Dear Sprint: "Die In A Fire"

Sprint. Hilary’s boyfriend wanted one phone. You signed him up for, like, a bazillon and took all of his money, plus an extra $400 from his bank account.

Dear Sprint,

After reading the incredible horror stories on Consumerist, I wouldn’t have touched your service with a ten-foot pole. But recently my boyfriend and I were shopping around for new cell phones and plans, and he told me about Sprint’s $30/mo SERO plan. I was so tempted that I decided to give it a chance and went into the Sprint store, where I fell in love with the Palm Centro. I decided I’d let my current contract run out before I got the plan, while my boyfriend went ahead and immediately ordered the plan online with a Motorola Q.

His online order consisting of ONE phone and ONE plan somehow turned into an order for TWO phones and TWO plans. But that’s just the beginning of it. That doubled order then went through twice, making my boyfriend’s bank account overdrawn by $400+. Finally, to add insult to injury, Sprint attempted a third order, the charges for which were thankfully refused by his bank.

Unfortunately, my now-poor boyfriend did all of this on a Friday. The next day, when he realized what had happened, he called Sprint for help. But apparently their ordering department grinds to a halt on weekends, and no one who could help him with a pending order was available. The only CSRs available were ones who handled existing accounts, not new ones.

Sprint’s SERO plan is less than half the price of a comparable Verizon plan, but I guess you really do get what you pay for.

Die in a fire, Sprint. Die in a fire.

Hilary R.

We passed along the number for the Sprint Consumerist Hotline: (703-433-4401). Hilary said she’d give it a shot. Will her boyfriend cancel? Or will Sprint talk him into staying? The suspense is killing us.

What would you do? We’d cancel and use the tips contained here to shop around.

Hilary, who would like to clarify that she didn’t send the above letter to Sprint (it was just a rant she sent to us), has an UPDATE:

He has called the Consumerist Sprint Hotline (Thanks Theresa!) and they were very helpful. Apparently the triple-charging was a “balance inquiry” but I still don’t understand why charging him three times for a total of $1500 was necessary. They say that the charges will disappear within a few days. However, his order has already shipped so he will still be receiving two phones, but they are sending him a prepaid box to send one back in. The people at the Consumerist hotline said that there are in fact CSRs who can handle pending orders on weekends, but apparently no one else at Sprint knew that.

My boyfriend’s plan now is to see how they handle this, and if it gets resolved he’s going to ask them to waive any early termination fees should he decide to cancel later on because they further fuck up his service.

Thanks again for the help.





Edit Your Comment

  1. vr4z06gt says:

    tough call, its playing a game of who is the least evil……..
    no one really wins, you just loose less

  2. statnut says:

    @vr4z06gt: Nice Family Guy reference.

  3. vr4z06gt says:


  4. shadow735 says:

    hah hah hah hah OMG ROFL after all you have heard about Sprint you were considering an account with sprint and you let your boyfriend get one, sorry but no sympathy here.
    I guess it is true that people cant resist the tempation that evil provides!!

    Wait, is this some kind of secret payback for your boyfriend for cheating on you or something?

  5. ConnertheCat says:

    This is why you should never make online orders on a Friday – it’s just asking for trouble.

  6. m4ximusprim3 says:

    @ConnertheCat: Call me skeptical, but I have a hard time believing that if this happened on a monday it would have been resolved with one phone call.

    Also, Oblig. BTC post: WTF were you thinking. Sprint?? Really??

  7. parad0x360 says:

    Sprint…oh Sprint. Here is a story for you.

    Bout 3 or 4 years ago I signed up for a 2 year contract with Nextel. Bout a year in Sprint bought them out.

    My contract expired and I went to a Sprint store, paid my bill, asked them to close the account and verified I would receive no ETF.

    I went on with my merry life and signed up with Verizon and all was well.

    6 Months later I get a collection notice from sprint saying I owe them around $300. Keep in mind I never once got a call or received a bill, it just went from 0 to collections in 3 seconds.

    I disputed the charge telling the agency i paid my bill in full and close my account after my contract expired.

    Didnt hear a thing until a year later, maybe 13 months. I get another collection letter from a different agency. I again dispute it.

    I need to pull up my credit report here soon to see whats going on with it cause I lost the agency’s number in a move back in May.

    Point of the story is, stay away from Sprint no matter what they offer you because somehow, someway, someday they will screw you.

  8. pigeonpenelope says:

    yeah no sympathy. after many many reports on sprint, the customer should know that they are likely getting themselves in deep crap.

  9. Buran says:

    Call your bank and dispute the charges and they’ll wipe them off your account while they “investigate”.

