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Why I Will Most Likely Be Leaving Sprint As A Customer…

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So, as I sit on hold with Sprint, I was inspired to write a second post today…

I have been a customer with Sprint since 1998. 10 years. For the first 9 of those years, it was sheer bliss. They had phones that I wanted, they had plans that fit my lifestyle. And they were constantly recognizing that I was a long-time customer and conceding deals that (at least I like to think) were not available to the public. Things like waived activation fees, shipping on new phones, etc.

In addition, they have the cheapest unlimited data plan around. $15. What a deal for an internet addict such as myself!

It was even a smooth transition when I added my wife to the mix. Very easy (in fact, my current plan included a free second line that I was not utilizing, so she came on almost completely free.)

However, in August, I took a new job with Microsoft. It involves significantly more travel than I had done in the past, as well as the opportunity to work remotely from home. These two things resulted in some pretty amazing bills my first couple of months on the job.

So I called my next available Sprint representative, and wanted to talk through my options for changing my plan to accomodate my newly found additional minutes. We found a plan that was desirable (1400 minutes a month, still including my wife’s phone for free), and cost the same as my old one (after applying a generous Microsoft discount.) I was in heaven. Until my first bill.

It was supposed to be about $100. It was $190. This was clearly not solving my problem. So I called them. After about 30 minutes of trying to explain my situation (I had not gone over on my minutes, BTW). We finally determined that when the plan was changed, only MY phone was moved to the new plan, and, in fact, my wife’s phone was still rockin’ steady on the old plan. So all I’d really done was ADD a second plan to my account, not replace the old one. So she credited my account and assured me that the problem was corrected. Great! I can certainly appreciate a mistake, as long as it’s corrected.

So all is well until the next bill comes. Same mistake. I call, and I get practically the same resolution. Now we’re alightly annoyed.

Here comes December’s bill. Guess what? It’s still wrong. I’ve had enough. I call angrily. I finally get someone on the phone that knows what they are doing. He walks me through all of the steps he’s taking, and the problem is corrected. And come January, IT ACTUALLY IS! Woo hoo!

But now my phone, the Treo 700wx is acting up. I have to take the battery out and replace it about twice a day, and about once a week, I’m forced to do a “hard reset” which erases everything from the phone, forcing me to start over. Thank God I pay the $7/month for the replacement warranty. Oh, except that warranty only assures me a refurbished version of the same phone I’m struggling with. Well, that’s not an option.

So, infuriated, I call to change this policy. Those of you that know me well know that I live by a policy of “everything’s negotiable.” Surely, if they can give me a phone that costs $350 (the refurb), they can give me a “different” phone that costs $350. I am, of course, told that will not be possible. So I politely (as politely as I can) ask to cancel my account. This is apparently the magic word at Sprint: CANCEL. In fact, they have an entire department dedicated to making sure that I don’t cancel. My customer service agent immediately becomes my inside source. He starts to tell me all of the things that I need to do and say to get what I want from the “cancellation department.” So I am transferred to them. And I have a nice conversation. Almost everything I ask for happens. The phone I want was actually $550, and I am more than willing to pay the difference. $200. She obliges me. And I get the phone 3 days later, free of shipping charges, activation fees, or even taxes (don’t tell the IRS.)

This is where it takes a turn for the worst. After a week with this new phone, the HTC Mogul, I start to realize that it’s just like the last phone I hated. It has a horrible one-handed experience (read: I can’t text while driving holding a Coke…thanks to Josh Holmes for that one). It requires me to touch the screen WAY more often than I really want to. Oh, and did I mention that I can’t use it with just one hand?

So I called my friends at Sprint tonight to talk through my return options (ones I was assured “wouldn’t be a problem” when I purchased the phone). I’ve determined that based on the extremely limited phone options Sprint offers, the only one that is really going to meet my needs is the Moto Q 9c. I’d really like to make an exchange of sorts. The Moto Q 9c has everything I want in a phone. Good form factor, built-in GPS, WM6, the list goes on. And a ONE-HANDED keyboard. After spending 55 minutes on the phone with a customer service rep, here’s what my options were:

1) Return the HTC Mogul, and receive the Moto Q 9c, but get no refund of the difference in price ($100).

2) Return the HTC Mogul for a full refund, and go back to using the battered and broken Palm Treo 700wx.

3) Talk to the cancellation department again (I’m starting to see a pattern) and try and get the “fair” deal I am looking for.

