Swap Your Non-Working iPhone For Another Non-Working iPhone, Lose Right To Sprint Refund

Gary doesn’t want to be a customer of Sprint anymore. You can’t really blame him. First, the local corporate-owned Sprint store wouldn’t let him have an iPhone 5 without an accessory bundle purchase of at least $80. (Sounds familiar.) That’s frustrating enough, but then he discovered that his phone didn’t really get any data service. At all. Maybe the phone was defective, so he contacted Sprint, who eventually told him to get the phone swapped out at the local Apple Store. When the new phone didn’t work either, he learned that Sprint’s 14-day return window slams shut after you’ve swapped your non-working phone for another non-working phone.

I purchased an iPhone 5 on the day it was released from the [redacted] store in [redacted.]  This is a corporate store, not an authorized retailer.  I went in looking for a black, 64GB model.  They had some of this configuration in stock.

The salesperson retrieved the phone from the “cage” where they do in-store diagnosis and repair.  The salesperson then ask me what type of accessories I needed.  I told her I was good without any.  She then informed me that in order to purchase the iPhone 5, I was required to make a bundled accessory purchase.  I was informed the bundle had to be $100 dollars, $80 with the 20% discount she was willing to offer.

I ask if this was a Sprint policy.  After dancing around the answer for a minute, I ask if it was a policy or not, and, if she did not know, we could ask the manager.  She said in no uncertain terms, it was a Sprint policy.  I told her I doubted this, and she said the Apple store was requiring a bundled purchase on release day as they were.  I told her to ask the manager to sell it without a bundled purchase.  She said the manager had already said it wasn’t optional.

I purchased the iPhone and the accessory.  Later, I spoke to an employee at another store where I was informed there was no such policy.  They often will suggest accessories with new phones, but, in no way are they required to get the phone.  I also verified with the Apple store that there was no such requirement – which I knew all along.

That turned out to be the least of the unethical business practices I would experience at Sprint’s hands.  The iPhone I purchased had a problem.  I was getting virtually no data download or upload.  It was so minimal, the phone was virtually useless.   The irony was, it still made calls.

I called Sprint about this, and, after some “diagnosing,” resets and setting adjustments, there was literally no difference.  Sprint pronounced the phone defective and I was instructed to return the phone to the Apple store for a replacement.  I did this, and, much to my surprise, the replacement was exactly the same.  I called Sprint, and, after a repeat of the previous phones tests and resets, Sprint pronounced the phone defective.  Even though I and the rep agreed the chances were very small such a thing had happened – two consecutive phones with the same problem.

I took this phone back to the Apple store, and, after some examination said they would just exchange this one also.  At this point, I asked the “Genius” is she truly thought the phone was bad.  While she wouldn’t give me her opinion, what she did say clearly told me she thought it was the network, not the phone.  I had a similar conversation with one of the Managers.

At this point, I indicated I would return the phone rather than suffer a $400 “telephone”. (Not a smartphone without data)  The “Genius” then said it was a shame to cough up a $350 ETF.  I told her that wouldn’t be the case as I was still in my 14 day period.  She then informed me that Sprint wouldn’t accept this as I had exchanged the original phone, and that was the only one they would accept. I told her this wasn’t the case as Sprint had told me to exchange the phone, yet, had never mentioned this consequence.

I was told by the employee and manager that they knew this to be true.  I asked if all Apple specialists knew this, and, she said they did.  I ask if the Apple specialist who had helped me should have told me of this policy.  She said I should have been told.  At this point, I was still unsure if this was true.

The store manager said he would call the National rep for Sprint who works with the Apple retail stores to see if he could help with this issue. After speaking with him, I was told he would call the store manager to find a workaround, and, would call me the next day.  I never heard from anyone.

The next day started a five day day effort in futility to restore the ability to return a phone within the 14 day period that everyone else is afforded.  The policy is return for any reason within that period.  However, now because of a policy that wasn’t disclosed to me by the same reps who directed me to exchange the phone with Apple, I’m denied that ability.  I’ve had calls not returned by Customer Retention and the “Escalation Managers”.  My calls go unanswered.  The managers call me only at times I’ve told them I can’t take calls.  It seems as though I’m being strung along until my 14 day period is up.  Which, in fact, looks like that will happen.

Everyone agrees I should be allowed to return the phone, but, this policy I was never made aware of nor shown, prohibits this.  Then, I’m told things like the inventory system won’t allow it, etc….  It’s been a systematic effort to prevent the return of a phone.  I didn’t threaten to pull my line, I only wanted to return the phone, as policy states, and return my line to it’s previous state.  I’ve never been treated with such disregard by a company.

At this point, I have no desire to be a customer of Sprint.  But, if I want to cancel this line, as I should be able to do at this point without penalty, I’ll have to pay a $350 ETF.  On a phone that is virtually useless to me, and which I have been denied the right to return.

Maybe he’s already tried this, but Gary could try calling the executive customer service team at Sprint at 866-561-0035. That’s the special line for Consumerist readers and other cool people to get help from Sprint.

PREVIOUSLY:
Did A Retailer Make You Buy Accessories With Your iPhone 5?