Dear Sprint i1 Out of Here (A customer service nightmare)
A Customer Service Nightmare
DEAR SPRINT: i1 Out Of Here!
A true story
My husband has had the same cell phone for nearly six years. Our cell phones use the Sprint network. My husband is a shift foreman in a Lime Plant and everyone uses the NexTel platform to communicate. Needless to say, my husband’s phone is an older flip phone and it has serious scars from the wear and tear it has seen over the years.
For this Valentines Day, I went to Sprint.com and clicked on the “upgrade this phone” button, and then proceeded to purchase an i1 phone for my loving, hard working husband. When it arrived in the mail two days later, my husband was elated. He activated the phone and charged it. The old phone (held together with electrical tape) went in the trash.
Four days later the new phone died. It stopped working. It would not even turn on. We went to Sprint.com and followed all of their troubleshooting suggestions to no avail. My husband was crestfallen. I first utilized the nifty chat feature on Sprint.com and talked to Jalissa. I explained my situation and Jalissa kindly gave me a number to call. I called the Sprint number.
Bernie was my Sprint voice for the first call. After hearing of our dilemma, Bernie gave me a ticket number and directed me to the nearest corporate Sprint store, which is 68 miles from our house. Bernie explained that when the store employee pulls up the ticket number, he will see that all he has to do is replace the phone. I took off work and drove an hour to the Sprint store. This is where phase one began.
Two employees were in the entire store. Both were busy with customers. I was told to wait, as were the four others who walked in behind me. I waited so long that three of the other potential customers returned their purchases to the shelves and walked out of the store. This should have been a red flag. At last, Jason said he would help me. I approached the counter and handed him the box containing the now defunct phone. I pulled out my driver’s license, my paperwork, and my ticket number (from Bernie) and placed them on the counter. I said the following,
“Hi. I talked to Bernie at Sprint this morning and he directed me to this store. I have a broken phone under the 30 day warranty and it needs to be exchanged for a new phone.”
Jason eyed me, looked at the box, and said, “Can you prove you paid for this phone? When exactly did you order this phone and from where?”
I told him I ordered it from Sprint.com while in my Sprint account, and that it was an upgrade, and I verified my online payment. Jason checked the ticket number on the computer - so I know he saw the work order. His suspicion dropped and he opened the box. He took the phone out. He pried it open, removed the battery, replaced said battery, then snapped it shut. He returned the phone to the box and pushed the box back across the counter to me.
Jason said, “Well, there is nothing I can do for you at this point.”
I said, “Sprint has already told me that I can return my broken phone here and you will replace it with a new one.”
Jason looked irritated and said, “Well, I really don’t know why they told you that – we don’t do that here and there is nothing I can do. I don't even have a phone to give you (there were several on the shelf in the store!). My advice to you would be to take this phone down the road to a repair center and see if they will fix it. It will cost $35 for them to look at it.”
I called Sprint from my cell phone, right there in the store. He angered slightly and told me that would do no good since there was nothing he could do. He gave me directions to the repair shop. “Is the repair store corporate?” I asked. “No.”
Still on the phone with Sprint, I left the Sprint store and hit the road. Now I was talking to Matthew. Matthew was seemingly disgusted by my account of the store clerk’s behavior, and he stated that it was not right for me to take this phone to a repair center when it could have been replaced. I told him that Jason refused. Matthew went on and on checking my account and verifying I had bought the phone and asking for security words and all – only to transfer me to James.
James was in a different department and didn’t know what the heck was going on. I thought James might have an answer for me, so I repeated ALL of my information, including account number and security questions and so on. By now I had driven 76 miles and had spent over an hour on the phone with Sprint. As I sat in the parking lot of said repair place, James told me Jaosn should have given me a replacement phone in the store. I was then advised NOT to take my phone to the repair center and that what I needed was an ORDER RETURN KIT. Hence, another transfer…and another 18 minutes on hold.
Meet Brian. Brian does not know what the heck is going on so I start at the beginning, run him through the plot, answer all pertinent security questions and wait patiently for Brian to find my account. There seems to be a problem. Did I mention Brian sounds suspiciously foreign and the connection on his end is very sketchy? I was put on hold twice – the second time I was on hold for precisely 23 minutes. WOW. Brian returns to tell me that he and his supervisor cannot help me – they are confused by my account – and that he will transfer me to Alicia.
