Sprint Reps No Longer Allowed To Quote Customer In Quotes In Case Of Subpoena?

Interesting, completely unverified, tidbit from an anonymous Sprint employee: “We’re no longer allowed to quote the customer in our notes [on the account] because if they’re subpoenaed by a judge then they’ll be evidence proving they’re telling the truth regarding their situation.” Any Sprint insiders care to comment?

(Photo: Maulleigh)

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  1. mergatroy6 says:

    So Sprint is trying to protect their option to lie?

  2. kylenalepa says:

    Really, Sprint? You’re going to do this now? Man, if true, this is absolutely ridiculous. I mean, not entirely surprising, but ridiculous, nonetheless.

  3. I can tell you that in all of the call centers I’ve worked in, we have never been allowed to quote the customer in our notes. With some of the note taking program or ticketing program would not post anything inside of quotation marks to try to prevent it.

  4. Sasquatch says:

    How do these crooks manage to stay afloat? Oh right… that huge pool of uninformed consumers.

  5. Dobernala says:

    It is now up to the customer to record their phone calls if they want to protect themselves from dishonest corporate crooks.

  6. WhirlyBird says:

    @Dobernala: Luckily, most calls begin with “This call may be recorded”. So you have their permission.

  7. B says:

    Wouldn’t quoting the customer be hearsay, and not valid as evidence anyways? Note, all I know about the Legal system I learned from Law and Order, so I have no idea what I’m talking about.

  8. heavylee-again says:

    @WhirlyBird: That brings up an interesting question I’ve wondered, to which I’d love an answer backed by legal citations (if I can press my luck):

    If I call a customer service center, or anywhere else that tells me they are monitoring and/or recording the call, does that give me the legal right to also record the call without telling the rep that I am.

  9. dweebster says:

    @outsiderlookingn: Ahh, this explains why I always have to spend the first 15 minutes of every call re-explaining the history of an issue to bring their poor CSRs up to speed on the situation. What is Sprint so terrified about that they won’t let actual information that would resolve an issue be noted in a customer account? If they’re really worried about going to court about it then perhaps they have other internal issues bigger than this to address.

    And yes, when I hear this@WhirlyBird: I hear exactly that. Guess I’ll have to be more proactive about recording those calls if Sprint is going to try denying in Court what their reps are saying every day.

  10. Asvetic says:

    They should just adapt what Comcast and most of the other companies do… not write a damn thing down. Then you enter the 6th level of hell, an endless spiral of call-ins, complains, and inaction…repeat.

    If you don’t write anything down, then you have no trail to start with.

  11. dweebster says:

    @heavylee-again: It’s usually stated in a clear voice “this phone call may be recorded” or something similar. No ambiguity about those words – I may record the phone call according to their own words and no further notification need be done. When you call a company collect, they occasionally have “we accept collect calls” or somesuch – the operator doesn’t hang on the line to re-ask if AT&T has permission to bill, and I bet ma bell gets their cash…

  12. AvWuff says:

    @heavylee-again: Check your state laws. Many states/counties/jurisdictions allow what is called “Single-party consent”, which means that only one of the people on the call has to know the call is being recorded. That person is you, so you can record the call without telling them (you can even do it even if they don’t say ‘this call is being recorded’).

    My VOIP phone system is configured to record each call that I make, and also all incoming calls. It is very useful: I can go back and listen to calls I may have forgotten the details of, and here in Canada it is perfectly legal.

  13. Diet-Orange-Soda says:

    @Dobernala: On this topic. How do you guys record phone calls? 99% of my calls come from my cell phone and I sure as hell don’t know how to record from a cell.

  14. jimv2000 says:

    Seems like they would just scrub the notes for quotes before handing them over to the court.

  15. jimv2000 says:

    @AvWuff:

    Here’s US law regarding recording calls:
    [www.law.cornell.edu]

    These states require consent from all parties:
    California
    Connecticut
    Florida
    Illinois
    Maryland
    Massachusetts
    Michigan
    Montana
    Nevada
    New Hampshire
    Pennsylvania
    Washington

  16. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    @heavylee-again:
    The laws are written by each of the states. Federal law states that you can record a call as long as ONE Party (typically you) consents. This prohibits you from recording conversations you are not a part of without one party’s consent.

    Most states mirror federal law, meaning you can always record your conversation. The exceptions are: CA, MA, NH, CT, MD, PA, DE, MI, WA, FL, and MT. Until 2006 there was no case law for a call from a one party to a two party state. Consensus was that the federal law would apply, but most errored on the side of caution, advise that was apparently well followed. In 2006 The California Supreme court found that the stricter of the laws applies in “Kelly Kearney, et al v. Salomon Smith Barney, Inc.”

