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Refusing to unlock off-contract the iPhone creates an awful customer experience

Journeyman

Refusing to unlock off-contract the iPhone creates an awful customer experience

On Thursday, I called 1-888 customer service to request that my iPhone 4s be unlocked (GSM) because my is up.  What resulted was my worst experience as a customer of any company in nearly a decade. 

A note about me before I share my customer experience.  I have had Sprint for 2 years, have excellent credit, and am currently evaluating staying with Sprint or switching to another carrier.  My request to have my phone unlocked is due to my intent to sell the phone once I decide if I'm staying with Sprint or switching to another carrier.  I have had other phones unlocked by another carrier and the process only took a 5 minute phone call.  Imagine my surprise when I had the following experience.

First Call:  I spoke with a gentleman named Terry.  I asked to have my phone unlocked.  He gave me a 6 digit code but told me he could not give me instructions of how to use the code.  When I had another phone unlocked by Tmobile, they walked me throughout the process on the phone for free and I had not been a customer with them for 1.5 years.  I was surprised by this, but I thought, oh well I'll look it up online.  Upon much internet research, I learned that an iPhone 4s cannot be unlocked with a 6 digit code. 

Apple's unlock process can be found here: iPhone: About unlocking

**Note: apple's website states that Sprint offers unlocking

Second Call: I spoke with a lady named Lane.  I explained about my conversation with Terry earlier and that I wanted my phone unlocked.  She explained that procedure was fulfilled but he international department.  I confirmed that I was asking for an unlock for domestic use.  She explained that she believed that the international department offered domestic unlock.  She provided me the number and I called.

Third Call:  I spoke with Wilma in International.  I explained everything to her and she advised me that since I had made multiple calls that day, she was going to "engage" her supervisor to ensure that my issue was resolved with this call.  That sounded reassuring so I agreed.  She then informed me she could provide me with the "MSL" code and I could take my phone to any carrier I like and they will activate my phone on their network with the code.  But she could only supply that code once I paid my balance.  I protested because my balance is not due until next month and my account is current.  There are no past due amounts, and have never been any past due amounts.  She asked to put me hold. 

When the call resumed, I was no longer taking to Wima but a "supervisor" named Tara.  I was not informed that a supervisor was taking over my call.  Tara reaffirmed the policy.  I offered the same protest and also explained that I didn't know what an "MSL" code was, that term had not been explained, and that according to apple's website detailing the unlock procedure the information I was being provided was incorrect.  Tara told me that she had performed thousands of unlocks and that she (with attitude and emphasis) knew what she was doing.  I inferred that she was implying that I did not.  I continued to try to politely express that I had researched this and had found information on the apple website contradictory to the information she was providing me.  Tara was unprofessional in her attitude and in the nature of which she shared Sprint's policy, also the information she was supplying me was inaccurate.  It was at this time I asked to speak with Tara's supervisor.  I was placed on hold for well over 10 minutes.  Tara came back on and thanked me for holding and informed me that her supervisor would be on the call shortly.  I thanked her. 

Baria then joined the call.  Baria and I had a very similar conversation to the one I had with Wilma and Tara.  I tried to get her to go to the apple website so that she could review the information I was trying to share with her.  She stated that process was only for international unlock.  I confirmed per the website that it is not restricted to international.  She stated that I could review all of the information on the Sprint website.  I asked for her assistance in finding the information not sprint.com and she disconnected our call.  Yes, Sprint customerservice supervisor who told me her name was Baria (spelling unknown) hung up on me, a "valued" customer of 2 years.  I am sharing this experience with you, both Sprint and fellow customers only after cooling off for two days. 

I'd like to make it clear to everyone that I remained polite throughout all three of my calls, even when Tara was unprofessional in tone, attitude, and statement.  I worked in a call center in college, and know very well what it is like.  I never take my frustrations on an employee for a policy that was created by the company.  I always remain polite and calm but firm in stating my disappointment in the policy.

To Sprint Nextel.  Your choice to not unlock the iPhone for customers who are not under contract is a bad faith business practice.  I'm honestly surprised that it is not illegal.  Customer Service Representatives are poorly trained and consequently incompetent.  It is impossible for your customer service to provide a good customer service experience because no one, in my experience, has accurate information. 

I am researching how to lodge a complaint with the FCC regarding this issue, and I also plan to contact my congressman to ask for his help in this matter from a legislative platform.  Sprint is no longer a carrier that I am considering for my future cellular needs. 

Your "valued" customer

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25 REPLIES 25
Journeyman

Re: Refusing to unlock off-contract the iPhone creates an awful customer experience

I'm surprised and disappointed no one from Sprint Customer Care has responded to this to apologize about my poor customer experience from Thursday.  I repeatedly was given inaccurate information, and a "supervisor" hung up on me.

Master

Re: Refusing to unlock off-contract the iPhone creates an awful customer experience







I'm here for you, I apologize for how things went if you'd like I can certainly submit feed back about who you spoke with and what happened.

-John
Sprint Social Care




Journeyman

Re: Refusing to unlock off-contract the iPhone creates an awful customer experience

Thanks John, I would like for you to provide feedback about my call experience.  My purpose for posting wasn't to rant, it was to provide feedback to Sprint regarding how its decision to not unlock the iPhone affects the customer.  And its lack of adequately educating its customer service arm adds a lot of fuel to the fire. 

I work in a field that is customer experience based.  I thought I would help by providing my perspective and thoughts.

