I’ve been a customer with Sprint Wireless since 2015. To date, I have had and fulfilled my lease or finance terms with an iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 7 Plus, and iPhone X. I am currently “eligible for an upgrade,” although what this actually MEANS has become...increasingly obscure.
I have no doubt that there are other customers being similarly misinformed about their account, the iPhone Forever program, the annual upgrade add-on, and their Flex Lease agreement. Ultimately, I aim to receive some form of clarification—preferably in writing—that elaborates on the terms of each of the aforementioned programs. There seems to be a lot of discourse and general lack of knowledge among the employees of this company, whether it be online or over the phone, and I have no doubt it’s resulted in customers being incorrectly charged (or at the very least, incorrectly quoted).
I have scoured the site and can’t seem to find clarification here, there, from a dozen agents, you name it. lI’m on the Flex Lease with an iPhone X. The plan is Unlimited Freedom V17 and there’s an “annual upgrade” add-on included. I was informed by an agent I’m part of the iPhone Forever program, also (this used to be listed on my bill but since upgrading to the X I can’t actually find the iPhone Forever detail in writing on my bill or documents).
I can’t find the fine print for the iPhone Forever or annual upgrade program where it is specified they run a credit check to determine the downpayment required for your free upgrade, but apparently it’s implied there...somewhere. It seems to me that returning a device I paid money on for 12+ months would be traded in for...something? Something not requiring $300 to $500 down for my upgrade, that is.
The terms mention a possible fee of $36 (as listed on the website) but otherwise it seems that the upgrade should be free so long as I turn in the current phone in perfect condition. However, upon speaking with a sales agent I’m being informed that a $300-500 downpayment is required to order a new phone—based off of my credit (despite my approval for a second line they sprung on me in order to offer an iPad promotion).
I’ve had Sprint since 2015, as aforementioned, and my account is paid up...and they keep reminding me about this upgrade I’m eligible for. I’ve never had this requirement before when upgrading, and going through the terms this seems to be...not specified anywhere at all...so I’m a bit confused. Where is it elaborated that they run your credit and make you pay almost half down on the annual upgrade? No one seems able to specify this much. And if it’s not elaborated, it should be. I’m 24 with college debt, I know my credit isn’t fabulous, but I also don’t know WHY this upgrade is being repeatedly promoted in my terms when it’s...well, a bunch of baloney, apparently. And if it has these “fine print” conditions, they don’t seem to be freely available anywhere online. And boy, have I chatted with a lot of contradictory agents!
The $5 annual upgrade fee and standard upgrade fee of $30-36 are standard fees I was expecting and had no issue with, but I am being quoted downpayments that do not match and the reasons WHY these downpayments exist also do not match. I’m so confused at this point (I’ve been trying to deal exclusively in chat because I can keep a record of conversations).
After going in for my upgrade and being quoted $500 downpayment in-store on an iPhone XS Max 256gb, I chatted in to see how much my total final bill would be if I switched to Verizon (the phone was cheaper and the plan is right around the same cost so I thought why not), and that’s how this entire issue was brought back up. After hitting me with the “is there anyway we could keep you as a customer,” I clarified to the agent that making me pay $500 downpayment for my annual upgrade up front was absurd, I was advised I didn’t have one (which was consistent per my own experience prior). The only thing I know to do is link these conversations for reference. https://imgur.com/a/YRATP34
After speaking with this agent, I then called sales as advised. I truly wish I had managed to somehow record these calls. Anyway, the sales agent heard my request and asked if I would like a new iPad since my second line was free (I don’t have a second line). I politely advised that I don’t know what second line he was referring to, and he placed me on hold and returned with a second agent on the line (this was a lady who introduced herself as being from a credit department). She advised that I was in fact APPROVED for a second line, at which the sales agent told her he needed nothing else from her and she left once more. Now, the reception was very bad (I was on the way home from work) and I kept asking the agent to reiterate the monthly cost of this iPad, because it sounded like he said $4 and some change which sounded...not right to me. He kept repeating himself but I couldn’t understand but I swear it sounded like $4.17 and I kept saying “are you saying $4.17 for the monthly device payment?” And whether or not