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My nightmare with Sprint customer service (part 2 - read, you'll laugh)

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Journeyman

My nightmare with Sprint customer service (part 2 - read, you'll laugh)

Below is a letter I've sent to Dan Hesse, CEO and posted on multiple blogs:

Dan:

I remember your email address from the commercials regarding customer service and thought I'd see if this email would actually fall on receptive ears.

I'd like to share the last 72 hours of what my wife and I are jokingly calling "Sprint Hell."

A little about me (please correct me if this is incorrect)...I believe I've been a Sprint customer for 8+ years.  I have two lines of service, mobile broadband card and my monthly bill is roughly $250.  I don't believe I've been late or missed a single payment in 8 years.  From my perspective, I should be a valued client -one who has not left for one of your competitors.

In early August my wife received a replacement phone through customer service. This exchange was handled by your call center and was prompt and professional. However, prior to calling them, I visited the store at Tatum & Cactus in Phoenix. The representative told me there would be a charge to service it/replace it. This was the first example of a complete disconnect between this store and the call center.

Three days ago, the keypad and trackball on this phone stopped working. My first call was to customer service. After being greeted on the phone and providing my information and a summary of the problem, I was put on hold and then subsequently, disconnected. Of course, a couple of minutes later, your employee called me back on the phone that I can’t answer (as I already told her) because the keypad does not work. At this point, common sense would dictate calling the other line on the account or sending an email, but this was not the case. Total time: 10 minutes.

Rather than having another possible incident on the phone, I drove to the store at Tatum & Cactus (yes, this is a corporate store, not a franchise or re-seller) and was asked to leave the phone with them for one hour. I agreed and when I came back to pick up the phone, I was told that it could not be fixed and I would be charged $119 to replace. I informed the employee that the phone had just been replaced 45 days prior, but he did not seem to recognize why this was important. Total time 1 hour, 20 minutes.

Upon leaving, I called the 1-800 number for customer service and explained the situation for a third time. Again, the representative did not care that the phone was replaced only 45 days prior and told me that I would have to add insurance to my line and then she could send me the upgraded version of the phone for $109. I said OK, but I need tomorrow because we are leaving for a business trip on Wednesday. “No problem” was the reply I received. While I still thought the other phone should have been replaced free of charge, I was OK getting a newer model so long as it came before we left. Total time: 15 minutes.

This morning I woke up and shortly thereafter received an automated response with the order number and tracking number. Of course, rather than being sent overnight, the delivery was scheduled for Friday. After numerous unsuccessful attempts to re-route the package with both your customer service department and UPS’, I call your Account Services number (877-775-4886). I have to assume this is also the retention department because my calls are immediately answered by a human. At this point, I explain the situation again (now for the fourth time). The agent I spoke with this morning was receptive and seemed very concerned – he even had his manager come on the line and speak with me. Both of them suggested that if I needed a phone before Friday to go to my local store (Tatum & Cactus), not the most convenient course of action, but the one most likely to solve the immediate problem. Total time: 15 minutes.

This afternoon my wife returned to my neighborhood Sprint store at Tatum & Cactus. She explain the situation for the fifth time now and then the agent tells her that yes, she can do this, and however, there will be a $35 restocking fee when we bring it back. The Verizon store is less than a mile from this store – I was in the car on the way when I decided to try calling Account Services again. Not only was the agent rude to my wife, he was also unwilling to check the account notes regarding this. Total time: 30 minutes.

I absolutely unloaded on the last agent I spoke with – he handled himself very well. In addition to agreeing with my frustration, he also informed me that all of the previous agents had been incorrect and in fact, the defective phone should have been replaced free of charge. He was also able to get his supervisor to agree that they would credit back the $35 return fee if I still wanted to purchase a phone from the store. Total time: 10 minutes.

With two hours and forty minutes invested in this process, I decided to step back. I cannot believe that there was so much wrong information presented numerous times from different sources. Additionally, there is absolutely no dialogue between the call centers and the stores. For $100, I can purchase two new Blackberry Bold phones from Verizon and have a similar calling plan and rate. Is it more expensive? Yes. Am I willing to pay $10 extra per month so that I never have to deal with Sprint customer service again – no question.

The best example I can give you is my experience with American Express. I’ve been a card holder for roughly the same period of time that I’ve had Sprint service. The difference between the two companies is that when I have a problem, disputed charge or get stuck traveling, I call American Express and they fix it immediately with no questions. I realize it is an entirely different business model and your bottom line and/or ratios are different, however, at what point does one of your agents evaluate me as a customer and think “I’m going to fix his problem so he remains a customer?” At the end of the day, I am only trying to get your equipment so that I can spend my money on your network. Is this being lost in translation? Do your employees not understand that they would be enabling me to spend more money with your company by resolving the problem? Perhaps not, or perhaps I am one-dimensional in my analysis of the situation.

