39. I called Caliber at 866-902-9656 and was able to book a flight in five minutes. Very good customer service. Quite happy with the price too.

  40. I got the same deal when I came back to T-moble with a 2 year contract- I initially looked into it and was thinking about booking a trip using promotion deal but after reading this I think I will just save myself the misery. Boy– I tell you, I don't know why T-Mobile hires these companies to run their promotions. T-Mobile hired a company name InPhonic to run their phone rebate operation — of course this comapny scammed $450 out of me 2 years ago. You wont believe how many times I called this people and still haven't gotten anything back. Finally I gave up but not before I reported them to BBB. If you're having issues with TLC, I suggest reporting them to BBB and make sure you document every phones calls, rep IDs etc. I wish you all the best.

  41. I had the same problem this year also. I called and emailed and called some more and TLC was just impossible. Finally I called T-Mobile and bc the customer svc reps themselves tried to get thru to TLC and when they couldn't (what a surprise), they actually told me to go ahead and book a flight, and they'd actually credit me with the cost of one of the flights to actually make it a BOGO deal like they had advertised. T-Mo made good on their promo for me, but I feel like it just shouldn't have been THIS hard to take advantage of a promotion they offered!

  42. Anybody wants to contact me to hire an attorney for start Class Action lawSuit against Tmobile ? or anyone knows about the existing class action lawsuit ? I will join them and encourage everyone to ask for our rights, these company is in default of false advertising .plz contact me by email to

    1. lets do so…..with the economy being so bad… now i feel like i got ripped off, i signed up for 5 new lines just because of the free flight promo

  43. I had the same problem a year ago. I never thought T-Mobile can do this to their loyal customers. I withdrew from their services, I got frustrated with what had happened. I hope they won’t do this next time.

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