that is what he was actually saying he advised that unlike the lease agreement after 24 payments this would be MINE and that he was placing me on hold to “check for stock.” He came back advising he had a gold 32gb. I asked “how much will the upgrade fee be for this iPad AND the phone?” Because I know how these things work, generally. He said “I’m waiving both.” So I said “ok I suppose that would be alright then” in regards to this second line I hadn’t known was even plausible (and honestly didn’t need) and he put me back on hold to order the phone. Four minutes later, he came back to advise a $300 downpayment for the iPhone. I brought up my prior chat where I was advised no such charge, and he clarified “the downpayment is for the storage configuration.” however, even when I asked about the 64gb, he advised it would be $100 downpayment. At this point, I declined both and ended the call. I can only presume my credit was checked for this second line, but upon calling back later, no one seemed aware of this and I was simply told “I don’t HAVE a second line.” Yes, I know, but apparently I COULD have. So I was eligible for a second line and (based off my online search for this mystery iPad) the total cost of the device over 24 months ends up being about $460, and not $4 a month either. So why am I eligible for this $460 total finance second line and why can’t this $460 just be discounted from the cost of the first line I apparently don’t have the credit to cover? I digress. The calls following that call were horrendous. I spoke with multiple very rude agents (I have done my damndest to remain friendly and kind to everyone I’ve spoken with despite my own frustrations thus far so this is rather vexing) and was generally refused escalation to a supervisor by each one.
Last night I had several more text chats. I prefer these because I can keep concrete record of the things being said to me (which are varied). The experience that ensued was...again...horrendous. I simply want to know what the specific details are for this upgrade program agreement I’m under so that I might understand the fluctuating costs I’ve been quoted. I cannot believe how ridiculously complicated this has been made by each agent, and I frankly need some feedback as to whether this is standard for other customers or what is going on.
Please see the video of my transcript with Megan. My chats get choppier overall after this one, since she disconnected our chat a few minutes in while I was trying to type a response: https://imgur.com/a/tEwc3vD
After Megan was Rosa, who transferred me to Natalie who advised me they were under maintenance, who transferred me back to Christopher, then on to Palmira and finally...blissfully...Veronica the supposed supervisor. She scheduled my call I’m supposed to get today (as of 4:34 pm today it has yet to arrive). I really don’t think I am being unreasonable in wanting to know the terms of these services and how they’re determining these amounts. See for yourself, I suppose (I included screenshots from the actual site FAQ as well):
HI Amanda! Basically, iPhone Forever/Galaxy Forever work like this. After having your device for 12 months, you can trade it in, and upgrade to the newest generation phone. Occasionally, you will need to pay a "Deposit" on the phone, depending on the memory configuration, device model(plus model vs non-plus), credit history, account payment history, etc.
One of the main reasons for the "Deposit" or Capital Cost Reduction is to keep your monthly device cost to a minimum. When you're looking at a top-end phone like an iPhone XS Max with one of the higher memory confiurations(256gb or 512gb), you're likely going to be required to pay a deposit. the top end phones, simply put are very expensive now. When the iPhone 6s plus 256gb came out, it was an $800 phone. Now your standard iPhone Xr 64gb is priced close to that, and it's considered by many to be an "entry level" phone, when it really isn't.
In my opinion, if you've already got an iPhone X, there isn't a huge performance difference between the iPhone X and the Xs Max other than the screen size.
So I get what you’re saying, but this model of advertising is...hugely unethical. Basically your reasoning dismantles the whole concept of the iPhone Forever and Flex Lease programs, and if your reasoning was clearly stated (or at the very least mentioned in the terms provided), the customer would be forewarned of how dishonest the program is. You’re asking your customers to pay for a phone for 12 months, turn it back in, and then pay almost half the retail cost up front for their advertised upgrade. How is this a deal? What is that customer’s money going towards exactly, if they aren’t allowed to upgrade when the time comes? Further, regardless of price, if you advertise an “upgrade” the XS or XS Max are the only actual “upgrades” from the X. I’m aware there may not be a huge difference between the two devices, spec wise, in which case there shouldn’t logically be a $300 deposit required to make such a minimal upgrade, or so I would presume.