Cancel Sprint Account By Writing Intelligent Well-Crafted Emails to the CEO

Reader Jason contacted us to share tips on how one can successfully resolve customer service issues by writing intelligent well-crafted emails to Gary Forsee, the CEO of Sprint. And, indeed, Jason’s emails are a cut above the usual seething buckets of bile that come squirting into our inbox.

You see, Jason didn’t just complain, he analyzed the weaknesses of Sprint’s business. He wrote to a CEO in a manner that a CEO would understand. As a result, Sprint canceled his account (at his request), zeroed his balance, and all was well. Not a year early or anything, but it’s something, and it saved him some money. Good job, Jason! —MEGHANN MARCO

Read Jason’s emails inside.

First, Jason wrote:

    20-Apr-2006 00:02:05,
    Ladies and Gentlemen,
    The purpose of this letter is to explain my recent experiences with Sprint. I feel that by conveying this information to you all, I can help Sprint become a better company in regards to customer service. First off, please let me introduce myself. My name is Jason XXXXX, and I have been a Sprint customer for 4 years.
    In the time that I’ve been a customer, I’ve had to call various departments within Sprint, well over 100 (one hundred) times – with the bulk of them being to customer care – in order to resolve many, many different issues. In many of the cases, one of several things would happen when I called.

    1)I would explain my problem to the first level representative, and after some time discussing the issue, I would be transferred to a second level supervisor.

    2) During the aforementioned transfer to the supervisor, the call would be disconnected, or incorrectly routed, and I would end up back at a first level representative.

    3) The representative would purposely disconnect the call.

    4) The representative would refuse to transfer my call to a supervisor.

    5) The call would get correctly transferred to the supervisor, who, often after an hour (There was at least one instance, where it took nearly three hours), would eventually find and fix the problem.

    Sadly, it almost always resorts to #5 before the issue is resolved. There have been very few cases where a first level representative has managed to a) fix the problem, and b) not incorrectly enter information (such as the mailing address I had updated last night…which I had to do again today – but I digress).
    Let us elaborate on the 5 previously mentioned call flows. The most common scenario involves #1, #3, #1, #2, #1, then finally #5, or some combination thereof – that is 3 calls, with a usual minimum of 15 minutes for each of the first two calls, and at least 30 minutes for the final call, which adds up to at least one hour per issue, half of which is to a level 2 supervisor.

    I’d like to break these figures down for you. Assuming that a first level representative earns $10/hour (which is perhaps a little high, until you include benefits, etc) and that a supervisor earns $20/hour, we can estimate that each issue will cost Sprint a minimum of $15 in salary costs. I have at least one issue every two months that results in the above scenario. If even a small percentage of other customers have the same experiences that I do, it doesn’t take a business major to realize that this doesn’t make financial sense. On top of, and due to that, I’ve been highly considering canceling my account once the contract period expires. I’d also like to explain my most recent issue. Last night, at about 8:00pm, I attempted to pay my bill online at sprint.com, as I do every other month. There were technical difficulties with the website, so I called customer care to pay the bill instead.

    Since the difficulties were technical in nature, the representative was nice enough to waive the normal fee that is charged when customers pay their bill with that method. I also asked the representative to change the mailing address on my account (which I had changed several months ago), and after several questions like “How do you spell ‘South’?”, he assured me that the change was made successfully. This afternoon, I received a call from Sprint, to tell me that I was close to my spending limit (of $300), and that if I did not pay my bill immediately, I risked being shut off. There are two problems with this.

    1) My bill as of yesterday, was only $83.07, and even if another bill of ~$83 were to post, that would only put me at just over half the $300 spending limit.

    2) When I pressed “6″ to speak to a representative, I was assured that my current balance was, in fact, $0, and that I should also speak to customer care to verify that. After much effort (see #2 and #4 above), I was finally informed that the call was made in error, and that I should simply disregard it.

    When prompted, the supervisor also informed me that my address had not, in fact, been changed.

    In short, there are a few places where Sprint may have some room for improvement.

    I would appreciate a call at your earliest convenience, so that we may discuss this more fully. I can be reached by telephone at XXXXXXXX.

    Thank you for your time,
    Jason

Gary Forsee, CEO Wrote:

    I apologize for any inconvenience you may have encountered and thank you
    for contacting me. I’ve asked a member of my team to get in touch with
    you to resolve your issue. We appreciate the chance to earn and keep
    your business.

