Re: The Pain! The Agony! Sprint Sucks!
by Ted B. - Posted Mon September 18, 2006 @ 3:48 PM
My Sprint Horror Story - aka the $767 bill.
I'm not sure where to begin..
Let me start by saying that I have been a sprint PCS customer since summer of 1998. (My Bad - I should have left them LONG AGO.) I have weathered and negotiated through EVERY kind of problem you could imagine with sprint, epsecially in the first 3 years.
Then sprint started to ge ta lot better - the billing problems stopped, the signal improved, the number of dropped calls wentto virtually zero - and I started receiving discounts for being a 'loyal customer'. By the end I was getting 1100 anytime mins plus unlimited nights & weekends for about $55 - and my trusty motorola timeport phone (circa 1999, last of the startac series) still served me well with the ORIGINAL BATTERIES. indestructible phone.
As time went on I got a land line with unlimited calling for a low flat fee - so I started using my cel phone a LOT less - but I kept the 1100 minute plan becuase it was so reasonable.
I ended up movong cross country from San Francisco to Florida - made 2 driving trips across - in august & september. I used my sprint cel phopne a lot. I knew I was going to use my cel phone a lot. I also knew how sprint could be - so on the first trip, I check my minutes carefully, making the bulk of my calls after 9PM depending on the time zone I was in, and calling the sprint *2 operatot when I could to check my minutes usage. In August, as I reached the end of my billing cycle, I was about to exceed my minutes - so sprint offerd me the opportunity to buy a bundle of extra minutes for $5/100mins. GREAT! I said - so I bought some more minutes - my bill was a little higher than normal but still very reasonable, everyone was happy.
For the 2nd trip, I already had a good idea about how many extra minutes I might need so I bought IN ADVANCE 500 extra minutes - bringing my plan to 1600 minutes. During my 2nd trip, drivingin a moving truck, no access to the internet, the ONLY way I had to check my minutes usage was to call the sprint operator. on 9-2-06 I did just that. operator said - I'd only used 1200 mins, had 400 left, 10 days till my billing cycle ended - fine = oerfect - no problem - p[lenty of minutes - if calculated that if I kept using minutes at about the same rate I should just about make it.
Just to be SURE, I called in again on the 12th to double check - I figured at MOST I'd be over 100 mins - but because sprint changes their billing cycle date by a day or 2 each month (somrthing they deny) I had already missed the billing ending cycle - this month it had ended on the 11th (not the 12th like the operator said). When this happens, sprint's 3rd world computer system is unable to check their OWN billing records for 2 or 3 days - so I had to wait for my printed bill to become available in the mail or online. I had a bad feeling so instead of waiting I found a still OPEN sprint store in florida (many seem to have closed in this area since the nextel merger) and had them print out the bill - I WAS 1600 MINUTES OVER - THE BILL WAS $767.39!
Looking at the bill, I see where sprint started billing me on 9-1-06 for overages as I had already exceeded my max 1600 minutes! THEY WERE WRONG BY 400 MINTES WAY BACK ON 9-2-06!!!!! THATS MORE MINUTES OFF THAN MOST PEOPLES ENTIRE PLAN!
I also noticed somthing funny about the blocks of dialed out calls on the bill - it seems that as I passed time zones, the calls started an hour earlier. My free minutes start at 9PM so I was careful to make the bulk of my calls after 9PM. as the dates when on, the bulk of my calls started at 8PM, then 7PM then 6PM as I crossed times zones. I had earlier asked sprint operators how that worked and they said that billing for that worked off the the phones clock and the satellite so there was NO CHANCE that could be wrong and that it was 100% accurate (yeah, accurate like the MINUTES USAGE figure they gave me on 9-2-06?)
It was then 7:30PM - I called the sprint customer service from the store (because of course the store employees "dont handle billing issues" and was still srguing with them about this when the store closed (at 8PM) then they finally closed the store at 9:10PM and I had to leave - I was STILL on the phone with them until about 10:30PM (the whole drive home, in the house, etc) mind you - the date is 9-14-06 - my birthday - my whole day ruined from this eposide..
but it gets BETTER.
I had spoken to severla operatorsand supervisores - some who would give me their ID#, some not - the most any of them would seem top pffer me was $200 off my bill (that would still be a bill in excess of $500!)
I explained (several times) that was not acceptable - I said that I was not trying to get something for nothing and was willing to pay for the extra minutes I used in the form of prepaid bundled minutes like the ones I purchased earlier in the month or for the previous month. I told them that if I had been given reasonably accurate information at the time I could have curtailed my use of the phone, not used as many minutes, bought extra minutes etc - and when I bought extra minutes I tend to be conservative and buy more than I need. I calculated at $5/100 minutes that it would cost an extra $80 to buy enough minutes to cover my overage. I said that I would by 2000 minutes - that's an additional $100. so my bill would be for my normal charges ($55) plus the 500 extra mins I bought earlier in the month ($20) plus 2000mins ($100) - for a totoal of $175 plus all related taxes & fees.
Sprint said NO to my offer - repeatedly - all they could see was the 1600 overage minutes and had dollar signs in their eyes. They just COULDN'T see past that to see how their mistake not only affected my knowing how many actual minutes I had used, but that it also impacted the RATE at which I perceived I was using minutes- I had no idea how fast I was burning them up.
I remind you again that I have been a customer since 1998, nevr oncewas late on a bill and never went over my minutes before.
