In today’s New York Times, Dan Hesse, CEO of Sprint, stated in regard to Sprint’s customer service problems, “The issues haven’t changed.” This statement came on the heels of the news that the carrier lost 1.09 million customers in the first quarter of 2008. Additionally, Bloomberg is reporting the Sprint may sell off some of its assets to make up for its $505 million net loss. However, it’s worth noting that Sprint also invested $236 million in WiMAX in the first quarter. By comparison, T-Mobile announced last week that, according to a study by J.D. Power and Associates, it ranks highest in wireless retail customer satisfaction in the U.S. With rumors swirling that T-Mobile’s parent company, Deutsche Telekom, is interested in buying Sprint, the marriage would most likely improve Sprint’s customer service. On a personal level, after my adventure last week negotiating for the new customer price on the just-released BlackBerry Curve 8330, my new handset arrived yesterday, a day earlier than expected. I logged into my Sprint account and went through the steps to activate the phone. It failed. Thinking that I possibly missed something, I followed the directions in the included “Get started” manual, which directed me to the Web site or to Sprint Customer Service. It was time for me to deal with a real person. I called customer service and stated my phone number at least three times along with the ESN code to the electronic lady. After this unsuccessful activation attempt, I was transferred to a live person. This person explained that I had been given a non-BlackBerry plan, which was why it wouldn’t activate. Since I signed up for the Simply Everything plan, this worried me. I immediately checked the plan on their site and told her I was confused since the plan clearly states that BlackBerry Internet Service is included. Taking a deep breath, she said, “How do I explain this? The plan is fine, but we have to put in a different code since it’s a BlackBerry.” She fixed it and then asked if I still wanted the new plan to take effect on May 17, 2008, when my next billing cycle started. “No,” I replied, “I have the BlackBerry now and I might as well use it.” She changed the dates, explained what the charges would be on my bill and asked if she could help me with anything else. Overall, it took me more time to get the Curve activated than it took me to negotiate a deal for it because of their customer service personnel. The two employees I spoke with, one last Friday and one yesterday, were both very nice, but clearly the first person didn’t know how to correctly sign up someone buying a BlackBerry for a BlackBerry plan. Thankfully, a quick check of my account shows that the woman I spoke with yesterday signed me up for the proper plan. This is not the only tale of Sprint woe in our office. Kenneth Butler, another one of the few, proud Sprint customers here, recounts his experience:
When I bought my phone back in November, the clerk who helped me at the Sprint store on 42nd St. between 5th and 6th Aves was pretty clueless. I told him I wanted the Centro and he went in the back to grab it for me. When he came back to the front, without saying a word, he tried to ring me up for the whole price of the phone. When I told him I wanted to renew my contract too, he said okay, and clicked in the computer system for a while.
Then he rung me up for the correct price, I paid, and he told me I could leave. I asked him when I could start using it and he said right now. So I tried it out, and, big shocker, it didn’t work. He’d already moved on to a new customer, so I had to wait for him to finish up with her, then I told him that my phone didn’t work.
He said, ‘For real?’ and took it. Then, ‘Oh, did you want the mail-in rebate too?’ The rebate was for $100, and it came automatically with the new contract. Baffled, I just said yes, to which he replied, ‘Oh then, you’ll need to renew your contract.’ I explained to him that I’d said that earlier, and then I said, ‘Plus I just paid $150 for a phone that costs $400. Didn’t you already renew the contract?’ My clerk was mum on explanation. Then he played on the computer some more and told me that now I was all set.
Fortunately, this time the phone worked.”
Now that we’ve told our tales, we want to hear yours. Have you had problems with Sprint’s customer service? What were they? How do they compare to customer service hassles you’ve had with other wireless carriers?