Sprint Says It’s My Job To Drive Around To Every Local Store And Find Someone To Fix My Phone

(Will Middelaer)

Douglas has been a reliable longtime Sprint customer. He liked their service, even through terrible 3G speeds for the last few years. Yet it was how he was treated when his Galaxy Nexus wouldn’t work properly that is about to drive him away from the company. He’s had it. He finds it unacceptable that the company thinks he should have to drive around to different Sprint stores in his area to find one that might deign to look at and diagnose his phone.

He happens to work in management, and wrote a long account of what happened to him and how he thinks it went wrong. We’ve left it intact, but are guessing that its length is one of the reasons why Sprint has ignored it. Its insightfulness might be another.

I was until recently a loyal Sprint customer. I believe I am somewhere around 8 or 9 years at this point, which in the mobile world is an eternity. I even recently upgrade as I was very eager to experience the LTE network that is being so hyped. This is the case even on the face of the extremely poor 3G connection speeds that I have been experiencing (~200 kps). Once again, you have generally been good to me and all of my research pointed to the 3G issues being tied to LTE work on the network and that this was just a temporary issue. Yes, I am actually geeky enough to try and find the answers in your forums before complaining and the recent discussions pointed to network upgrades. Sadly, I will likely not get a chance to experience the fruits of your labor as I am leaving your network as soon as I can. This will not be driven by my contract date as this may sound but rather the first available moment that I have to secure new handsets and service through another carrier. I do feel I owe you as a management team feedback as to why.

I recently upgraded to the Galaxy Nexus and in the last two weeks have been experiencing charging problems. I am very tech savvy having worked in the equipment side of the telco industry for some time and being a closet nerd. Originally these required me to shut off the phone, but as the problem progressed this worked less and less. Additionally, the handset would open into the boot screen and start the Android start up, which definitely pointed to a deeper problem. Having worked with your process in the past, I contacted tech support after removing the battery and doing a start up to save time. The tech was courteous and knowledgeable, so when he suggested a hard reset, I grudgingly gave it a try to no avail. My only option based on this was a store visit.

I am extremely busy and was pleased to see the appointment option for a service visit and called the store ([redacted]) to make an appointment. I was told in this call that appointments do not matter and I should just come in because even with an appointment, I would not get any priority. This seemed strange, but I needed the phone serviced and could not wait. I got to the store and there were several people ahead of me. The representative told me it would be about 20 minutes, which was acceptable. After 20 minutes, it was obvious to me that 20 minutes was not likely as they had dealt with just one person. Not having 1.5 hours to wait for the initial triage of my phone I left and called
the 800 number for better clarification. They informed me that I should be able to set and appointment and get priority, but that there was nothing that could be done for me. To summarize they told me that even though the store was a corporate store there was no capability to assist and that I could drive around to other stores for help. Now as a consumer, this sounds ludicrous as basically you are telling me that because there is no adherence to policy or consistency in the from line fulfillment, I need to be inconvenienced with a magical mystery tour of Sprint stores to get my phone fixed.

Being reasonable, I tried calling the Elmwood Park [redacted] store again to understand why if your website says that you can make an appointment and gain priority so as not to waste my day. They once again informed me that the site had no bearing as to their policy and that in fact the representative did not know what priority was. I read him the verbiage from the site to which he replied that he did not know why they have the information on there as it had no relevance and that I would have to come in and wait. I must say that I was more than frustrated at this point as I am in sales management and if one of our customers had an experience like this I would be appalled. Wanting to give the call center one more shot to assist, I called again and recounted the gory details of this nightmarish experience. They communicated that they would be happy to help and once again their solution was for me to try different stores to find one that could accommodate.

Once again, this seemed ludicrous to advise a client that the lack of consistency in the sales and support platform requires a client to visit multiple store. I do not have the time to do this, so I asked for other options. The other option was to use my equipment protection plan and pay $100, which was insulting. She reiterated that this was the store network and she was call center and there was nothing that she could do. At this point, I was beyond frustration as to me Sprint is Sprint. The store is a corporate store and they are corporate call center and I, as the client, should never ever hear such an excuse. I was appalled that any part of the organization would give such an answer and that they did not offer any solution beyond the aforementioned solutions.

In my opinion, this representative should take ownership. Call the store and let them know the problem that they are causing. Regardless of reporting hierarchies, I find it disturbing that front line parts of your organization are so dysfunctional that they cannot collaborate on a solution that takes care of and does not inconvenience the client. I also find it amazingly bad that the call center rep did not take it as an accountability to ensure that an experience as this did not get as quickly as possible to the appropriate level of management in her hierarchy or the store hierarchy to communicate the severity of the problems that they are causing and that it is affecting client retention. It did not help that I also heard her say “oh my God” sarcastically under her breath at one point in her conversation. She might not care, but to overtly demonstrate this is just reprehensible. She did suggest I register a
complaint, but that it would take up to 48 hours for someone to contact me. I voiced that in my opinion, the last calls that I made (2 today) should be complaint enough and that she should refer any interested parties to the recording of my call(s).

So there you have it. The recent experience is the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. I see no reason to put up with network issues when my patronage is either taken for granted or not valuable enough to put forth the effort the retain. The internal problems in your organization run deep apparently and it appears that any effort to put the client first are either blatantly ignored or not reinforced within the front line employees. I feel this is the most important part of your organization and the chance that I could be forced to endure this again is too much, especially when the network is subpar to competition in my area. Full disclosure, I have not moved yet, as I am extremely busy. My role requires extremely long hours and often work on weekends, which incidentally is why I needed an elegant solution to my handset issues. I realize that my $120 a month will not make you any richer or poorer. What I do know that is that if I had this experience, I am not likely alone and that you have a real problem. I am open to a conversation with anyone in your organization as to why I am leaving and would even be open to a top down driven solution as I have often had to resolve issues from my sales force once they reached my level. I anticipate that I will be researching competitive options over the next 3-days, so there is still some time to show me that Sprint is an organization that values your clients.

We have to disagree with Doug’s believe that the call center representative should have taken ownership of the situation. Most likely she not only isn’t allowed to do that, but could be punished for doing so and may not even be permitted to place outbound calls. Maybe things are different in Greg’s company, but even if she were allowed to, it’s unlikely that she would have been rewarded for doing so. When that’s the case, why stick your neck out? Just tell the customer that it’s his job to drive around. Then get him off the line and move on to the next person. Have to keep call time down, after all.