UPDATE: Surfing On Our Free Sprint Cellphone

We just called Sprint to check on our coverage for this weekend’s trip into the Poconos and experienced something bizarre.

When we called customer service from our cellphone, we were on hold for a long time. While still on hold, we called Sprint using Skype. We were connected to an operator within 30 seconds. We hung up the Skype and called back again. Same thing. The actual cellphone was still on hold, at over eight minutes, when the second CSR picked up our Skype call.

What’s the deal? Are we truly Sprint Ambassadors or mere embassy pageboys?


Edit Your Comment

  1. Tiger says:

    My guess, the caller id shows you are already a customer when you call from the sprint cell phone, so you are a lower priorty than the potential customer from the unknown number.

  2. Lemurs says:

    Damn, Tiger beat me to it. When you’re locked into a bulletproof, blood-soaked contract, your phone calls are mearly money-losing events for the company. They’d much rather you get tired and hang up than have a real person talk to you immediately.

    Now if you’re a potential customer, they don’t want you to wait a second. There are blank contracts demanding blood! Once you sign, back of the line.

    Phone queueing systems are very sophisticated, so it’s easy for them to route you into different priority queues based on information they’ve collected, espcially a company that owns it’s own phone records…

  3. Ben Popken says:

    Lemurs & Tiger, that definitely makes sense, except that I punched the numbers for “existing customer” and had to put in my cellphone number.

  4. Tiger says:

    Punching in the cell number and existing member just routes you to the proper deptartment. The caller id decides your priority.

  5. Ben Popken says:

    They must get a kick out of my Skype caller ID then. My area code shows up as “000.”

  6. billhelm says:

    I don’t buy that caller id stuff… I get a USAA discount and they have special customer service reps affiliated with this at sprint. I get someobody right away when I put in my number no matter what.

  7. Lemurs says:

    billhelm I don’t doubt it, but there are all kinds of heuristics that a phone system can use to put you into the right queue, and then assign you a priority in that queue. It can then change those rankings on the fly as the situation changes.

    For example, if the policy is that 10 minute waits are excessive, and you keep getting bumped in the queue by new higher priority calls that come in, the second you hit that magic 10 minute mark, your priority will get a boost and/or you won’t get pushed down anymore.

    As I said, there is a ton of places they get the data from. Caller ID, user-entered data, the contract associated with that data, hold times, number of people in the queues, etc…

  8. Jesse McBesse says:

    Do the minutes count when you call customer service? If they DO count, then this is probably a way for them to make you use up all of your minutes so they can sock you with overages. All this assuming they also don’t associate a free phone/minutes with the number it’s assigned to. Whatever the scenario, it simply reaffirms the fact that cell companies SUCKKKK.

  9. homerjay says:

    Is it possible that you simply called into a different call center from the ‘land line’ vs. the call center that you call into on your sprint phone?

  10. Jesse McBesse,

    Every cell phone company I’ve ever used has had free calls to customer service.

  11. Lemurs says:

    homerjay: Possible, but unlikely. Any company that has as many customers as Sprint has a worldwide queuing system. All the calls go into a big dispatch queue and get doled out to wherever the next person with a headset is sitting that meets the same requirements as the call type. It’s virtualized into different “Queues” for management sake, but in reality there’s one big compute center that routes them all.

    These systems were commonplace 10-15 years ago, so there’s no excuse to have an older one at this day in age. They make managing the costs of worldwide call centers much easier to manage.

  12. Ben Popken says:

    @Jesse: It’s a toll-free number.
    @homerjay: Who knows? But I repeated it yet again with Skype and reached ‘Whitney’ in 1:12.

  13. Amy Alkon000 says:

    This is a big racket in France – they charge tolls for calling customer service numbers. And I love France for many reasons, but let’s just say “customer service” isn’t one of their high points.