The Sprint #Wishaday project: Reasons to Avoid a Sprint plan (Part I)

sprint ban, sprint logo, avoid aprint, truth about sprintSorry to interrupt my regular blog posting session, but I just had to write this…

What is the Sprint #wishaday project?

Why I’m doing this and my Sprint #wishaday goal:

I’d like to terminate my parents’ Sprint mobile plan, just after months of signing the contract. I’d like to terminate the plan with no termination fee and still hold the number we have”

Please read the post further, if you want to understand.

I will post this article on this blog first (I have four different blogs and my biggest one is my GrrrlTraveler blog) and tweet this each day on my two Twitter handles, until I find successful termination.

How many days will it take ?  

The number count will equal the number of “Reasons” to Avoid Getting a Sprint Plan

I will count the number of days my Twitter accounts at @grrrltraveler @ckaaloa have tweeted this. And the number I end on will be the number of reasons to avoid to Sprint. Maybe I won’t get early termination, so my blogging and tweeting will continue and more posts on reasons to avoid Sprint will accrue out of this.

What you can do:

Post it on your social networks (Retweet, Stumble it , Reddit it, Digg it, post it on Facebook, post it in forums or community pages) or write your own post about Sprint, or whether you think this project is stupid or not.  We’re all mobile consumers and customers and whether or not you’re like me, trying to get an affordable plan for my senior parents, you’ll have to deal with similar issues and growing charges if you choose Sprint. Basically, this is a movement to just get it out on the web, so that potential customers of cellphone plans can be better informed. So spread the word.
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How Sprint scammed my senior parents and me!

My senior parents  had successfully avoided signing up for a contract for years.  

They had been loyal customers of Nextel. Why? Their monthly bill  rounded to a total of $40/month for two phones at a very basic plan of 200 minutes/month.

Like most seniors, they barely use their cellphones and still have a landline. So often, they don’t come anywhere near 100 minutes of total cellphone usage. Instead, the cellphones are for mobile emergencies and because they occasionally like to go to Las Vegas and it’s a way to connect with each other. That’s it.

When I came home from living in Asia and traveling, I was started using their phones a little more and found there were times people couldn’t hear me on the other end. Nextel tried switching out our actual phones and it still didn’t work.

Finally, I went in, and one of the Sprint/Nextel salesmen said that Nextel didn’t have good coverage and were discontinuing their service by the start of the 2012 year. He said, it would be better if my parents switched to Sprint if we needed to buy new phones anyways and if we just signed up with Sprint now, their plan wouldn’t change greatly. Not to mention,  we could get basic phones for $50.

The most important thing on my mind was plan costs; although the thought of my parents calling 911 and not being heard on the other end worried me too. I told the sales guy it was the low monthly cost my folks were after. They didn’t want to pay much more than what they had. Even a $10 increase for a plan switch warranted a definite “No”. They needed a plan cost comparable to Nextel’s $40/mo billing plan.

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The Sprint salesman assured me that my Senior parents’ monthly bill wouldn’t change greatly… boy, did he lie through his teeth.

At most, it might cost a “couple of dollars” more, but the difference wasn’t great by any means, the salesman reassured me.

He said initially, we’d have to sign up for their basic 700 minute/plan, which wasn’t a big cost difference and then one month later, we could switch to the 200 minute/month plan at the lower rate. My parents wouldn’t even notice the price difference.

“No other fees?”  I asked suspiciously. My parents were very staunch about signing a contract with anyone.

The sales guy answered … “None.”

So cost change won’t be much higher than $40/month right?

“Right,” he said.

So with assurance from the Sprint salesman, I switched the plan and sign my parents up for a two year contract.

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Realizing the Sprint sales representative ripped us off

Cut to 4 months later … and my mother rushing to me with the Sprint bill

$196 ?!

Other bills ranged $100 or higher. Stress and hyperventilation hit me hard.

The bill didn’t make sense. Sprint bills aren’t easy-to-read bills. You can’t easily make out what’s going on.

My parents had the most basic and ugly bug-like phone with no features. Even developing countries have nicer phones  and together, they were using under 100 minutes a month. But now, they were paying extreme prices, as if they were ripping on iPhones.

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Why did it take us so long to realize their bill was not the same?

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My senior father is 80 years old and is undergoing the initial stages of Alzheimmers…  he was automatically paying the Sprint bill.

The family has been slow to realize what my dad was going through, and he’s been handling the family finances for years. But by the holiday season, we knew. Thus, their finances were switched over to my mother to handle.

One day, she saw the bill and didn’t know why it was so high when they never used it

The  monthly billing jumped  from Nextel’s $40/month to Sprint’s $80/month and then the additional costs were several add-on services the salesman sneakily signed us up for without our permission…

Direct Connect, Total Emergency & Protection... a 700 minute/month plan and we’d been paying it for 4 months.

I had forgotten to change it back to the 200 min/mo plan.

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 “Sorry, there’s nothing I can do” and Sprint’s unpleasant customer service

At the neighborhood Sprint store, a young Filipino boy in Customer Sales and Support was of no use.