More than anything, I would have appreciated someone saying to me, “I’m sorry, we’ll make this right for you,” and no one did. I’d like to hear your thoughts on this and what, if anything can be done to improve the process. I would like to remain a Sprint customer; however, I am undecided after this. On a side note, have you seen the Domino’s Pizza commercials? I listened to their CEO talk about reaching out to customers and improving their product and how it has increased business 60%.

Sincerely,

Jake

2 REPLIES 2
Journeyman

Re: My nightmare with Sprint customer service

Jake:

You are in quite of a conundrum and I was in that type of situation earlier. I have been a very long term customer (more than 5+years with Sprint and 7 years with Nextel), and over a 1 month and 3 day span made me think twice of my relationship with Sprint for my future wireless carrier. Yes the coverage is great in my area, and phone selections are decent (I use a blackberry) but the customer service seems to be lacking for some strange reason. Coming from Nextel I expected great things with a high level of customer service going to Sprint; boy was a wrong. A lot of the customer service reps between the store and the call centers seem to be not giving out the correct information and it is difficult to get the right one. If you actually email dan@sprint.com they do listen to you. I emailed them at 10am and they emailed me and called me at 12 noon the same day. They mentioned how sorry they were and other things and talked to me about how to resolve the issue I was going through. I wish that I was given that proper attention during my ordeal instead of nothing at all. Npw, since I am treated with respected, although it is too late because i wont be coming back to Sprint, leaves me a great taste in my mouth. If i want to ever re-join them, they will take care of me.

So my word of advice: if you want to stay with  Sprint (which I didn’t) you have to talk to those people who are much higher than customer service reps. Try to get a dedicated person who handles your account if you are so lucky. Email that dan@sprint.com with your concerns and complaints because they do listen. I think the customer service is still bad but it is improving if they are trying very hard to fix people’s issues.  Companies like Sprint need to focus more on customer service as that is key to any industry, especially this one when we are already close to 100% saturated in the mobile market.

Great story about American Express and I agree 100%. I have AMEX too and have received great customer service from them.

Adam.

PS. I hope that helps

Journeyman

Re: My nightmare with Sprint customer service

Below is my second email letter to Dan after someone from Sprint did contact me:

Dan:

I thought I would write you a follow up email to my previous message this afternoon. I was VERY impressed that someone from your staff responded within one hour. I never anticipated that I’d receive such a quick response, nor did I expect to hear from you directly-as I do not expect a personal response from you now.

Unfortunately, what I did expect was that my problem would not be solved by whoever read my email and contacted me. I was correct. The customer service agent who called me actually failed to read my entire letter, so I had the privilege of repeating my ordeal for the sixth time. Did you ever see the movie Forest Gump? I feel like I’m Forest Gump screaming “Lieutenant Dan, Lieutenant Dan…” Is anyone listening? Actually, a better comparison would be to a 1-900 number where I just continue to pay, talk and then get screwed. To her credit, Angela was very kind and receptive. However, I believe she had her hands tied by company policy.

Let me take the opportunity to address the next customer service agent reading this email who will subsequently call me – unless you have a higher pay grade than the previous representative, are authorized to actually fix problems, release my from my contracts and fire me as a customer or are willing to credit my account, don’t call me– give this message to your manager and let them decided how to deal with it. Be assured, I will ask for your name and employee number so that I can include you in my next email or blog post. I am sick of lip service.

Funny thing is that I am stuck with Sprint for the time being. You (Sprint) were going to charge me $119 to replace an old Blackberry Curve. Of course, one of my lines is eligible for an upgrade – so I upgraded that phone and gave the old phone to my wife. Total cost after tax was $212 – double what I would have paid to leave and go to Verizon. However, I’ve realized that to post on the Sprint Forums, it really helps if you are a current customer. So, after 4 hours of total investment solving this problem, I’ve decided to pony up the cash, remain a customer and retain my right to complain about service that is terrible.
 
My logic is simple, I will continue to write comical reviews of your customer service and post them on as many internal blogs, external blogs, vendor sites and websites as possible and wait for other disgruntled customers to share their similar experience. And I know they are out there…correct me if I am wrong, but I believe you’ve lost more customers over the past 2 years than in the history of your company. I believe you lost about 200,000 subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2009, ending the year with 48.1 million customers and posting a fourth-quarter net loss of $980 million on revenues of $7.9 billion.

Lieutenant Dan, Lieutenant Dan…unfortunately, life is like a box of chocolates and we do know what we’re going to get with you – terrible service.

Sincerely,

Jake

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