Poor Alicia, this is what she heard after she said “hi my name is Alicia what can I do for you…”
“Alicia, hi. My name is Sarah and you are the SEVENTH person at Sprint with which I have spoken today. Last week I upgraded my phone by purchasing an i1 online at Sprint.com and after four days, the new phone has stopped working. I just want a working i1. I have been through Bernie, who gave me a ticket number to give to Jason. I drove 70 miles to see Jason and he refused to help me, stating that I was misinformed and he would neither take my phone nor issue me a new one. Jason sent me to a repair shop where he said I would pay $35 to have the broken i1 examined. Matthew told me I needed a return kit. James was very confused and put me on hold for half an hour and now I am here. Can you, Alicia, either fix my broken new phone or get me another new i1?”
Poor Alicia. She was silent for a moment, then said – very carefully – “Wow. I am so sorry for your obvious troubles today. However, I have to inform you that Brian really is confused because this is the new accounts department." She cannot help me in any way. She did, however, give me two numbers I needed – one being the Orders Return Kit number. Thank you Alicia. Good luck, she said. How many red flags is that?
Enter my reluctant phone conversation with Brad. Ohhh Brad. 12 minutes of our conversation consist of account numbers and security questions and confirmation tactics, and finally we get to the burning question: What can I do for you today, Mrs. Jackson?” I unloaded both barrels – but in a very professional tone – because I am well aware that Brad has not set out to personally destroy my sanity in one day. Sprint, yes. Brad, he was just an unfortunate victim at this point. Brad remains perky and tells me he can resolve my problem! And this is what the man said:
“They should have been able to give you a replacement phone in the store. No problem. I am sending you a return kit right now. You will get this kit in 3-5 business days (it took the last one over a week, by the way) and you must put the broken device and its box into the envelope and send it UPS back to us. Once we get it and the phone is in the warehouse, we will refund your money for the purchase of the phone. Then you can log onto Sprint.com and order a new i1, which will take 3-5 business days to reach you. Or, if you need the phone sooner (sooner than 2 weeks – well, DUH) I can go ahead and take your payment for the new i1 over the phone today and ship it out by tomorrow morning….I don’t know what the price of the phone is in your area ($149. before rebate), but we have it at $349.99…..”
Me: “WHAT?!??!! I just paid for a new phone! I am not going to BUY another new phone!!! And NOT at $349!!!! I didn’t pay that much for the one I’ve got!!! Listen – I bought a new phone – it stopped working – I need a replacement – why is this SO DIFFICULT? Brad – do you realize you are the EIGHTH person at Sprint I have spoken to today??! This is simply not acceptable. I will drive 140 miles round trip today because of Sprint and my cell phone battery is almost dead and yet I STILL do not have ANY resolution in sight! May I speak to your supervisor?”
Brad was cheery. “We don’t have a supervisor in this department, m’am. Well, those are your options. Or….let me transfer you to another department….”
I was put on hold faster than you can blink. I sat on hold for 11 minutes. By now I was seething and ready for one hell of a fight. Here comes happy Gary – ready to assist me. Need I say it? Guess what happened next – yep. Account numbers, phone numbers, security questions – on and on and on. Gary really did try to help – end even let me bark at his supervisor – but Sprint was NOT coming off a replacement phone unless I A) paid full price for a brand new i1, or B) settled for a refurbished, used i1 and paid an extra $15 out of my pocket for shipping on top of it. The Gary’s supervisor says, “Well, they should have replaced your phone at the store, but we can’t control what the stores do.” I said to Gary and his supervisor: “If you bought a new car and it broke after four days, and you returned it to the lot because it was under warranty and they told you that you could have an older used car to drive or buy ANOTHER brand new one – how would that MAKE YOU FEEL?!?? I just want good customer service!!!!!!”
“Mrs. Jackson, be sure to send that return kit back as soon as you place your phone in it – it has a tracking device and write that number down in case you need it…”
“Mrs. Jackson, would you like to take a survey?’
It is now 5:30 in the evening. I have driven over 150 miles. I have spent over four hours on the phone with customer service. I am not counting the times I spent punching numbers to get through the jungle of menus the Sprint phone service has. I started at 8:00 AM. I am tired. I am ill. I still have a box which contains a broken phone. The supervisor asked me if my account might be “at risk” because of this. YES – even with the maniacal fees Sprint demands we loyal customers pay should they give us wretched service and we decide to end our contract. Right now – it is worth paying a fee! The worst part? I still have a broken phone and thus my husband has no phone to use. I am frustrated beyond words. AT&T? Verizon? I think I should start shopping for plans. Or maybe a good old fashioned land line is good enough all over again. Whatever the case, I think 6 years with Sprint has been 6 years too much.