As you can guess, I chose option #3. So the rep told me he would be transferring me. But before he transferred me, he started to give me advice, just like last time. Tell them this…make sure you tell them you want to cancel…just make your demands known…etc. And then I got HUNG UP ON. No transfer, no nothing. Just a busy signal.

After a little yelling at the room I’m sitting in, I redial Sprint. I don’t have another hour to burn. It’s already 11:00 PM, and I just drove two hours to Cleveland. So when their voice recognition software kicks in, I say the magic words. “Cancellation.” I am immediately transferred to the Cancellation Department, and I got to talk with a new rep. For the rest of the story, we’ll call her “The Rep That Likes Customers To Leave For The Competition.” Or TR for short.

So I tell TR my issues, and she is sympathetic, just like I’m sure the script told her to be. I’m very friendly, and she’s receptive to my needs. All I’m asking for really, is to return one phone, and get a phone that is $100 cheaper. Oh, and to be refunded the $100 difference. I guess I don’t think that I am being difficult.

Instead, she reviews how I got the Mogul at such a discounted rate. She tells me that she’s not even sure how someone could have given me the price that I was given. She then proceeds to tell me that not only can I not get that $100 returned to me, the Moto Q 9c will actually cost me $50 MORE! I kindly ask her to remind me what it’s going to cost to cancel my account and move to another provider. She is very quick to let me know that it will be $200 per phone (me and my wife, remember), plus tax. THERE’S TAX ON A CANCELLATION FEE? UNBELIEVABLE! My account is now clearly flagged as “LET HIM GO, ALREADY.” Before we end the call, she asks me if there’s anything else she can help me with tonight (from the script), and I politely respond with “Clearly, there isn’t anything you can help me with.” Click.

Tomorrow, I will be talking with AT&T and Verizon to see how we can start a new relationship together. I’m looking forward to a world where new phones are available when then come out, not 6-12 months later. A world where each and every move I make doesn’t start a new 24 month contract. A world where customer service is exactly that. Service. Not an opportunity to upsell me again. Goodbye Sprint. It’s been a fun 10 years of loyalty and defending your honor to my mocking colleagues and friends, but I think it’s about time we start seeing other service providers.

Here’s to hoping I get one of these soon:

Anyone have any reason why I should pick one provider over another? I’m looking for compelling arguments. The iPhone is NOT a compelling argument.


11 responses to “Why I Will Most Likely Be Leaving Sprint As A Customer…”

  1. Corey Haines Avatar
    Corey Haines

    I’ve had VZW for many years now; I really like their network and service. Customer Service is usually pretty good, although I’ve not had too many opportunites to use them.

  2. Dan Hounshell Avatar
    Dan Hounshell

    Jeff, I had Sprint for about 5 years until about 6 months ago. I really liked their service, and the plans, but the customer service sucked. My wife an I initially signed up for the cheapest plan (about $35/month) for like 300-400 minutes. We then added her on as a second line for an extra $10 bucks a month. We were pretty happy – I don’t use my mobile phone too often so the price and minutes seemed great. Until we got our first bill. Rather than being the $50 we expected it was about $80. We called customer service and they explained that the plan that the sales person signed us up for was not valid, it had expired the week before. You could no longer add a user to the cheapest plan, you had to upgrade to the next plan so they automatically did so.After a bunch of back and forth they honored the original contract, reduced our bill and away we went. Next month – the same thing happened. Next month – the same thing happened. After about six months it looked like they finally had it figured out. Another six months later I was reviewing my bills and figured out that they had been overbilling us again for several months. They went back and fixed it, but said they could only do so retroactively for 60 days. It kept like this for a while. We needed to add a new phone for my son with unlimited text and Sprint didn’t offer anything affordable, I needed a new phone and I didn’t like anything Sprint had, so we eventually made the switch to T-Mobile. I have been really happy with my BlackBerry Pearl and T-Mobile’s service. I get unlimited data, my son gets unlimited text and my wife gets plenty of minutes all for about $110/month. Plus our two Pearls and her Razr only cost us about $90 combined.You’ll be glad you changed providers.

  3. rick_kierner Avatar

    It’s too bad they didn’t piss you off about 3 weeks ago. Sprint made a “material change” to all of its contracts and therefore voiding (temporarily) the contract. If you didn’t make the contract terminate during the window of opportunity, don’t worry; Sprint automatically resumed it for you.

