Date:    11-Dec-2003

From:   Martin Wollner

            Sprint number: 248-910-4783              Home number: 734-427-7589

            Temporary Internet: mwollner@comcast.net

 

Sprint Story

 

Three weeks ago I was about to leave for 2 months on a long road trip, and needed to stay in contact by phone, e-mail, and computer access on the trip. I’m the last guy I know to not have a cell phone. I waited until now to get something with e-mail and Internet access capabilities. Finally, the Handspring Trio-600 came out with full JAVA capability, so I went to the Sprint store in Dearborn to get one on Wed., 18-Nov-2003. The salesman, Mark S., told me they were out of stock, but he would have them in on Fri., 21-Nov-2003.

 

I went back to the store on Friday, but Mark said the stock didn’t come in yet. I also wanted to port a land-based phone number to it, so Mark suggested waiting until Mon., 24-Nov-2003 when I could port the number, and get the new unit, and have it programmed all at the same time. Mark assured me everything would be working when I left the store on Monday.

 

So, I delayed my trip departure and was at the store early Monday morning. Mark said the stock still didn’t come in, but I could buy the older Hitachi G-1000 instead for the same price.

 

STRIKE ONE!!!

 

OK, I bought the darn thing reluctantly, and after I paid for it, Mark said the Sprint computer came back with a schedule port date of 29-Nov-2003. I told him that was not acceptable, that I needed a cell phone and laptop access during my road trip. Mark said the port would occur within 90 minutes. I left the store and although I was on my way out of town, I waited around to see if it would start working.

 

Thus began my great wait for the port to occur, and my introduction to Sprint’s horrible customer service facilities. I spent the rest of the day on the phone and on the computer asking why it didn’t port yet. One of my calls, which lasted well over an hour, resulted in someone at the “porting center” keep telling me over and over to try www.sprintpcs.com, and I kept telling her I was looking right at it on my home computer, and this repeated more than 6 times, when I finally hung up the phone. At the end of the day, when I should have already been well out on the road, I went back to the Dearborn Sprint store, where Mark said he was too busy to talk to me, but walked me over to the next room and gave me a red phone, where I spent the next 45 minutes getting the exact same result I had been getting all day; “your number will port on 29-Nov-2003”.

 

I went back to ask Mark for a temporary number, and he assured me one more time that it will happen within the next 24 hours. So, after spending another 90 minutes at the Sprint store, I left town without a working cell phone or a way to use my laptop, which I had prepared at great effort and cost for the trip.

 

For the next two weeks I kept trying to use the phone and kept getting an error message. I tried to call Sprint at least once a day. I have always had to wait at least 10 minutes for anyone at Sprint to answer, but I estimate the average wait time of my calls to Sprint were about 35 minutes. This is because Sprint’s customer service has to answer your call (at least 10 minutes), and then re-direct you to the porting center where you can spend an additional 20 minutes waiting for an answer. At least 10 times I was sent to a busy signal when the re-direction occurred.

 

I was given at least 5 “please wait another 24 hours” responses. I was given complete run-arounds when I asked for a temporary number while waiting for the port. I called my provided at least 5 times and they kept telling me there was no work order when at the same time Sprint told me there was a work order pending at my provider.

 

STRIKE TWO!!!

 

On Mon., 8-Dec-2003, I decided I had waited long enough for the number to port, and finally got someone at Sprint to work with me and cancel the porting request and give me a temporary number. This was a 110-minute set of phone calls, but I finally now had a working cell phone. They also told me to wait 4 more hours for the Internet access to start working. After 10 hours I still had no Internet access. The next call to Sprint customer service took another 90 minutes, where I was told that Sprint was having some problems with the Internet, and I should wait another 24 hours.

 

48 hours later I still have no Internet access.

 

STRIKE THREE!!!

 

I want to cancel all my contracts with Sprint, and I want a full refund of everything I have paid for. I am returning this Hitachi G-1000, and I want a full refund for it, including the 6% state tax I paid for it. I will never use Sprint again, and if Sprint gives me any problems with any refunds or cancellations, I will broadcast this message to everyone I know and post it on every message board I can find.

 

I should charge Sprint for wasting at least 100 hours of my time, for making me drive to the Dearborn store 3 extra times, and should sue them for lying to me on many occasions, causing a delay in my trip departure. I had to setup an expensive alternate e-mail source (mwollner@comcst.net), and had to spend countless hours on pay phones to access my messages and e-mail during these weeks of frustration. Thanks for nothing, Sprint.

 

 

Final Insults

 

 

On 11-Dec-2003 I went to the Sprint Store in Albuquerque with the above letter in hand, to return the unit and cancel my contracts. The guy told me they weren’t supposed to accept returns after 14 days. I told him it never worked and still didn’t work after 18 days. After hesitating, he then closely examined the contents, and found that I was missing a headphone adapter. He then declared that I couldn’t return it because it was “Missing hardware”. I asked him what was the replacement cost of the adapter (something worth about $5), and he told me it was not available from Sprint, even though the box had “Sprint” all over it. He suggested I contact Hitachi to get the part, but added it would certainly be beyond the 14-day period. He handed me back the phone and asked, “Is there anything else I can help you with”?