The Update - Well, even though I SPECIFICALLY told Sprint more than once that I just wanted to send them the broken phone and I did NOT under any circumstance want them to charge me for another new phone, they did exactly that. The following morning I opened this email...
First and foremost I would like to apologize for this experience that you've had with Sprint. I am personally dedicated to resolving this issue for you tonight. I have engaged with my supervisor on this issue and the problem with you having to pay up front has been corrected. The account spending limit has been removed from the account so you now have to option of billing to your account.
We have processed a 30 Day Model Exchange for you. There is no one that you have to call or contact, I have spoken to our Order Support department on your behalf and we have the Motorola i1 on it's way to you. Shipping with be standard 2 to 5 day shipping and the tracking number has been sent to your e-mail. Now, there is a charge for the 30 Day Model Exchange it's for the same price as the first one. Since we had the ASL removed we can bill the account so you wont have to pay up front. Once we receive the defective phone, a credit will be placed on the account and the credit and charge will cancel each other out. The return kit has been issued and it is imperative we receive the defective phone back, if not, the charge for the model exchange will remain on the account.
You can track the order by going to www.sprint.com/myorder. This model exchange does not renew your 30-Day Satisfaction Guarantee Policy in place where you can switch do a different phone if you were unsatisfied with the purchase. This is due to the policy applying to the first purchased phone for the upgrade.
Once again I apologize on behalf of Sprint for the difficulty you went through today. You can reply to this e-mail and I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have or assist you with any other issues concerning your account.
Sprint World Wide Support
For future assistance, visit My Sprint Business at http://ecenter.sprint.com
I sent back:
Dear David. M.
Everyone with which I spoke at Sprint yesterday told me they were personally dedicated to resolving my issue. When I opened this email this morning, I was shocked. I understand the actions you have taken concerning my account - but it is simply too late. We will be sending the new phone back. I do not want ANY new phones charged to my account - even if they are later reimbursed!!!!! This may have been a possible solution yesterday around my first or second phone call to Sprint customer care, but at this point in time I just want to leave quickly and painlessly. As of now, I will ride out my contract until it is up - the thought of spending even more money to sever my contract makes me ill. I have already found some great deals out there and while I cannot promise myself any better experience with a different company, I have nothing to lose. I wish any one of the multiple Sprint employees and supervisors and store clerks yesterday had been half as determined as you have been. Nonetheless, the damage is done. I do not want a new phone. I do not want a new phone added to my account. I do not want my account adjusted, spending limits removed or raised - it's unfortunate our situation has ended this way.
So as of now, I am waiting for both a new phone - for which I have already been charged - and a "return kit." I hope both phones will fit in the return kit! Another gentleman called me yesterday - supposedly from the Presidents office or something - and he seemed to believe that because I had a new phone on the way and because this was their standard operating procedure, I would be sated and he called it a "wait and see" situation. He wants to do a follow up call on Monday. He has NO idea how angry we are. His job was to ressure me that everything will be fine in the end. I do believe the end happened yesterday! Sprint still has not done what I asked them to do. They also breached my account sans my permission and charged me for ANOTHER new phone. AT what point does this become criminal? Besides, is there even an attorney in the state who would even consider challenging a ridiculously huge corporation such as Sprint?
UPDATE: Three days later we have now sent back the broken phone and we are waiting for the "return kit" so we can return the replacement phone. I have been informed via another phone call from Sprint that if we DID decide to keep this replacement phone (no one has used the term "new" when describing the replacement phone, which intrigues me) I should be aware that the replacement phone IS NOT, I repeat NOT covered by a thirty day warranty (even though it hasn't been thirty days since the first phone was purchased!!). So, I understand that should the "replacement phone" malfunction the same way the last one did, I am up the creek without a paddle. How thoughtful of Sprint to go out of their way to tell me that important information. I also learned from Sprint that it could take up to "two billing periods" before I see any of my money returned/reimbursed! That means two months! Why so long? My money should come to them in a very prompt fashion, but I can wait for two months? Apart from redundant conversational phone calls, where is the good customer service?
I think I see something new on the Verizon....