Sprint CEO Admits Sucky Customer Service. Do you agree?

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?

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  1. Jason Rakowski Says:

    Good Layout and design. I like your blog. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. .

    Jason Rakowski

  2. Corey Says:

    In defense of the rep that initially ordered you the phone…you cannot switch someone to the BlackBerry coding of any plan until the BlackBerry device is attached on the account (this goes for all data plans, including Simply Everything). If the online activation system had let you switch your device to the BlackBerry without a plan change your BlackBerry would not register through BlackBerry’s servers and the device would never have fully activated. This is a thorn in Sprint’s side that plagues pretty much all activations that go from 1RX to EV-DO and other varying technologies.

    As you said the reps were both knowledgable and polite, that’s nearly impossible to get reps in a row like that with Sprint. Consider yourself lucky if the whole ordeal between ordering the phone and activating it only took two hours as it could have taken multiple frustrating calls and countless hours otherwise.

  3. matt Says:

    after dealing w/ Sprint for the past 8 yrs finally gave up and ported to Verizon last week.
    haven’t look back since!

  4. Amused ex-customer Says:

    I left Sprint years ago, after many months of being unable to pay my bill on their web site because “some system somewhere” had a mismatched billing address (that system did not live at my bank; both of theirs had it right), and having to call Sprint up to pay them (this being theoretically faster than the whole paper bill / stamp / envelope / USPS thing) — and having them tell me I had to pay $5 to use a live person — to pay my bill.

    That, my friends, is priceless. Who dreams up that kind of nonsense? Sprint, evidently.

  5. Scott Wilson Says:

    I requested to add a 3rd phone for infrequent use. After promises to the contrary I found this phone was costing me $80 per month (new plan/new contract). In addition, over a period of several months, more services were added to the line costing me $15 or so more per month. Many Many calls, hang ups, waiting, inadequate service reps, they refused to reverse the charges fraudulently added to my account.

    After several years with Sprint, I told them I had to cancel, because they could not promise no unauthorizes changes to my account in the future. Then I found out they were trying to get me to pay an early termination fee on the phone they overcharged me for by upwards of $1000 in about a year service. They had promised this would not change my contract when ordering the phone.

    I spent many calls over 3 months in early 2008 to reolve this with Customer Retntion. They promised on 2 ocassions to zero my account and let me go, each call took over an hour to make. Yet, there apparently was no note in the system when the bills started coming and I attempted to escalate to management. I was hung up on and ignored. Then they sent the bill to collections. I cannot in good conscious pay them more money when the reason I had to leave them was because of blithe disregard for law and ethical behavior in the mgmt of my account.

  6. Shane Brannon Says:

    I have only been with Sprint for six months now and I have to say that pretty much everyone I have spoken to within their company is very unhelpful. I recently had a problem with my blackberry curve and getting a proper charge. After I exhausted every troubleshooting item, I finally took it to the local repair facility. Turns out that the pin in the housing of the charger receptacle was popped out of the groove and needed to be repaired. The guys are the repair facility said that that problem fell under the “physical damage” classification. This meant that I have to pay an additional $50.00 to have them fix it. This definition of my particular problem was change from “defect” to “physical damage” on Aug 8, 2008. How they deem a clear defect in the product to be a physical damage caused by me is beyond me. I was also told at the facility that it would take three weeks before I would recieve my phone and they will not give out loaner phones. I refused the repair and called customer service which was a complete waste of time. The agent didnt really seem to even listen to what I was saying, horrible customer service. I am terminating my service today and going to AT&T. The way that Sprint has handled me as a customer is very unsatisfactory to me and for the money I spend on a cell phone bill a month, demands better service.

  7. Ex Customer Says:

    I was with Sprint for 10 years and my contracts (2 phones, 2 lines) was up and was going to ‘re-up’ when the customer rep told me and I quote: since you’re with Sprint now …no deals for existing customers’ . I mentioned I had spent over thousands in 10 years never late or any other issues. ‘Too bad ..no deals for existing customers’ I’m now with T-Mobile and they seem to be doing o.k. with service and customer satisfaction.

    I felt they didn’t care about me anymore as a customer, so I didn’t care to stick to them any longer.

    Enjoy your ex-customers Sprint …. never and I mean never again will I spend a dime with you idiots!

  8. Linda Sheppard Says:

    I also was with Sprint for 10 years and never late on a bill with 2 lines. I wanted to up my plan and customer rep told me it was 10.00 higher a month . I told them it’s cheaper someplace else,they didn’t care. So I went to a different plan and company. Now Sprint says I owe for early termination fee. It was up in 2006. Everytime you call them you get a different answer. They say it is taken care of ,and then I get a bill. Now yesterday in the mail I get a collection agency alert. I just can’t believe this is happening.

  9. amit oberai Says:

    I left sprint in ’07, and can say that was by far the worst company i ever dealt with. Their billing is for lack of a better word fraudulent, and their customer service, were it not totally dishonest I would have called it a joke but its worse. It would take forever to get a customer rep to answer, she/he would say they would do something, would not happen, call back the next rep would say sorry you were misinformed or that the rep was incorrect. I payed an early termination fee to leave and let them know that if ever there was a class action suit against them I would definitely participate.

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