    Sincerely,
    Gary Forsee
    Chairman and CEO

Jason got a credit. On the the next email:

    Mr. Forsee,

    You may recall my emailing you in the past, detailing the experiences I have had in my nearly 4 years as a Sprint customer. At this time, I would like to bring new issues to your attention. Ignore me again if you choose, but I would like to state that this has now lost you a long time customer.

    I must note however, that if you ignore me (I would like to see a personalized reply email or phone call from you), I will be detailing the same information I have provided to you in the past, and currently, to be publicly available on my weblog – which has a very high concentration of Internet traffic from the telephony community (ie; cellular phone makers, PBX companies, other cellular phone company executives, Sprint shareholders, etc).
    So, now the issues. I called in today, to find out the exact dates my contract expired, and I was told that even though my lines were both activated at the same time, that one expired one month after the other. Obviously, this is an issue.

    Now let me detail each of the SIX calls I made this afternoon.

    1) I called in, navigated through the automated system, and before being connected to a representative, I was disconnected.

    2)I called in, navigated through the automated system, and was transferred to a representative who while looking up the account, complained to me about how bad her day has been going so far! She eventually transferred me to another department, and the representative was looking into the issue, and asked to put my on hold. While putting me on hold, we were disconnected.

    3) I called in, navigated through the automated system, asked to speak to a supervisor, and after several minutes of explaining why I needed to, and how I had been hung up on twice previously, I was transferred to an Audix voicemail box, where I left a message, and was then disconnected from the system.

    4) I called in, navigated through the automated system, asked to speak to a supervisor, and was hung up on during the transfer.

    5) I called in, navigated through the automated system, asked to speak to a supervisor, and at this point, I was very upset, and refused to give her my account information. She said that since I could/would not provide that information, that the supervisor would not talk to me.

    I’d like to comment on this one a little.. Have you ever had to call through the aforementioned automated system? When you call *2 from your mobile phone, you are greeted by “Claire” which is the automated response feature. Before you are transferred to a representative, she prompts you for the last 4 digits of your Social Security number, and validates it. You may recall that in my previous email to you, I mentioned that I had a few ideas to stop pissing off customers – this is one of them. “Claire” is horrible, and so is the queue system your representatives use.

    6) I called in, navigated through the automated system, and finally talked to a representative who had enough brains to go back to August of 2004, and see why the contract was renewed on the account. She said that Sprint would honor the original contract expiration date of August 29th 2006 instead of September 21st 2006, and that she would put in a high priority note stating this fact. I asked if she could mail me something that states this, and she said she could not. I asked to speak with a supervisor, and I asked the supervisor the same question. She explained to me that the note could not be deleted from the system, and I attempted to explain to her that I have been a customer for 4 years and that I know sometimes (THAT, is an understatement) representatives make mistakes, and I would prefer if I had this statement in writing. During this explanation, I was hung up on, yet again.

    Gary, you must understand that customer service is the primary part of any company, that people make a judgment on. You stick people with 2 year contracts (which is just fine) which cannot be broken, even if there is an issue with Sprint (which is not fine).

    If you truly believed in the company you lead, you would have looked into these issues personally the first time I emailed you.

    Please see the link below, which was recorded by a person who called AOL to cancel his account. I highly recommend you take a lesson from the great amount of media coverage that this got.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13447232/

    Thank you,
    Jason

Sprint writes:

    Dear Mr. [Jason]:

    To completely resolve your billing concerns, I applied a credit of $77.79 to your account to offset the final balance. As a result, your account is closed and reflects a zero balance.

    If you have any questions, you may contact our office by calling
    1-877-875-7505. (UPDATE: 5/06/07: number has been disconnected) We are available Monday through Friday between 7 a.m.
    and 5 p.m., Central Time.

    Sincerely,

    /Claudia Poe/
    VIP Executive Analyst
    Sprint Nextel Corporation

Comments

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  1. josh1701 says:

    While I’m happy for Jason, Sprint failed to address his concerns besides canceling his account and zeroing his balance. Instead of replying with automated responses, they should have had the courtesy to take the same time and care to reply to Jason that he took to write to them. I can’t understand why they didn’t take the opportunity, which Jason gave them by contacting them, to keep him as a customer, especially one who’s been with them for four years.

