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.