So anyway, around 10:30PM, this supervisor at sprint (who I only know as a jumble of lettrs: AGRIFF) offered my a one-time only 'deal' - a courtesy discount he called it - for $321 (it might have been 327) but it was a one-time only verbal offer, take it or leave it... (some way to run an FCC regulated public utility - monty hal, lets make a deal - lets play with MY BILL of HUNDREDS of dollars like it was MONO[OLY MONEY). I was angry that was the best he would offer to fix THEIR mistake - and told him that no matter what I was leaving sprint and paying the early termination fee of $150 - so lets get this resolved properly so we can both move on - THEN (this is good) he said - Oh - well - you can't leave if I offer you this discount - whats the incentive of me offering you this courtesy discount if you're just going to leave - I'm flaging this account and now we're watching it - if you try to terminate and leave we will bill you back the $321 to your account. (I assume he meant to my credit card, which is linked to the sprint website which was how I recently started to pay my sprint bill).
Now I had been threatened and I honestly wasnt sure if what he said was legal or not - so I asked him if he wouldnt mind emailing that offer to me as I didnt think it was legal- he declined and said it was a one-timeonly verbaloffer only - I said fine - then let me just get a tape recorder and hold it up the phone - would you mind just repeating what you just said? CLICK (he hung up)
Next call with cusomter service I asked how I could obtain transcripts or recordings of my cusotmer service calls - conveniently all the calls I wanted apparently were not likely to be recoreded accoridning to sprint - and the next 2 operators said that the threat the previous supervisor made about billing back the charges couldnt be done. And said something like I had 2 months before sprint would turn it over to collections (not the 2 weeks to pay the bill in full an earlier operator told me).
The last cusotmer service call I made ended up at the 'customer retention' department where I spoke with some lady named VERT who gave me to her supervisor named CATHY at 5:52 pm on 9-15-06. After reciting my story for what felt like the 30th time in 2 days, CATHY made the same offer as AGRIFF the previous night - sprint will credit me only $321 and if I try to pay the early termination charges and leave they will bill me back the $321.
at that point I snapped - I said FINE FORGET IT - I'LL JUST TAKE THE LOUSY $200 CREDIT AND I'LL PAY THE EALRY TERMINATION FEE OF $150 AND CLSOE MY ACCOUNT - NOW!!!!! I then threw the phone down on the concrete floor, jumped up & down on it, crushed it and threw the remaining pieces around till they were unrecognizable junk. I screamed, yelled and cursed and cried.
I called customer service back in 5 minutes when I regained my composure to see about making a payment arrangement (the final bill was $737.39 after ET fee) but as my account was closed, they would not offer payment arrangements of any kind - the bill had to be paid by my billing end date (THIS month it's due by Oct 9 - but of course, the billing dates NEVER change at sprint - THATS just my IMAGINATON). I also asked about porting my number to another provider - they said impossibe as the account has to be active to do that. UNBELIEVABLE.
So I steal $737.39 from the money I was saving to make a downpayment on a modest house here in central florida (thats why I left SF CA), went to the same sprint office in orlando, and paid the bill in full in cash. As I am getting close to hopefully buying my first home at 42 years old, I wasnt going to let a bunch of clowns like sprint mess with my credit rating which took me 8 years to rebuild.
I went into the store at 7:30PM 9-15-06, friday night - store crowded with people all waiting - said in a LOUD booming voice I HAVE TO PAY A $737 BILL HERE TO PAY FOR SPRINTS ERROR - WHO DO I SPEAK TO HERE?! - I never got rushed through a line at a store so fast in my life. A sprint cahsier named YVONNE M. took me BY THE HAND and led me directly to a register where I started to count out IN A LOUD VOICE FOR ALL TO HEARD - ALL 737 DOLLARS - $20 bill by $20 bill - the store fell S I L E N T - you really COULD hear a pin drop - IN THE MIDDLE OF COUNTING I SAID - WATCH CLOSELY PEOPLE - THIS COULD HAPPEN TO YOU - IVE BEEN A CUSTOMER SINCE 1998 BUT I'M LEAVING OVER THIS ONE MONTH BILL - I CANT AFFORD TO LET THESE POEPLE MESS WITH MY CREDIT SCORE - everyone watched in stunned horror as I turned over $737 to these criminals. several people left on the spot. others just nodded grimly as if they knew exactly what I was gong through.
I went across the street and bought a t-mobile phone. I'm not sure that they are much better - time will tell, but at least I can use the phone to digitally look attheir network biling in real time and see how many actual minutes I have REALLY USED.
Their employees also dont hide their names - first or last.
Today is Monday 9-18-06 - I called the California PUC and explained my situation. They put me in contact with sprint 'executive level' customer resolution speacialist AMANDA QUISENBERRY (does that sound like something you would expect the Dept of Public Utilities to do? ???) She listened to me and assigned me a case #. She gave me a # I could reach her at. I called bck in a few hours. She said that she was JUST going to call me - she had discussed the situation with her 'teamates' they decided that they would refund me $160 - basically my early termination fee.
So I told here that was not an acceptable solution and asked her how I could get transcripts of my conversationswith sprint. Se said I'd have have them subpeonaed. I said fine - whats the address - she said my attorney could get that. I said fine - PRETEND I am an attorney - whats the address?
She declined to answer and said If you're an attorney you will haveto go CA attorney general' office.
Okay - then that's what I'll do I said..
I also submitted a case review request to Judge Judy at CBS - I Know that its probably not possible for a corporation to appear in small claims with judge judy - but I just HAVE to give that a shot. Win lose or draw - if I can draw national attention to how sprint does business on national TV - wouldnt that be worth it?
I am honestly not sure what my next move is.
I dont have a lot of faith in the California PUC process but I am going to try that as well.
In the meantime, I understand that metro-pcs is looking for people who have an interest in a franchise in Orlando. Metro PCS is currently the only cell phone provider to have a business model that works by offering cell service at a flat rate of about $40 -$50 month with no minutes - at all - just a flat rate. They currently are not yet in all major markets - but I'd like to do my part.
Consider me - um - driven.
New resident of Florida
Former sprint pcs customer