  2. Mike_ says:

    It took me 4 months and about 10 phone calls to get a recurring $5 fee for “Mapquest Mobile” removed from the second phone on my account. Several CSRs told me I had to call some 3rd party I had never heard of (“Vindigo”). This seemed absurd, but I humored them and called anyway. (Vindigo told me to call Sprint.) Other CSRs told me they had removed the service, or that they would block 3rd-party charges. Of course, the fee always appeared on my next bill.

    Eventually, I figured out if I logged into Sprint’s web site using the phone number of the affected line, I could remove the service from the account myself. This revelation arrived only after I had been completely exhausted by Sprint’s horrible, incompetent customer service. I have no idea how “Mapquest Mobile” ended up on our account. Sprint had no idea how to remove it.

    Whatever they’re paying those people, it’s too much. They need to stop hiring so many idiots and assholes.

  3. wasylm says:

    This sort of thing just blows my mind. If ONE mobile company, just one, could take the time to improve their customer service to a decent level, and earn a reputation for it, people would flock to them. Companies like Sprint, Verizon, and Cingular would hemmorhage subscribers left and right to a company who cared about their customers. But apparently it makes more fiscal sense to screw the consumer than to woo the consumer. It’s like they’re competing to see who can earn the worst rep.

  4. Harlan says:

    I’ve got Sprint too. So far, I’ve been lucky, and have had only a few simple problems that CS has been able to fix easily. But this is a pretty ridiculous story. I’d suggest that Jason find out who’s on the Board of Sprint, and send to each of their offices a memo detailing how badly the Sprint CEO (who they hire!) has been wasting money. Ah, here we are: http://www.sprint.com/governance/board/

  5. Echodork says:

    My cell phone contract expires in a month. Thanks for helping me narrow down my search for a new provider.

  6. battlerobo says:

    Way to go for Jason. I’ve never done business with Sprint before, so I wouldn’t know how their customer service is. Jason writes his e-mail very well and if I were a CEO, I would appreciate this valuable customer input. I wish Sprint did make more of an effort to retain his business with them. Instead, they just gave him the cold shoulder and effectively said, “Get lost.” At least they had the manners to credit him the remaining balance.

  7. rbf2000 says:

    I can’t understand why they didn’t take the opportunity, which Jason gave them by contacting them, to keep him as a customer, especially one who’s been with them for four years.

    For the same reason that Jason mentioned in his first e-mail. He claims that it is financially unsound to have to go through so many reps to get an issue resolved because it wastes their time. Well, I would imagine that the CEO’s time is most likely a little more valuable than a CSR’s time.

    I guess his time is worth more than $77 and an early termination fee, making it more cost effective just to cancel the account than trying to keep him on as a customer.

  8. Jon Parker says:

    >>My cell phone contract expires in a month. Thanks for helping me narrow down my search for a new provider.

    That’s a mistake, because as waslym pointed out, none of the other companies are any better. I’m with Harlan — I’ve been fairly lucky with Sprint and haven’t needed many CS calls. But when my contract was up I went looking at all the providers, and cell phone CS is a wasteland across the baord.

    If one of them could give me decent coverage and decent CS, I’d be there in a minute (or the end of my current contract anyway). As it was I sighed and reupped with Sprint.

  9. fishfucerk says:

    This sort of thing just blows my mind. If ONE mobile company, just one, could take the time to improve their customer service to a decent level, and earn a reputation for it, people would flock to them.

    I have always been very happy with T-Mobile’s customer service, and I’ve previously been a customer of most of the major cell phone companies (Sprint, Cingular, AT&T). Their coverage? Not as much, but their customer service has always been very good.

    I *want* to switch to another company to get a new phone, etc, etc, but I usually reconsider, just because T-Mobile hasn’t done anything to piss me off (a somewhat sad state of affairs, really, when all a company has to do to keep me as a customer is to NOT TOTALLY SUCK). Of course, compared to, for example, the trial of getting my DSL installed via SBC/Yahoo (2 weeks, 3 tech visits, 4 trouble tickets, 12 hours on the phone), T-Mobile is the best.

    As a side note, Sprint actually used to be VERY good, but they started going in the shitter when they started to try and compete with bargain-basement cell phone companies (all of the sudden nights and weekends started at 9 instead of 6, customer service begun being lame, two year contracts became the norm, etc etc).

  10. humphrmi says:

    I’ve also heard good things about T-Mobile, from people around my office. As I understand it, they are one of the few companies who will (after some haranging) unlock your phone for SIM cards (most, not all phones). But I don’t use them, I’m just passing on some third party observations.