    As for the answer to your question, I thought I could find a legal reference, but I have failed. My attorney has told me that as a consumer I can take that message as consent. I live in a One Party state, so I don’t need it for in state calls. If I call out of state I am going to fall back on Federal law, despite the ruling, since I am not operating a business in the other state.

    For the best chance, make sure you have their recording message on your tape. I don’t think any lawyer is going to raise the issue if the recording is there.

    If you are in a two party state, and they don’t have the message, I guess you’re out of luck.

  17. MayorBee says:

    @jimv2000: I’d think the obstruction of justice charges for doing that would be heftier than the original charge. It’s easier just not to take quotes at all. Not that I agree with that practice, either.

  18. noquarter says:

    @Sasquatch: And the lack of a quality alternative.

    You can be the most informed person in the world, but that won’t make a decent company pop into existence when you need to get cell phone service.

  19. StevieD says:

    The usual dogma is “this call may be monitored or recorded”.

    Of course they object when you say you are recording their call.

    So I have started to tell such businesses that all of my calls are being monitored by Mildred, a court stenographer.

    A third party to the conversation does inject a certan nice tone to the converstation and does wonders for pushing the CSR into properly handling the situation.

  20. Kounji says:

    Guess its time to start recording phone calls.

  21. ChuckECheese says:

    @Diet-Orange-Soda: Well, you can get an account through [grandcentral.com], which allows you to record calls, or you can buy a recorder control from Radio Shack that plugs into the recording device, your phone, and an earpiece.

  22. Bourque77 says:

    So in other words sprint is up to business as usual? Im glad to see the new CEO is really standing up for the better customer service there.

  23. Tom Servo says:

    Okay, is there a good way to get out of a Sprint contract without paying an ETF?

  24. Tom Servo says:

    Anyone know of a good way to get out of a Sprint contract without an ETF?

  25. salguod_senrab says:

    I have been experimenting with telling call center personnel that I’m recording the call. I’ve noticed two things (a) they do not hang up (the last time this issue came up, the comments were flooded with CSRs saying they would hang up if someone said this), but (b) it doesn’t seem to make any different to the quality of service.

  26. SJChip104 says:

    The article didn’t mention anything about recordings, which is where this thread went to, however, while the employee is certainly required to testify as to what HE said, the legal rule would be that he can’t say what someone *else* said in a conversation.

    IANAL, but I believe the legal term is “best evidence” whereupon notes pertaining to a conversation would be hearsay.

    [en.wikipedia.org]

  27. cmdrsass says:

    When a company tells me that “this call may be recorded”, I interpret that as them giving me permission to record the call. “Yes, you *may* record the call”.

  28. Most companies outsource CUSTOMER Service to another country. So only federal law would apply right?

  29. fluiddruid says:

    Former Sprint call center employee here – I’ve never heard of this policy, but it could be new.

  30. Crim Law Geek says:

    @B: Under the Federal Rules of Evidence (after which many States’ rules are based) allows for the inclusion of statements by any parties to the action as an exception to the hearsay rule.

    IANAL (for another year), YMMV, etc, etc

  31. noquarter says:

    @ChuckECheese: Grandcentral appears to only record incoming calls, and I didn’t see anything at RadioShack for recording calls on a cell phone.

    Do you know of a way that I can easily record calls made using my cell phone?

  32. Crim Law Geek says:

    @B:
    In the Federal Rules of Evidence (on which many states base their own rules), statements of parties to the action are not considered hearsay.

    IANAL (IAALS), YMMV, etc, etc

  33. Pro-Pain says:

    I was quoted in my account notes just last week. A new rep I talked to read it right back to me word for word.

  34. rjhiggins says:

    Does Consumerist have no qualms about posting items described as “completely unverified”?

    And then have no qualms about labeling other companies as irresponsible?

  35. donkeyjote says:

    @SJChip104: If the employee is APART of the conversation he is talking about, and not a 3rd party ease dropper, then no, it would not be hearsay to testify as to what he was directly told.

  36. AMetamorphosis says:

    I generally tell the CSR in a nice tone that I am glad that the call is being recorded so if there are any discrepancies it can be reviewed for factual information.

    I know that this subtley informs the CSR that I am serious about my call and the outcome I am seeking.

    Additionally, I usually state at the end of the call ( if I was treated well ) that I indeed hope their QA department pulls the call so that they can see what excellent customer service I have recieved.

