Some U.S. Cellular (NYSE:USM) customers are still experiencing billing issues and have not cleared up disputes that led to disconnected phones and unexplained charges as a result of the carrier's billing system transition. However, a top company executive said the company has made significant progress in clearing up the issues.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, in some cases, customers say they have waited five months for a corrected bill, which is supposed to include credits and show what's owed to resolve the dispute. As a result of billing snafus, many U.S. Cellular customers have been angry over receiving multiple bills in a short time with inaccurate balances or overcharges.
It's unclear how many customers are still being affected by the problems, which were first reported in July. A U.S. Cellular spokeswoman declined to cite a specific number but said it was "a small number of our customers." In the third quarter, U.S. Cellular doled out around $10 million in billing credits to customers during the period as a result of the billing system issues. The company is working with billing vendor Amdocs, which implemented the system, to fix the problems.
U.S. Cellular CEO Kenneth Meyers said at an investor conference in November that the billing system upgrade was necessary and allowed the company to offer shared data and subsequently launch the iPhone 5s, 5c and 4S, and iPad Air, to its customer base. Meyers acknowledged that the rollout of the new billing system was not "as smooth as we had hoped." He also said that the billing system glitches caused an uptick in churn in the third quarter that will likely continue into the fourth quarter.
On Tuesday, U.S. Cellular CMO Dave Kimbell said "most customers are experiencing the high level of service they expect from U.S. Cellular."
"At the same time, we are focused on resolving any remaining issues and we're working with each impacted customer to find solutions," he said in a statement to FierceWireless. "Only a fraction of our customers have had problems with the new system, but that's no consolation to those who have. We still want everyone to know that while implementing our new system has been a poor experience for some early on, this new operational approach will provide better service for all customers in the long run."
Kimbell said Amdocs "continues to have a full team working alongside us to fix the remaining issues." He also said the carrier "corrected compressed billing for almost all customers, so their future bills should be on a normal, monthly billing cycle. If customers' bill timing isn't correct, we'll work with them to make it right."
The U.S. Cellular CMO also said that customer care wait times are now shorter, "though call times, on occasion, are longer than our usual response." To speed up response times, he said the company added workers to its customer care centers and introduced a "virtual hold" system so customers have the option to request a call back rather than wait on hold.
Further, he said the carrier is also giving "5,000 Reward points to account holders because of the challenges they've faced with the roll-out of our new billing system. They can redeem these points now or at a later date for a variety of items including free phones, including the new iPhone, accessory bundles and moving their upgrade timer forward."
- see this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article
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