    My carrier? Cingular. Yeah, I know. But honestly, I don’t need to call CS much, and they’ve got a good network in Chicago.

  11. North Antara says:

    I’m glad to see all of the positive comments regarding this (I’m the “Jason” who shared my story). I just wanted to make one comment..

    The reader battlerobos said:
    “Way to go for Jason. I’ve never done business with Sprint before, so I wouldn’t know how their customer service is. Jason writes his e-mail very well and if I were a CEO, I would appreciate this valuable customer input. I wish Sprint did make more of an effort to retain his business with them. Instead, they just gave him the cold shoulder and effectively said, “Get lost.” At least they had the manners to credit him the remaining balance.”

    To that, I just wanted to reiterate that I had asked them to cancel my account. They tried repeatedly to get me to stay, and I made it very clear that I no longer wished to have an account. Claudia did ask me (we actually spoke on the phone a few times) once if I would like to stay if they could “make things right”, and I clearly explained my position, and she understood and never brought it up again. Also, it wasn’t in her final email, but she had also zero’d the final months bill, for a grand total of nearly $150, plus the early term fee.

  12. “This sort of thing just blows my mind. If ONE mobile company, just one, could take the time to improve their customer service to a decent level, and earn a reputation for it, people would flock to them.”

    Agree. What’s crazy is that Jason’s description applies to almost every service provider I have to call – internet, credit card, cell phone, power company, land-line. It’s appalling that this level of customer service is standard across the universe of customer service-based industries.

  13. Coder4Life says:

    How do we get access to the EMAIL of an executive that will actually answer back. I recently found a website online that had Gary Forsee’s email address, and I wrote to him and never get a response back.
    EMAIL REGARDING 257.00 IN OVER CHARGES. When I called the Customer Service, the MANAGER: Brian S from Texas Houston call center told me:

    “I do not have time to deal with this right now, Billing already denied it and even if there is an error in fact, I can’t refund your money for you.”

    So I could really use that so I can write to someone that gives a shit about that company.

    I can’t wait to see their stocks plunge, and Gary Forsee loose his position, that would be great. He does not seem to give a shit about his company, but then again who gives a crap. He makes over $5 million a year. Like he’s got anything to worry about for the rest of his life.

  14. North Antara says:

    Jaideepg: You have to understand that a CEO reports directly to his shareholders. If something doesn’t provide value to his shareholders, it simply isn’t important.

    You can’t immediately come out and demand that somebody fix a problem – somebody in that position most certainly doesn’t have to. You don’t abuse them, and you absolutely must treat them like somebody who deserves respect (whether they actually do or not isn’t important). You’ll note that in my email to Gary Forsee, I calmly explained the situation in great detail, and I offered suggestions as to how they could improve (something which would improve shareholder value). You’ll also note that I never once asked for anything; I made it appear as though it wouldn’t affect me much if I got nothing in return. When Claudia called me, that was when I started making my demands. You have to actually get that call first though, and that’s the key.

  15. “This sort of thing just blows my mind. If ONE mobile company, just one, could take the time to improve their customer service to a decent level, and earn a reputation for it, people would flock to them.”

    I wish that were true, but Working Assets did it a while ago — their customer service was absolutely four-star (though, caveat, I haven’t had a cell phone for years; but before I broke my habit I’d had Cingular, Sprint, & WA). They would stay on the line with you whenever they transferred you, and the person you were talking with would explain your issue to the new person so you didn’t have to go through it again. They promised to call me back on a few occasions and ALWAYS did. I never waited on hold more than 10 minutes, EVER. They were unfailingly polite, and when I got the runaround trying to transfer a number from Cingular to them, the people at Working Assets spent more time on the phone with Cingular than I did, trying to help me iron out the problem.

    Yet everybody I told about Working Assets and their fantastic customer service had one thing to say: “Yes, but [insert horrible company here] is, like, three bucks a month cheaper!”

    Corporations are 90% liable for shitty service, but the “wal-mart mentality” is what keeps the corporate culture from improving. Sad but true.

  16. candice01 says:

    May 18, 2007

    To Whom It May Concern:

    As an extremely unhappy Sprint customer, I am writing this letter in regards to my recent experiences with Sprint PCS and more importantly, Sprint Customer Service. The reason I am providing this information is not only in the hopes that Sprint will change, but is to make aware the powers that be what is really happening with regards to Sprint customers on a daily basis.