Here is the feedback I would like you to provide:

  • I made three calls in one day regarding the same issue and spoke with five different representatives.  Two of which were supervisors.  4 out of the 5 provided me with inaccurate information regarding the unlock process for an iPhone.  The other one admitted she didn't know and referred me to another department.  One of them implied I didn't know what I was talking about.  This is clearly an issue with how the agents have been trained.  If I had to guess, I would guess the agents were given inaccurate or incomplete information in training.  I understand that the iPhone may be unique in that it has both CDMA and GSM Technologies and the vast majority of devices are CDMA only.  However, I don't think that is excusable considering the iPhone is the most popular phone on the planet.  I think it warrants special training.  If the first agent I spoke to had been well trained, I would have been on the call for 5 minutes.  Sure, I would not have liked the policy and I would have been upset at the policy choice of Sprint, but spending a lot more time on the phone and provided inaccurate information was far worse.  I wasted a lot time because of that. 
  • Baria (spelling unkown) should not have disconnected the call.  I'm sure it was an act of frustration because I was not accepting the information she was giving me which was the same information the two people before her gave me.  I'd like to point out that I remained patient with them, calm, and the tone of my voice didn't change.  I did not provoke being disconnected other than stating I didn't believe the information I was being provided was accurate and asking them to view the information on the Apple website that I was viewing. 
  • Neither of the Supervisors made me feel that they were interested in listening to me or trying to solve my problem.  It felt like they were only interested in reading what I assume to be the information right off the script they thought they were supposed to be reading from and get me off the phone. 
  • All that said, if the agents had been provided the information they needed to accurately address my question, all of that other stuff wouldn't have happened. 
  • On a final note, I think it was a very poor strategy and decision by Sprint to not offer GSM unlock.  I know that they have now agreed to do that and have 3 months to comply, but that is only after pressure from the Obama administration.  To the customer, it feels like I've been defrauded.  That's not a good feeling for a customer to have about a company that is providing a service.

Honestly John, I hope this helps.   I recently read that Sprint isn't doing well in customer satisfaction surveys.   This has got to be better than an automated survey asking if I was provided excellent customer service.   What is the system in place for sharing this feedback with the ones who are in a position to desire this type of feedback.  I know someone wants it. 

John, Have a Merry Christmas.

Journeyman

Re: Refusing to unlock off-contract the iPhone creates an awful customer experience

You guys must change the customer-unfriendly policy. I am a former sprint customer and left as Sprint did not unlock my iPhone 4S.

Since I left sprint on Sep, I purchased iPhone 5S, iPad mini 2 with Cellular no sprint of course. I will avoid Sprint at all cost in the future purchase also. as the device shall be locked by Sprint forever.

T-Mobile, AT&T implemented the reasonable unlock policy.(they unlock on full payment) For iPad, Verizon accepts the iPad intended for other carrier.(while sprint not) the sprint only maintains the most customer-unfriendly policy. I(an tech opinion leader in my social group) always tell/persuade my friends to avoid sprint-contracted phone or sprint-iPad. I bet it is not only me who tells his/her friends to avoid Sprint due to the customer-unfriendly policy. you guys are really ugly. a business against the customers will fail. simple as it is.

Journeyman

Re: Refusing to unlock off-contract the iPhone creates an awful customer experience

Joshua0987654,


Your episode sounds very similar to mine, except that I spoke with at least 10 different folks and spent almost the entire day trying to get resolution to my issue. I'm spreading the word far and wide about Sprint in hopes that I can help someone else avoid the frustration and wasted time I experienced in dealing with Sprint "customer service", a term which I am using very loosely, by the way. It is quite easy to file a complaint with the FCC, (There was a link posted here, but I removed it in hopes it will placate the moderators. It seems mention of FCC and links to their complaints page get them upset, but nobody has the cajones to tell me directly what they don't like. They just delete my posts.)  Ultimately that is what I did and I strongly suggest you do the same.


Cheers

Journeyman

Re: Refusing to unlock off-contract the iPhone creates an awful customer experience

John,

Are there any updates to relay from the feedback I offered?  How was my feedback handled?

Thanks.

Master

Re: Refusing to unlock off-contract the iPhone creates an awful customer experience

Joshua0987654

it has been some time since your last post. I wanted to find out if we were able to provide you with feedback to your inquiry. Please let us know if you are still in need of assistance.

Omar

Sprint Social Care

Journeyman

Re: Refusing to unlock off-contract the iPhone creates an awful customer experience

Today 7/5/14 I called sprint to unlock my phone and they said no even though I fulfilled my contract. I told them about the new fcc law that states if a customer had service for one year or longer by law u have to unlock the phone and I was told that sprints toc (terms of conditions) trumps federal law. We need to stand up together cuz power in numbers and the government is already mad at Pl them so if enough ppl stand up and fight they will realize that ppl r tired of there unfair practices and that's y were leaving for other carriers.

Journeyman

Re: Refusing to unlock off-contract the iPhone creates an awful customer experience

I would like my iPhone 4s unlocked I sent over a hour talking to this person and that person from sprint just to hear excuses after excuses. I just want the phone that I paid for to be mine and take to tmobile. The reason I left sprint is poor customer service at the store level to corporate level

Wizard

Re: Refusing to unlock off-contract the iPhone creates an awful customer experience

If maybe you could look at one of the many threads that clearly state sprint will NOT unlock any phone for domestic use on another carrier at this time. The law you speak of doesn't affect any phones until manufactured and sold after January of 2015.

Journeyman

Re: Refusing to unlock off-contract the iPhone creates an awful customer experience

Until sprint gets their act right tmobile will bleed there customers ppl pay lots of money to have sprints rude poor customer service. once yalls realize we pay ur bills were ur boss because without us u won't have a job. We have options sprint isn't the only phone company

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