    As a CSR in PA I have to tell every person I speak with on outbound calls that the call is being recorded.

    Incoming callers are notified prior to being connected to me that the call is being recorded.

    As to the quotes, I have never heard anything from our QA department that I may not quote a caller in my written records of the conversation.

  37. WhirlyBird says:

    @heavylee-again: I have always interpreted the recorded message “This call may be recorded” as them giving me explicit permission to record the call. It’s up to a court to decide whther that interpretation is correct, but it seems pretty clear to me (and hopefully, to a jury as well).

    I suspect, if anyone were to use such a recording against a company, that we’d see a move to change the recorded message to be something like “We reserve the right to record this call blah blah blah”, instead of the vague “this call may be…”.

  38. Buran says:

    @noquarter: What about those suctioncup microphone things sold for attaching to handsets of corded phones? I can’t see why that wouldn’t work.

  39. WhirlyBird says:

    @rjhiggins: You must be new here. Welcome aboard.

  40. Buran says:

    @rjhiggins: Uh, you did notice that they’re asking for that verification? Or do people just like to come in and complain about this in every story?

  41. heavylee-again says:

    Thanks for all the great responses to my question.

    Lifehacker did a piece on recording phone calls. I’m gonna reread it and play around.

  42. attackgypsy says:

    When I worked in the call center we were told 2 things.

    1. Every call is recorded digitally.

    2. Your call records can, and will be, be called as evidence.

    I had to testify twice, and both times, my call records were admitted as evidence.

  43. huadpe says:

    @WhirlyBird: Admission of evidence is a ruling made by a judge, not a jury. The point is to control what the jury hears that might be prejudicial. Juries do not interpret law, they determine guilt or innocence, or in the case of lawsuits, fault.

  44. zentex says:

    @noquarter: I swear i’ve recorded calls I’ve made…

  45. razdigital says:

    @Asvetic: They have already begun not writing things down. The key to that strategy is to make recording of the phone calls as well as keep calling back and asking them to over the bill with you.

    If you can get them confused enough they will eventually end up giving you more than they should have.

    Yes , yes, I know some of you might not think its ethical but you know for all the aggravation they have put me through it should.

  46. brisox says:

    I am a long time Sprint customer (10+ years) and a true-blue Sprint hater. My contract prison term is up on 4/29 and I’m having an I HATE SPRINT party.

    One thing I learned, whenever you call
    their customer hatred center, immediately ask for the cancellation department. They’ll put you through to someone who can actually help.

    Also, if your contact is up, ask for the cancellation dept and they’ll give you the new customer pricing on phones.

  47. strathmeyer says:

    @heavylee-again: “If I call a customer service center, or anywhere else that tells me they are monitoring and/or recording the call, does that give me the legal right to also record the call without telling the rep that I am.”

    Uhh, in some states, you can do this to anyone…

  48. DaoKaioshin says:

    I always I might need to have evidence of later. If I feel I need to use it, I obtain explicit permission at some point in the call (usually around the end). If they refuse, that’s okay since I can transcribe/take notes of the recording if I can’t use the recording itself.

  49. DaoKaioshin says:

    *I always make a recording calls I might need to have evidence of later.

    Oh how I wish for an edit button sometimes.

  50. BrianH says:

    @DaoKaioshin:
    Hey buddy, slow down a little. Even your correction was missing a word.

    I always make a recording *of* calls I might need to have evidence of later

  51. dragonfire81 says:

    As a former CSR, let me at least say that it was rare if I ever saw a customer directly quoted in notes, they’d usually say something like “cust claimed he was supposed to get a phone for free but no notes support” which indicates what the customer was saying without being verbatim.

    We were however, told NEVER to read ANY complete note to a customer…EVER. We could summarize (“The notes say you spoke to a supervisor and no credit was due”) but were prohibited from relating them word for word.

  52. dragonfire81 says:

    I will also add that we were pretty much directed, not specifically, but implicitly to do anything possible to prevent a customer from recieving any information that could be used against Sprint in a lawsuit.

    In addition to not being allowed to read notes as stated above, we were also told to NEVER agree to be recorded and disconnect the call if a customer claims they will be taping, nor were we to offer ANYTHING in writing beyond a few generic things that had messages that could not be altered (ie they’d look exactly the same for every customer and not pertain specifically to any particualr situation)

    We were also trained to promptly shut up if the customer threatens legal action and only say “ma’am/sir because you’ve threatened to sue us this has now become a legal matter and I am not longer able to assist you.”

