Marketing Genius from Maple Creative


Marketing tips, observations & philosophy, plus a few rants and random musings - from those who practice, preach and teach marketing, research, advertising, public relations and business strategy.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

A Sprint Customer No More

Sprint infuriated me.

Sprint lost me as a customer.

I was a three-year, satisfied Sprint customer. Two phones, max minutes each on the account. Our monthly bill is always around $250. For me, my mobile phone is a tool ... a money maker. It's as vital to me as a scalpel to a surgeon or a hammer to a carpenter.

I hate to fool with account settings, choices or selections on any product or service. Just too busy to keep up with such things. Set it once and forget it--that's my modus operandi.

One day last Fall, I noticed my monthly bill had skyrocketed. We weren't doing anything differently, as far as minutes, roaming, etc. I eventually checked my Sprint account online. Guess what? Sprint had allowed my account plan to expire. Instead of notifying me, they dumped me into their "list price" plan--the most expensive option. I was paying "rack rate" to borrow a term from the hotel industry. Is that any way to treat a longtime customer?


Sprint infuriated me. Sprint lost me as a customer.

But wait. It gets worse.

One day Sprint cut me off. They disabled my service on a busy Friday. No warnings, no phone calls, no e-mail messages. Just cut me off cold. Friday is a day for closing deals and completing business. Not a day to be with cell phone service.

In fairness, I readily admit that I pay my bills a bit late. Our account is always paid about 15-20 days beyond the due date. I pay bills once a month. Hey - I'm a busy father/ author/ teacher/ husband/ entrepreneur/ business owner/ marketing guy. So please cut me some slack.

One would think that since I'm using their PHONE, they could have CALLED me to remind me that the account was past due. Jeesh!

Instead, they disabled my service so that any button I pressed immediately routed me to their call center in India. I happily talked to the account rep in India. He offered me one option: "Sir, how would you like to pay your bill today? Credit card? Or would you like me to debit the funds from your bank account?"


I wanted to express my complaints and concerns to a manager. Grudgingly, the call center rep transfers my call. After a couple dozen rings and several hard-click transfers, the call winds up squarely back in India at the same call center. Play the movie all over again ... sir ... pay your bill ... debit the funds.

You gotta be kidding me. I am beyond annoyed. I'm ballistic.

Finally, I got to talk to a nice lady somewhere in New Jersey. She was willing to listen to my concerns, in a professional manner. I'm telling her about how Sprint is losing me as a customer, losing a three-year relationship, two phones, three grand a year in revenues. Then, suddenly, the Sprint network dropped my call.

A metaphor? Yes. Ironic? You bet.

Stay tuned. There's a lesson here. And yes, it gets even worse.

--- To be continued ---


Blogger Mau said...

A similar "adventure" happened to a friend of mine, down here in Texas: his account expired and he got charged regular, super-high rates.

I guess Skype will be our last hope...

8:14 AM

Blogger Tom said...

I was pretty satisfied with Sprint until I went to their 'Fair and Flexible' service by adding my 26 year old daughter to the 2 phones for my wife and myself.

The only 2 complaints I had against Sprint prior to this was inaccurate and unreliable online information. One time the accounting of time used changed several times in one day. After calling I was basically told not to question the online information. My second complaint was their refusal to acknowledge a bad phone. Within the first year of use for my phone it would lose it's charge. A Sprint store tested it and gave me a new battery. But, about 6 months later the problem occurred again, and has continued. According to Sprint I am now out of warranty and too bad. But, I said, I reported the problem while the phone was in warranty. But, they said, 'Your out of warranty now." I didn't feel like a 'treasured' customer, and I didn't like the way Sprint has been treating me.

Part of the deal with my daughter has been she watches the use of her minutes and makes an effort to use the 'free' part of the service. I particularly like that she could go online to watch use. Unknown to me, and her several services were added for 2 free months. When we got the phone we made it clear we wanted a phone an no additional services, such as text messaging and video. Well, she got them free for 2 months after which she would be billed.

OK, got that straightened out but then I went online to look at usage and pay the bill and the report had changed. I still find it a confusing report, but frankly don't understand why my phone is no longer the 'main' phone. Sprint says the 'newest' phone is the principle phone, which is now my daughter and she gets the total and summary information. Other phones get information about that phone numbers useage online. We can deal with this policy but it took some time to understand what had changed and work it out.

With these accumulated annoyances I decided to write the CEO of Sprint. A few weeks later I received a phone call from someone in his office who spoke with me, understood and sympathized with me about the problems and promised to look into it and get back to me.

It's been about 3 months now. Do you think I'll get a response?

Well, in about a year my Sprint contract expires, and most likely so will my loyalty to Sprint. Too bad, they could be good.


PS One thing I have learned about Sprint. There is not 1 Sprint. I live in New Hampshire and there is only 1 Sprint store in NH. While the place I bought the phone for my daughter had a big "Sprint" logo hanging on it is not a Sprint store. It's an 'affiliate'. Whole different organization. They don't talk to each other nor respect each others commitments. It's obviously part of the problem, but apparently not a problem to be dealt with by Sprint.

11:26 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently ended my long six-year relationship with Sprint. I rolled my number into the wonderful world of AT&T...I couldn't be happier.

3:06 PM

Blogger Skip Lineberg said...

Thanks for all of these wonderfully sad comments about Sprint. It still appears that their customer service and billing processes leave much to be desired.


6:32 PM


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