  4. Randall Drum Avatar
    Randall Drum

    Of course, I’m biased towards Verizon Wireless. I don’t know what kind of deal you could get based upon your employer. The big thing to keep in mind is the network – considering your travel requirements, you want a powerful network (read: Verizon). Also, the Moto Q is a rockin’ unit and the 9m is especially nice since it comes with WM 6.

  5. James Bender Avatar
    James Bender

    Well, first of all you should send his to http://consumerist.com/ if haven’t already.Here’s what I can tell you about T-Mobile: GREAT customer service, good coverage (especially out where I live, I know Verizon has almost no coverage). The downside is that their selection of smart phones is crappy, so you’ld have to buy an unlocked phone. No $15/month data plan either.

  6. Eda Avatar

    Hello, guyz here's a new website that has free unlimited text to all network it's true http://www.txtmate.com/

  7. Scott Walker Avatar
    Scott Walker

    Well all providers have their ups and downs. Personally I’ve been with VZW for something like 8 years now. Generally their phone selection is lagging way behind the competition, but their network is what has been keeping me around this long. Certainly their data plan is *absurd* at $44.95 a month, but if I can use EVDO Rev.A on my phone and pull down 1500kbs I think I can live with it. Also there is this which is convincing me to wait and see how this plays out. Here’s to hoping someone will make a VZW device with one of these in the near future. Also I’ve got say that I’ve been enjoying the heck out my Mogul since I got it. Granted I’m not much of a one-handed texter… There are several pieces of software though that can improve the one-handed experience. Check out anything from these two companies to see what I mean.

  8. Emperor.Kaizer. Avatar

    Hi, I actually worked with Sprint before (they outsource their customer service calls here in the Philippines to save a lot). And I can tell you yes, it was crappy. For both customers AND representatives. I know for a fact that I can help callers but because of the limited system that we had (your letter was dated 2007, so I was there during that time frame)and this weird ass looking note system where everything was jumbled, we were having a hard time understanding what happened in the previous calls. Even simple issues such as yours might have been resolved quickly if it weren't for the system they use. Also training was bad as in all they teach is how to sell and never really dig down on the finer details of resolving issues. (BTW, dont blame the reps, its the company and their training that should be blamed.)

  9. TheElder Avatar

    Jeff,Knowing how much of a gadgeteer you are and knowing personally how hard it is to switch phones on a whim, I would suggest to stay away from Verizon (another CDMA carrier like Sprint).The problem with CDMA carriers is you can’t take out your sim card and pop it into a new phone. You have to call, get the phone provisioned, etc. I have a 2125, 8525, 8125 and a Blackjack II phone now. When I travel I ALWAYS carry two phones with me in case something happens to the other phone. With Direct Push I simply drop the new sim in the other phone and whola, I have all my contacts, tasks, email, calendar etc. The other thing about GSM carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile is they work over seas internationally. Although I don’t have plans on leaving the country for a trip, at least my phone would work and give the carrier an opportunity to bill me tremendous rates.Based on this, I would suggest to look only at T-Mobile and AT&T as your carriers. I used T-Mobile for years, back when they were called Voicestream and then stuck with them after the change to T-Mobile. I ultimately had to leave them because my experience was when you got off the interstate they didn’t work. Being that I would visit Mississippi a lot before I moved back, my phone would only work in major cities. AT&T has a lot more covverage and people down here use them a lot. There is probably 5 AT&T stores in just our town alone. That’s when I decided to move to AT&T / Cingular. I also noticed that Cingular / AT&T carry a very large collection of windows mobile phones and tend to always come out with the latest stuff.So my official vote for you is AT&T.I just went to T-Mobile’s site and they don’t have much at all. T-Mobile has better plans and better international support in my option but being a gadgeteer myself I like getting the newer phones.That’s my $.02, hope that helps.

  10. Steve Horn Avatar
    Steve Horn

    Funny that consumerist was mentioned already – they always have sprint horror stories featured (http://consumerist.com/search/sprint/).I swear by Verizon…I’ve had them since 2001. They are pricey, but reliable.

  11. MichaelDotNet Avatar

    That $15 dollar a month data plan is an awfully good deal. And Sprint has given me the run around now and then too, but I’ll take a headache now and then for that price :)BTW I have the mogul, and I like it, I can navigate easily enough one handed without having to touch the screen, and if I want to type I generally am wanting to slide out the keyboard and use two hands anyway. You one handed typists scare me…

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