 

I left the phone there, in spite of him telling me I was not going to leave it. I told him I would look for the part at home, but didn’t want the phone back in any case.

 

That night I got home and it occurred to me that I had purchased an insurance policy in case the unit is lost, stolen, or damaged. I also found that on the business card he gave me, his manager actually had an e-mail address on it. Previous to this I was unable to send e-mail to anyone at Sprint, because it is not available anywhere in the help sections of Sprint’s web sites. I only found Web pages with submit boxes allowing a short problem description, which I did use five times, none of which ever got any response.

 

So I sent this to Susan Ortega, the Sprint store manager the evening of 11-Dec-2003:

 

Susan

 

I was in your store today to return a Sprint phone I had purchased in Dearborn, Michigan on 24-Nov-2003. The reasons are documented below, but the bottom line is, as of today, the phone STILL DOES NOT WORK! I spoke with Matt Galfano, but he refused to accept the unit because I was missing the audio headphone adapter. I left the phone there anyway, and told Matt I would look for the adapter at home. I still can't find the adapter. Everything else was returned intact.

 

If there are any problems with this, then I would like to exercise my lost phone insurance, and pay the fee (I believe it is about $38), and thus get the part replaced. In any case, please cancel my account, effective immediately.

 

However, I think you should just cancel everything as is, and fully refund everything because of the grief I was put through. Please see the attachment, which documents my experience with Sprint. Please respond by replying to this e-mail. I will be in Albuquerque for another week, and then gone for a week, then I will return until 03-Jan-2004.

 

She responded the next day with the following:

 

Mr. Wollner,

 

 I want to first apologize for all the problems you have been having. Our retail locations are not set up to cancel accounts, you do have to contact customer service to cancel your account. There is a 14 day window that all customers have to cancel their service without any penalties, if the cancellation is requested beyond the 14 days then a cancellation fee of $150.00 is applied to the account. I can note your account with all the issues you have had to see if that will help in disputing the fee? As far as the return of equipment is concerned you must return the equipment to the original point of purchase or we can help you find the nearest location that is equipped to handle your request. All returns must be complete and undamaged accompanied by the original sales receipt. and must be returned within 14 days of purchase for refund. We would be happy to ship your phone to a retail location that is willing to refund your purchase price or to you directly. Please let me know where you would like the handset shipped and what areas you are traveling to so that we can help you find a retail location that can refund your purchase price.

 

Thank you for your feedback,

Susan Ortega
Retail Sales Manager
6271 Riverside Plaza Ln. Ste. B
Albuquerque, NM 87120
(505) 922-2100 Office
(505) 463-9300 PCS
(505) 922-2101 Fax

 

 

I immediately responded with the following:

 

 

Ms Ortega

 

Your response, although kindly worded, shows the reason I think Sprint has extremely poor customer service. I got the same kind of run-around when I sat there waiting on hold trying to get the phone to work for the past 18 days. Everybody at Sprint only does a certain job, and it is left to the customer to figure out whom to call for what. Nobody at Sprint wants to actually help a customer get something accomplished. And while waiting, I heard slogans saying, "Did you know that Sprint offers the same service coast-to-coast?”

 

How can you recite 14-day polices for the service contract and hardware return, when you know that the phone had never worked over the 18 days I had it? Why was Matt willing to take the unit back, except for the missing piece, but you say I must return it to the original point of purchase? Why can't you, a Sprint store manager, just cancel my account and make sure I get refunds for everything? I am sorry for dropping this in your lap, but you are the highest-ranking person I can find at Sprint. I have gotten no responses from the Sprint web site after submitting 5 different complaints, nor after over 60 hours of telephone support.

 

You will find Included in the box, my sales slip, which shows the original Sprint store I bought it from. Feel free to ship it there, or whatever. I am not going to cancel my service contract. I want you to do that. If you have any problems with this, I suggest you escalate this entire situation to a higher up manager at Sprint corporate, and include the original letter of complaint and this set of e-mails.

 

This is the last memo I will waste my time on dealing with Sprint. I certainly hope my account is "noted", or whatever it takes to get full refunds for everything. When I get back to Michigan near the end of January, I expect everything will be refunded to my credit card, without any fees or penalties (other than what I mentioned about replacing that adapter), or I will take legal action against Sprint.

 

 

On Fri., 12-Dec-2003 I sent Sprint an e-mail containing a link to my web site, where the above document was posted. I got a response the next day asked me to re-submit my request in a different part of their web site. In did so, and then I got the following response on Sun., 14-Dec-2003:

 

Dear Martin,

This is in response to your concern about your account.

Upon review of your account, please know that there are notes regarding
the request for cancellation of your services.

However, if you still wish to cancel your services please contact us at
(888) 211-4727.  Please note that currently you are on a two-year PCS
Advantage Agreement which satisfies on December 08, 2005.  To avoid an
early termination fee of $150.00 we request you to maintain your
services till the satisfaction date.

We value you as a customer and would be very disappointed to lose your
business.

 

 

What will happen next??