The continuing saga of the cell phone provider switch.

February 17, 2006

As an earlier post pointed out, I’m currently switching cell phone providers. I am usually a very reluctant provider changer due to the headaches involved. I live by the old axiom about not fixing what isn’t broke – normally.

But the service I have used forever, I won’t mention any names, but the initials are “S.p.r.i.n.t.” has turned me from a satisfied customer to one pissed off puppy. Why? Glad you asked.

I’ve had my current cell phone for going on 2 years. I decided I wanted a new fancy (smaller) phone. I wanted to go back to a “flip” style phone instead of my current block one. Soooo, off to shop on the online store of this unnamed company. After a few days of off and on searching, I decided to go with a Sanyo phone, flip with a camera and the ability to use the phone for internet with their “power vision” service. Swell… Yeah, right. If you take a gander at the map on the upper left, you’ll see that Sprint Power Vision (indicated by the orange color) is only available in what appears to be a 2 block radius in Las Vegas (I’m pretty sure the orange is covering McCarran Airport). Drop your gaze about a millimeter down and you’ll see “Needles” and “Bullhead City”. I live a skooch above and to the left of the little dot that signifies Bullhead City. The fact that the name of my town isn’t even on Sprint’s map is telling in and of itself. You’ll notice the lack of any orange in a hundred mile radius of that little dot, right?

Ok, back to the phone saga – this all comes together. The phone I wanted to purchase was $300. Well, not that I don’t love capitalism in all it’s glory, I ain’t paying $300 for a freaking cell phone. Sprint has a “promotion” wherein they will “rebate” up to $150 off a phone if you’ve had 2 years of service, or activate a new line with a 2year contract. Ok, had service with them well over 2 years* and $150 doesn’t sound nearly as bad. Well, time to read the fine print on the little “deal” they offer.

To take advantage of these offers, your account must be in good standing, and you’ll need to sign up for the following:

A $34.99 per month or higher Sprint PCS Service Plan
Either a new one- or two-year Sprint subscriber agreement
Sprint PCS VisionSM (if purchasing a Sprint PCS VisionSM phone

A phone activation fee of up to $36 may apply.
Program expires March 31, 2006.

Well, the phone I wanted was a Sprint PSC Vision phone. But, as a glance at the map would show, that service isn’t available to me. Dammit, I felt discriminated against simply for living in a somewhat rural area.

So being a savvy consumer, I decided to contact Sprint and give them an opportunity to make a long standing on time paying customer happy. I wasn’t asking for much, just a simple waiver of the requirement that I spend what would amount to $360 (over the 2 years) on a service that I wasn’t able to obtain. Yeah, I know, spending $360 to save $150 doesn’t sound all that smart either – but if the service had been available in my area, I would have spent the money anyway – so you could say I was only spending $210 by taking the rebate on the phone – right?

So, this is what I get in response to my well-written, polite and completely literate email to Sprint Customer Service. I kid you not, I am not making this up, this is the actual copy and paste of the Email that Sprint Customer “Service” sent me. (the red highlights are my comments)

Thank you for contacting Sprint together with Nextel. I will be happy to assist you regarding regarding the EVDO phone.

I will reply your concern in points just to make it easier to understand. (ok,not a good start, that pissed me off the moment I read it)

1. Regardingthe rebate :

The EVDO phones can only be used with the EVDO plans. They are not compatible with the normal vision plan. So, if you will purchase a EVDOcapable phone, the EVDO vision pack is must. (Apparently English isn’t his/her first language)

2. We are working on this and also spending our ares so that we will be able to offer all of our customers with the EVDO offers. (WTF?!? Again literacy not a strong point in the hiring process at Sprint)

Please let me know if there is anything else I an do for you. It is always a pleasure serving a responsible customer like you. (ahh, an acknowledgment that Sprint makes a fortune off me – he who never uses all his minutes, but pays for them anyway)

Further, To assist you in an effective manner, we require certain additional information for which we need to personally talk to you. We have a dedicated group of customer specialists, who work on resolving concerns such as yours. (Right, your dedication is real impressive)

Therefore, I request you to contact us at 1-888-211-4727. When prompted to enter your PCS Phone Number, enter any of your 10 digit home or work phone number. When you hear our virtual representative, give the verbal command ‘Representative’ or ‘Specialist’. Your call will be directed to one of our specialists who would be glad to assist you. (yes, I really want to call an 888 number, burn my minutes up to speak to a computer – swell day)

Thank you for contacting us. Have a great day.

Neo (NEO? NEO?? I’m getting emails from the fricking Matrix?)
Sprint together with Nextel
“Where our customers come first!”

That above letter from Sprint was actually the 2nd I got from “Neo”. The first one was the exact same wording. I suppose the reason for the 2nd one was because I wrote this to Sprint.

Dear “Customer Solutions”,

I asked a simple question regarding the upgrade program that you offer. I consider the upgrade program unfair because it requires me to subscribe to a service that is not available in my area and may never be. To stop from having to do that, I felt as though I was being pushed into buying an inferior handset. So, being a long time customer of SprintPCS, I asked a simple question – is there any other option that would help me get the phone I wanted and not have to pay for an option I am unable to use. OK, I wanted a waiver of that requirement, heck I should be considered an ideal customer, I never use even close to the amount of minutes for which I pay for – Sprint makes money on me every month.

What do I get in response? A condescending “point by point” letter from someone who is barely literate and uses a signature of “Neo”. Swell. For the first time since becoming a Sprint customer, I am actively looking for another carrier. I am normally an undemanding Customer, but I feel as though by living in an area that isn’t considered “metropolitian”, I’m being discriminated against.

I’m not feeling as though “I come first” in this situation.

Apparently, my response went back to NEO, who sent the 2nd email. I doubt he was able to comprehend my reply, so that part doesn’t bother me.

So – I’m the worst sort of consumer in that when I feel wronged, I never – ever – go back or deal with that company again. One of the local casinos down here had a dealer that ticked me off back in 1989 and I haven’t stepped foot in that joint since. Serious grudge holder I am.

So, it’s off to deal with Verizon. That’s a whole nudder post.

Peace out.


*Been with Sprint for over 9 years


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