    My name is Candice Axxxx, my cellular number is (xxxxxxxxxx). I highly encourage you-the reader-to fully examine the notes on my account beginning in the November 2006 time frame, and specifically, the conversation on May 18, 2007 with D. Rxxxxx, EID# DHR3455. While that will not completely cover the full extent of my highly troublesome conversations I have had with Sprint representatives, it is at least a starting point. There is not enough time or enough resources for me to ever truly convey the level of disappointment I feel for Sprint.

    The problem began when I was disconnected a total of 4 times in the same day regarding a text messaging issue with my phone, an issue that should have already been resolved three months prior. After the second time I was disconnected, and after waiting another lengthy period on hold, I had the foresight to ask the representative to call my home number in the event of another disconnection. The rep agreed, repeated my phone number and we continued to discuss the matter at hand. The call was later disconnected just as I had anticipated and of course my call was never returned. Upon finally reaching a representative and successfully conveying my problem, the Sprint representative happily agreed to send me a replacement phone free of all additional charges. At this time I was using an LG 225 and having made it clear I liked this particular model, I made the mistake of assuming it was the one that was to be mailed to me.

    I received a Sanyo 3100 twice, a defective LG LX150 and finally, on the fourth try, the correct phone. This is only after countless phone calls, numerous disconnections and hours waiting on hold. (This goes without saying that this phone was supposedly out of stock and discontinued, and somehow impossible to get.) After receiving the first wrong phone I was given a $50.00 customer service credit on February 8, 2007. I was informed that return kits would be sent to me within the next couple days and that in the meantime I would be issued temporary credit to my account for the outstanding phones. Not only did it take over 2 weeks for the return kits to arrive, but the account had not been credited. I called numerous times and finally received the return kits two weeks after they were expected. I mailed the phones immediately and retained all tracking information. I called daily to check the status of my account, only to find that a temporary credit still had not been placed on my account. I was finally informed that although the phones had successfully been received, the supervisor was only willing to temporarily credit a partial amount. However, I reached a representative via online that was willing to credit me the full amount. I checked the account various times in recent weeks, only to discover that it had not been corrected. I was being charged for a phone still, and that issue was resolved only after an extensive conversation with a supervisor on May 17, 2007.

    To date, while things may seemingly have straightened themselves out, I am still appalled at the lack of competency and consistency on the part of the Sprint representative. After taking a moment to reflect on the issues of the past months I thought it not bold to request an additional customer service credit of $100.00, seemingly a small price to pay to keep someone in my predicament as a customer. Upon suggesting this to a rep after yet another day of lengthy holds and disconnects, I was treated as a delinquent customer with an outstanding balance who had already been ‘awarded’ enough credits. They treated me as though these credits were favors although in reality they had been guaranteed to me from the beginning. After hours of much discussion, two unsuccessful transfers, and five representatives later, Sprint agreed to a mere $50.00 credit on May 18,2006. In my mind this issue is far from resolved.

    There is an overall lack of humanity on the part of the Sprint PCS customer service department. To call Sprint and be faced with an automated voice response directory is frustrating and the systems response is often inaccurate. The hold music is in dire need of a change. The website is confusing and difficult to navigate. The issue with disconnects and problems transferring is completely unacceptable. The inability for representatives to resolve problems is horrifying. I find that supervisors and people with higher capabilities are as bad as those who are not supervisors. However, the biggest problem is the fact that there are no extension numbers or direct lines given to representatives. No matter how unsatisfying or wonderful a conversation I have with any rep, I know that even if I request their employee ID number, I will never be able to speak to them again. There is NO way for me to contact anyone directly regarding any issue. Regardless of the amount of notes that are made, I find myself continually repeating my story each time, leading me to conclude the notes are all but useless. Each department, each phone number, each email, each service Sprint PSC provides, is a complete failure.

    Below I have provided a few of the many examples of other customers past and present which are unhappy with Sprint and its service. I don’t imagine any of the information will come as a surprise to you. I plan to take my experience and share it with as many who are willing to listen. At this point the only way Sprint could really make me happy is if they covered my cancellation fees and paid for a service transfer to another cellular company with a guarantee that we could keep our phone numbers the same. I know that will most likely not happen, but I had to state my terms.

    Most sincerely,

    Candice Axxxx


    http://consumerist.com/consumer/sprint/cancel-sprint-accou

    http://consumerist.com/consumer/customer-service/sprint-re

    http://consumerist.com/consumer/telephony/texas-sues-sprin