Jon And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Sprint Service

Sprint has told Jon that he owes over $2,500 in broken phones that he says he returned but they don’t seem to have a record of. His tale is long and twisted, and seems to be the first reported failure of the Sprint executive customer service line we’ve received. In fact, his account sounds so messed up that probably the best thing to do is shut it down and switch providers. Just another drop in the churn bucket. Jon writes:

Dear Consumerist,

Where to begin?

Let’s start with square 1. Around August of ’07, I got a Sprint Mogul PPC. I’m not sure how much you know of this device, but it has been plagued with problems since its release (to find more about the problems, you can visit and go to the Titan section, or under the WinMo/Mogul section), something I was unaware of until I got one. I was also lied to about the GPS functionality of the Mogul, and of the expected timeframe of EV-DO Rev. A – It still isn’t working. Bluetooth also does not work. Soon after, I began having problems with it. I contacted Sprint for a 30-day exchange, as is their policy. I received a second one soon thereafter. Unknown to me, they charged my Sprint acct and applied a 30-day temporary credit, until they received the 1st device back at their warehouse. As is true to my philosophy, as soon as I received the second device, the 1st one was back on its way to sprint, via their own prepaid ups envelope.

I’m just getting started, so keep reading.

Very soon after I received the 2nd Mogul, it began physically failing. When I would slide the device closed, it would freeze and shut off. I called sprint and asked for an exchange. Returned it.

Third device arrives. The box has obviously been beat-up by UPS, I return it and request a next. Returned by DHL to Exec. services, I believe. #4 comes. I believe this device had a very yellow LCD…i.e. White looked like yellow. Also returned it via DHL. #5 arrives, and it also is ready to fall apart.

Got fed up and said I wanted a Sprint Touch, so Sprint agreed and sent it to me. 1st touch had a screen defect, so I returned that and got a new one. This is when everything went to hell.

Since that date, I’ve been more than happy with my actual cell service, and my nice Sprint Touch. It works fabulous. However, my service has been cutoff at least 5 times since we did the final exchange for the Sprint Touch (the first was Nov. 7), which I believe was September 9th. My account is a “Spending Limit” account, meaning once you hit a set amount (200$ in my case), service gets shut off (to prevent overages and the such). It appears that each time I’ve gotten an exchange, the replacement device has been charged to my account, along with a corresponding temporary credit. These credits expire after 7 or 30 days.

Each time my service has been cut off, I’ve called into Sprint. They vehemently apologize to me, and assure me that the problem will be fixed. The most recent occurrence of this was December 23rd. I was traveling cross-country that day, and was sitting in a canceled flight @ SJC to Kansas City, going to MCO, when I was finally able to restore service.

Thanks to Sprint blunder, I lost my Enterprise reservation in MCO, because I was not able to call and either reschedule another flight or change times on the reservation. Yet it was just ANOTHER band-aid, merely a 7 day temp credit. My service was again interrupted on January 2, and I placed a call into executive services. Again. I was transferred to somebody by the name of Tobias Tavera, who was an executive analyst. This was on Wednesday, the second. I spoke to him, explained the problem, and he said he would look into it, and my service would be restored by Friday. I tried to give him a call on Thursday, and had no luck. I left him 2 or 3 voice mails. I again called to Friday, and was informed that he was out of the office, and would not be able to assist me until Monday, or more probable, Tuesday the 8th. I let it go, telling myself to breathe, and that it would all be
worked out. What a fool I am.

I finally gave in and called regular Customer Care today, about 30 minutes ago, and I asked the rep to read back through the last note or two and tell me what they said.

She said, in short, that Sprint has mailed me 7 phones, which is correct, but that they’ve only received 3 back at the warehouse. 2 Moguls, and 1 Touch. I almost hung up on the rep. I asked her to please clarify, and she restated that Sprints sent out 7, received 3. I about blew my top right there. She also told me that my service would not be restored this weekend, and that I’d have to wait until Tuesday to even speak to anybody about it. She suggested that I call executive services on Tuesday.

At this point, I’m in shock at this. Every phone was returned in a timely fashion…You’d think that since Sprint provides the materials to return these devices, they wouldn’t lose them… Now they want to hold me responsible for almost $2500 worth of equipment? WHAT?! Are they nuts! I’m not sure if this is UPS’s or DHL’s problem, or more likely Sprints…but I will not be held responsible for their lack of intelligence and responsibility.

