Sprint announced Monday it was canceling the accounts of around 1,000 people who called customer service too much. At first blush, it might sound like a pretty jerk thing to do, have bad service and then punish people who complain, but we spoke with one of our most reliable Sprint insiders, who had a different side to the story: the terminated customers were scamming Sprint, calling in again and again, just to get free service credits.
CONSUMERIST: How frequently did someone have to call to get terminated for calling customer service too much?
SPRINT INSIDER: 90 times in a 6 month period was the standard I think.
CONSUMERIST: Were they calling about the same service problem?
SPRINT INSIDER: These were the customers that had nothing to do but call us every single day demanding credit. And they were getting it because customer care was getting exhausted from arguing with them. So a nickel at a time these customers were collecting literally thousands of dollars in credit balances.
We were targeting people that were just outright defrauding the company. These customers will probably eventually force their future service providers to take similar action if they do not change their ways.
CONSUMERIST: One reader said he got canceled because he kept calling you because you were charging him for text messages he shouldn’t have been charged for.
SPRINT INSIDER: I can’t really get into specifics on an account, BUT… I will re-direct to what I mentioned earlier…These customers were for the most part literally defrauding our company. Not just a courtesy credit or two… We’re talking customers that haven’t made a payment since 2005 and still have active service. Customers who were getting better deals than our own employees get for their own personal accounts. These weren’t the customer care horror stories we’ve heard where a billing issue drags on for 8 months. This was just unrealistic amounts of credits and at the end of the year we were LITERALLY paying these customers to use our service.
CONSUMERIST: That’s pretty amazing, considering people have been emailing us this story all week saying, “Don’t complain too much to Sprint about their crappy service or they’ll cancel you.” PR wise, it spins very badly, very quickly.
SPRINT INSIDER: Most of these customers are just looking to make a scene and want their excessive credit balances sent in a check. And that’s just not going to happen. We are considering every request on a case by case basis. We absolutely will not terminate a customer who had a reasonable claim for calling in. But the ones with the $5k credit balances… they’re going to hear us say no. It’s a harsh decision but it really makes sense to almost anyone who knows both sides of the situation.
CONSUMERIST: Of the 1,000 or so that were terminated, how many are calling in?
SPRINT INSIDER: Haven’t seen any reporting data yet but by the end of the week I anticipate most of them.
CONSUMERIST: They’re sad the video game is broken.
SPRINT INSIDER: Ten months of calling customer care and telling us how badly they hated us and threatening to cancel to get more credits… And one day we say, “Okay. We’ll credit your balance, waive your contracts and you’re free to be happy.” And then they don’t like the ink the letter was written with. Kills me. I’d be devastated if I got a letter like that from a company I do business with. But if I hated them I’d gladly walk away in a situation like that.