  53. ChuckECheese says:

    @noquarter: I purchased and own a device that permits you to record cell phone calls. It is called a “recording controller,” which is an interface between the phone and the recorder. So what you need are the following:

    1. a phone; 2. a recorder (tape recorder or digital recorder); 3. a recording controller; 4. the proper cables to connect everything.

    I own the following device: [www.radioshack.com] The controller is about 4″ long and 1 1/2″ wide and 3/4″ thick.

    You plug the controller to the cell phone. The controller has another jack to which you plug in an earphone. And the controller has a cord that plugs into the recorder. To record, you turn everything on, and dial. Some controllers have switches that switch your recorder on and off, so you don’t have to fumble with too many buttons.

    The whole setup is a bit clunky and not terribly portable, but it works well. One last caveat: As an alternative to the controller, Olympus sells an earbud that also acts as a microphone to pick up (record) the sound on the phone call. When you see it, it looks very convenient. The problem is that this device doesn’t work well, and I don’t recommend it (I speak from experience).

    In these modern timez, I recommend buying a digital recorder that permits file transfer to a computer for easy saving and editing. You may not be aware, but some MP3 players double as recorders. If you have one, check and see. It has to have an input jack.

  54. peralant says:

    Regarding cell phone recordings,
    my cell phone is a Palm Centro (coincidentally from Sprint), and I have a program in it called CallRec that can be used as a recorder. I have it set up to record every incoming and outgoing call automatically. It stores them on my memory card, and the name of the files has the date and the phone number of the other party. The only thing to remember is that slowly but surely the recordings will take over your memory card, so I usually move them to my computer once a month or so.
    This program is available for Palm phones, but I bet other smat phones have similar programs.

  55. itsallme says:

    @cmdrsass: perfect!

  56. itsallme says:

    so, start recording all calls, it’ll help when you have to call back, instead of wasting your energy re-explaining the situation from scratch, replay the last conversation to them before telling them there is still a problem, that will get them up to speed and save you some energy, they’ll love that!

  57. mrasdf says:

    The ambiguity of the meaning of “this call may be recorded” might be an interesting issue, whether what is clearly a notice could be claimed to have been understood to be a waiver. “May” clearly means that there is a possibility of the call being recorded by the company. Could it reasonably be claimed that the caller understood it to mean that the company was giving consent for the caller to record the conversation? It would be very odd for the company to make the effort to insert the message for the purpose of waiving its rights. But some comments here suggest that it serves this purpose – is this vaguely plausible enough that it may work?

  58. econobiker says:

    @ChuckECheese: Another item is that you might have to get a converter for Nokia phones- this allows you to hook the recorder to the Nokia phone and allows you to also use the more common phone ear/mic jack versus the Nokia only version. Downside is that you cannot charge while using this converter.

    As for the converter box I use a set of fresh rechargable AAA batteries and have a hot and recharge set. These are used in my recorder also…

    Like ChuckECheese, definitely get a recorder with downloadable ability. I have a Sony now but had used a piece of shit RCA without adownload port, etc and it flaked with a software error and I lost about 70 hours of recordings.

  59. celloguy says:

    As a law student who had to write a brief on the CA recording statue, I can say that at least in CA (a two party consent state) you would be absolutely fine recording if there is a message on their side. They have to expect that it could be recorded, so there is no problem if you do it as well as them: they consent by doing it themselves. It is most likely legal wherever you are if they have the disclaimer.

  60. dantsea says:

    This would amuse me if true, especially since so many companies tell reps to directly quote customer in case notes so that, if sued, it won’t look like the company made a definitive statement.

  61. mike says:

    @mergatroy6: It’s not lieing…It’s more like, not recording a phone call because you know you’ll be asked about it.

    From a company point of view, the more plausable deniability you have, the safer you are.

  62. britne says:

    @noquarter: look up 321-call-log to record outgoing calls.

    @peralant: thanks for the tip! i’m looking into that for my centro now.

    also, anyone have a definite list of which states do and do not require 2 party consent? the one link says IL is one of them, but another comment excluded IL.

  63. geeez says:

    Re: Hearsay

    It is not hearsay under the federal rules as a “Present Sense Impression.” Even though the statement is by a party to the action, a written down version of that statement is generally hearsay. But in this situation, it is written down at the time when the operator hears it (so the chance of mistake is minimized), making it a present sense impression.

    It’s probably also not hearsay under the Business Records hearsay exception.

  64. girlfromNY says:

    @science_diet: I want to know how as well.

    I want to get out of my Sprint contract.

    And if this is true, I will be very upset. Sprint customer service completely sucks and when I’ve called to speak with someone at the cancellation department their attitude is always very matter of fact.