In closing, what I want to for my account to finally have a 0$ balance…I continue to pay my monthly bill of 74.99total each month, in spite of the fact that for some periods I cannot use my phone because it’s been cut off. My account is so messed up and complicated its nearly impossible to figure out because of all the temporary credits, and all of the botched attempts at fixing it. This is bordering on fraud IMHO, and I will not, for any reason, be held responsible because of Sprint incompetent mistake. I’d love to leave Sprint, and I know I have the opportunity to do so because of the changes to their fee schedule, but I’m afraid to do it because of some whopping bill I know I’d eventually recieve in the mail, and I have neither the time nor money to deal with that. I know somebody sued Sprint in small claims court for a very similar problem, and they won, but I don’t think Sprint will make the same mistake twice. So, either fix this so I can finally go to sleep knowing I have a working cellphone…or let me out with no continued obligation and no surprise bill down the road. You could also reimburse me for the equipment that I’ve purchased, time without a cellphone, and time wasted. That’d be great.

Thanks Sprint for screwing up again.



Edit Your Comment

  1. JustinAche says:

    I’d suggest if you do sue them, send the summons to one of the sprint store booths in your local mall, like that guy did with Dell (?).

  2. Hedgy2136 says:

    You sent back 7 phones and didn’t write down the return tracking number for ANY of them? Mostly Sprint’s fault, but own your own screw up.

  3. Naval Patel says:

    I can vouch for Jon on the terrible quality of the Mogul. I bought mine in June and immediately began experiencing problems. I have been in to my Sprint store – probably a good 10 times because my screen keeps going black to the point where I can’t use it at all. It has been replaced 4 times. The last time my screen went black, the manager had the audacity to say that it was physical damage – even though there was not one scratch on the device. Note that I had taken it in the day before for the exact same problem; they did fix it then, but conveniently decided not to do so the second time around. Hmm.

    Sprint Executive Customer Service has come to my aid every time and the are amazing. I just wish all the customer service associates – on the phone, in store, and online – were as knowledgeable and helpful as the SECS team is.

  4. savvy999 says:

    Wait! I know how this ends: Jon’s going to move to Australia

  5. humphrmi says:

    I’ve not dealt with Sprint specifically but I deal with equipment returns all the time in my job, and anytime you return something you need to either keep a copy of the shipping bill of lading, or make a copy yourself. Anything with a tracking number. Then, just to be sure, track the package yourself until it’s delivered. And don’t wait for Sprint to file a claim with the shipper if it doesn’t get delivered – do it yourself. You shouldn’t have to, but that’s the reality. I even take pictures of the contents of the package with the B/L in the picture before I seal it, just so I have more evidence.

    If you did have the foresight to keep all this tracking information, then start tracking down the missing packages. Again, you shouldn’t have to, but Sprint probably won’t and it’s your best chance of proving that the equipment was all received, or at least knowing where the delivery chain broke down.

    If you can prove that every package was delivered and they still try to bill you, you have an excellent case in court. Switch providers, maintain your evidence, send them copies, cover your ass.

  6. Jaysyn was banned for: says:

    1.) Ask them to send you a statement with the charges for the phones.

    2.) Find your shipping receipts. You *do* have some record of the phones being shipped I hope. Send Sprint copies of recipts in a certified letter.

    3.) If they can’t fix your problem or don’t go after UPS / DHL instead, ask them to send you another statement with the charges for the phones.

    3a.) Do an EECB with all of this information attached. Let them know about your plans for step #4.

    4.) Send all this information to your State’s Attorney asking them to investigate the mail fraud that Sprint is trying to push on you.

    5.) Sue them in small claims court for breach of contract (since you never have service) & monetary damages (since you’ve lost money on reservations etc through direct incompetence on their part).

    7.) No one talks about Fight Club, oh wait….

  7. darkened says:

    @Jaysyn: I agree with Jay entirely.

    Stick it to them.

  8. Das Kommunist says:

    You can’t expect them to credit your account for equipment they haven’t received. I work at Sprint as a trainer and that’s not even the point. You could have easily had your money returned had you kept record of the tracking number from the UPS packages.

    They aren’t going to give you money back on something if they don’t have it. For all they know, you kept the other phones.

    Secondly, you can’t blame Sprint for the defective hardware. Both the Mogul and the Touch were manufactured by HTC. Yes, they will gladly return and replace your equipment, but getting batches of bad equipment isn’t that uncommon.

  9. Imaginary_Friend says:

    100% agree with HUMPHRMI. Whenever I ship expensive items, I do exactly that. I also make the FedEx/UPS person scan the package right in front of me and immediately check the tracking number online to make sure it’s entered into the system.

    One particular FedEx driver always rolls his eyes when I ask him to do this, but I don’t give a rip. I’ve been burned in the past by FedEx conveniently “losing” expensive merchandise I’ve shipped to Apple and other merchants. It’s precisely because I’ve got such good documentation that I’ve never lost a claim against them.

  10. neithernor says:

    @savvy999: Hee, I loved this book as a kid too.