“Sorry, there’s nothing I can do,” his deadpan auto-response repeated over and over. He was starting to look visibly annoyed, by my refusal to let my billing issue go.

His lack of customer support and easy surrender to the problem, threw my blood-pressure higher :

“You try realizing your 80 year old dad’s got dementia and was paying over $500 for four months on a plan, that barely accrued 700 minutes… and the sales guy that sold you this plan said it’d be close to $40/month!”

“Sorry, there’s nothing I can do.” 

I asked to speak to the manager.

Out came a young Japanese boy with a mohawk hair. Whatever that Filipino boy said to the manager about me, it was clear the manager was ready. The manager looked stern, distrustful and guarded. Together, neither of them were smiling, but held a heavy air. They were clearly on the same page about the “type of customer” I was being.

“And why didn’t your parents come in sooner? ” the manager spoke stern and suspiciously.

“I only looked at it now and my father is old and hasn’t been in his right mind, so he’s been paying everything.”

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How Sprint customer support covers up it’s own screwups, badly. 

Eventually, the manager said he’d remove all the additional services that we never signed up for and he’d refund three months of that. But not the fourth month. The fourth month of all those additional services that had been illegally tacked onto our bill without notice, we’d have to pay for.

But what about what the Sprint sales guy told us about the 200 month plan we’d be able to switch to?  

Sprint only had a 700 minute/ month plan and the only 200 minute/ month plan, was no way similar or close to the cost plan we gave up with Nextel. The manager claimed there was no salesperson in his store, who could’ve offered or sold us something comparable to what we were convinced to give up/switch over from.

The manager said our Sprint sales guy sold us something that never existed. Now we had a 2 year contract and there was nothing we could do.

Sorry, there’s nothing you can do,”  He said.
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Getting threatened by the Sprint manager over customer feedback

I was only partially satisfied. Getting a partial refund was better than none at all was my consolation.

But now the manager wanted to close the situation.

“Because I was so helpful to give you a partial refund, then I’d like you to give this customer support experience a grading of “perfect” when Sprint calls for customer feedback. ” the manager said with an unnerved look.

 “To be specific, I’d expect a grading of no less than “perfect”, because I did this for you

His look was now so serious. It was actually scary.  I couldn’t believe my ears.

Are you serious?!

This is America.. not some developing country with corrupt police and government workers.Since when did Sprint sink to the level of ‘mafioso‘?

But the manager had access to all my personal information before him, I was afraid to argue further. Part of me is even afraid to post this on my blogs, but future customers need to know.

I felt pissed off,  ripped off, swindled and the ugly way I was treated at customer service, was a huge stain I felt going home.

I felt violated and then to make it worse, I was threatened to lie and smile at the half-assed result.  It was ” Sprint cellphone plan rape.”

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Three things that made Sprint customer service worse than bad?

The customer is obviously, not always right with Sprint.

1. Sprint didn’t accept responsibility for his team or colleagues’ mistakes. 

Apologize, address the screwup and deal with the the situation and trouble-shoot it onward.

The manager avoided his colleagues’ mistake or acknowledging my situation as a fault or failure of Sprint, which it clearly was. He didn’t apologize … not once.

That tells me, Sprint has got ego and they protect employee screwups and scapegoat the customer.

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2. Sprint was reluctant to give me any refund, even though his team was in the wrong.

Sprint had illegally tacked extra services onto our bill without approval… It’s plain logic that we should’ve gotten a full refund.

Fact: Sprint managers can easily authorize refunds, especially when it’s a mistake on Sprint’s side.  I’ve had them retract several charges in the past, due to system mistakes… and with Sprint, there are a lot.

That the manager was so tight with refunds, told me had ego. Hawaii works different from big cities like New York or Los Angeles,.. there’s a lot of personal ego and sensitivity towards people who come in with complaints. No one likes to “lose face”.  The less unwilling you are to back down from your fight, the less customer service you get. The manager… he was saving face.

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3. Sprint “threatened” me for a positive feedback.

Yow! “Threatening” and “positive” don’t fit in the same sentence, do they?

As a customer, I’m dealing with Sprint screw-ups,… not mine own. If your company is creating more stress and distrust for me, I’m not going to reward you for it. It’s a bitch to have to wait on a phone queue to speak to customer service and a pain to drive to a Sprint store to make billing complaints.

As a customer, I’m assuming, I’m paying Sprint (and its employees) to do their job well and keep me happy.

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Afternote:  The bill continues to come and it’s usually $100/month for a plan that my senior parents barely make 100 minutes for.  I used to be a loyal Sprint customer years ago. But after going through this, it’s soured my feelings towards using them.  I need a cellphone carrier but think Sprint is the last service I’ll look at.

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Upcoming Post:

5 Scary Reasons to Avoid a Sprint plan  and the ugly truth behind going paperless (Part II) >>

Future Post:

Why seniors should avoid Sprint plans  (Part III)  >>

 

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