  11. misstic says:

    If he’s calling Executive Customer Service and getting stuck in voicemail hell, he needs to keep calling and “zeroing out” until he reaches a warm body. Persistence pays. Well that and paperwork to back up your claims ;)

  12. junkmail says:

    Dugg strictly for the title. (Well, and the fact that Sprint sucks b@lls)

  13. technotica says:

    I have the same phone as he does and have not had the multitude of problems he complains about. The GPS issue (to be added in a new firmware patch) has been talked to death. I do realize people have had issues with this phone and he was not out of order to request a new one. However, he must have the worst luck in the world to get 5 non-functioning units.

    If he would have done his research ahead of time, he would have realized GPS is not unlocked yet.

    As far as shipping the phones back….duh keep track of the tracking numbers or send them back certified mail. Establish that all important paper trail.

    Your service plan also sounds screwy, but that is another topic all together.

    Follow Jaysyn’s advice, sounds like he has it pretty well laid out.

  14. GearheadGeek says:

    Knowing Sprint (and I’ve been a Sprint customer since I moved back to the States in ’01, so I know Sprint…) I’d guess that after the first Mogul, every other one was a refurb. Every warranty replacement I’ve ever had from Sprint has been a refurb, though I haven’t had to have any within 30 days of getting a NEW device (I’ve had one DoA refurb, bad microphone.) I like refurbs from Dell, they usually have a lower DoA rate than “new” machines because they’ve actually been through QA. I don’t know if Sprint actually checks the work on THEIR refurbs, though…

  15. GearheadGeek says:

    @GearheadGeek: This is also why I keep my good old Palm Tungsten T3 instead of getting a Treo. At least a) I have a small, pocketable phone, and b) when my phone is ill, I still have my PDA. I guess that would also apply the other way, but in all the years I’ve had my T3 (*knock on wood*) I haven’t had any problems with IT.

  16. deepsprint says:

    Be very, very careful when exchanging or returning phones to Sprint. Write down the esn number and retain the tracking number when you return the device to prove you returned it. In Sprint, the right hand has no way of knowing what the left hand is doing.

    When you call account services to complain about a phone you returned that has not been credited they have no way for sure to know if you are telling the truth. Incredibly, they can’t just check to see if the warehouse got it. There is no system for that. (I am not making this up.) They can check a tracking number you provide but have no way the to confirm that the warehouse received the phone you say you sent or a box any old phone inside. They have to do things like checking the esn number of the phone to see if the phone has been reactivated on a different account. If the phone is on a different account in the same town the conclusion is that the customer is lying and sold the phone to someone locally instead of returning it to Sprint. But you have no way to be sure and the customer could very well be telling the truth.

    Everyone at Sprint hates to do big credits for things like Moguls because it affects their adjustment numbers. So expect to get transferred around and around as everyone tries to dump the problem on someone else.

    Good luck.

  17. wesrubix says:

    Why didn’t he just do the returns in the store? Or does Sprint not allow returns for online/telesales in store?

    Alternatively, he should have sent the phone in before they shipped a new one, or at least asked about the exchange process. I know some companies actually give you a choice on how to proceed: a temporary charge, or receipt then return.

  18. That70sHeidi says:

    You’ve got two commas in the title of your graphic there. Otherwise very cute!

  19. Pope John Peeps II says:

    If you returned their phones via their pre-paid envelopes, they should have some sort of record of those payments. Hopefully.

  20. donTHEd says:

    I had a very similar situation. Except I was charged $200, not $2500. Sprint and Assurion (the insurance company Sprint uses) bounced me back and fourth for two days. Eventually, I spoke with the right supervisor at Sprint, who gave me a credit before I was even done telling him the story.

  21. Xapa says:

    If you are successful at accomplishing ANYTHING with this most incompetent and unfriendly company, please let us all know the secret. I have a very similar tail, as do many people I know. Sprint is horrible, and once you throw ASSurian in the mix, it quadruples. I’m so sorry for your plight, and totally can empathize…Good luck.

  22. econobiker says:

    The info about keeping copies of return labels/tracking numbers etc. is great.

  23. donTHEd says:

    I will say, when I had my issue, having a copy of the return label did nothing at all. Both sides (Assurion and Sprint) said they didn’t know what the number meant.

  24. Kloud says:

    @Hedgy2136: I can’t believe I’m the first to point out a “blame the victim” comment 12 minutes after the story is posted?

  25. Das Kommunist says:

    It’s not blaming the victim. He’s not a victim if he doesn’t have proof of returning the equipment.

    So, if you were to consistently give someone products and charged them each time, do you think you should give them their money back for not returning the ‘defective’ product?

    We can’t prove he returned them, neither can he. So, Sprint is not to blame here.

  26. Das Kommunist says:

    @DONTHED: Actually, there are many competent agents in the call-centers. They should have just checked UPS (obviously).

    There are two places that the equipment will be shipped back to, Fort Worth/Dallas and Louisville. If they can see that, they should return it.