  10. m4ximusprim3 says:

    Also, die in a fire is awesome. Too bad the real Hillary doesn’t talk like that.

  11. arch05 says:

    I’d like to know the details about how the order went from 1 phone to 4? I’ve never had that happen personally, with anything I’ve ever ordered online.

  12. shadow735 says:

    @parad0x360: Kind of like when you vote for a president, it doesnt matter who you vote for, some way, some how you are going to get screwed.

  13. @arch05: While I know it’s not the same thing, I once used the Borders online in store pick-up option and found out that the store had set aside five copies of What to Expect When You Are Expecting for me. After explaining to the counter person that I wasn’t quite five-copies excited about being knocked up I paid for one book and left. It had something to do with a replication error on the web site side.

  14. DMDDallas says:

    Sounds like another victim of a debit card. If this were a credit card, you wouldn’t be in this situation!

  15. SchecterShredder says:

    Some people don’t HAVE a credit card. FUCK.

  16. Solidgun says:

    If you don’t own a credit card, go out and buy one of those one time use cards for risky purchases. I am not saying it should have been done for a situation like this, as who would expect this from “customer service oriented” company like Sprint.

    But how do we know that the boyfriend didn’t screw up the order by hitting refresh? Or his computer messed up (like F5 being stuck every once in a while or something).

    I guess we will never know, but hope everything works out.

    PS. you could ask your sprint contact that you used to get your SERO plan for help.

  17. shadow735 says:

    not trying to be mean or anything but unless you dont pay bills on time its not too hard to get a credit card, if you have no credit history you can get a secured credit card and build a credit history.
    It just takes a little research and effort.

  18. pigeonpenelope says:

    @DMDDallas: i agree with you about using a cc verus a dc for internet transactions. while my bank would take care of me if something happened on my dc, i still don’t want to be out of cash until it gets fixed.

  19. QuantumRiff says:

    S@vr4z06gt: Your right, Cell phone companies are just choosing the “lesser of the evils”. Amazing how it parallels Politics, isn’t it? ;)

  20. pigeonpenelope says:

    @shadow735: and in addition to your post, research the cc company as well. there are a lot of bad companies. the fine print should be read. also, the limit shouldn’t be more than you can pay off in a month or two. don’t let a cc company give you a 10,000 limit if you earn about 2000 a month. you’ll be in debt out of your ass.

  21. socalrob of the 24 and a half century says:

    It seems like you cant get service from any cell phone company. Sprint over charges and does things like this. AT&T has crappy service, over charges. Verizon over charges. TMobile cant get their act together and over charges.

    Time to take up letter writing again. Ohh wait, the post office loses letters and over charges…..

  22. failurate says:

    I thought about this… I don’t use my bank account to pay my phone bill online (I use a credit card), but I do use my bank account to pay my credit card online. Should I be using a credit card to pay my credit card bill online?
    Should I go back to mailing checks?

  23. Machete_Bear says:

    “Die in a fire Sprint”

    After which the letter is promptly tossed in the recycling bin.

    Honestly consumers, we all get frustrated, but companies love excuses like immature little sign-off’s like this to ignore problems. Keep your justified rage in check, and things should be a great deal easier to rectify in the long run.

  24. APFPilot says:

    Call the Consumerist hotline. They have done nothing but good for us when we were customers. When they did the text messaging increse they helped us cancel service and the ETF fee and were as helpful as possible even though they were losing a customer.

  25. wesrubix says:

    yet another reason to use credit cards instead of debit cards. CONTEST THE ERROR CHARGE! A!@$GH

  26. shadow735 says:

    @pigeonpenelope: I should have put that also watch those interest rates and fees some CC companies that help you “establish credit” make bucks off of that.

  27. energyzer says:

    Don’t you all know about this scam? The agent creating the account is paid commission based on a new service activation. If they sign you up for one phone, they get one commission payment. Two or three new phones gets that much more commission. It takes forever to get it unraveled and meanwhile they’re walking around with inflated commission money in their pockets! A good tactic is to turn a bunch of lines on right before you leave a company and then collect the commission payments. You get the check and then scoot. By the time it’s all figured out it’s impossible to hunt you down to reclaim the commission money… of course it’s called “FRAUD” but do you think they care? This happened at least twice that I know of at BellSouth Mobility stores (before the Cingular name…). They were able to nail one crooked rep. out of two!

  28. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    Because messing up an order should carry the death sentence. By fire, no less.

    Look, if you have a problem with a company, acting like an adult is the first step to getting it fixed.

  29. bohemian says:

    There are still plenty of people running around with Comcast for cable, sprint for cell phone, BofA for their bank, have their taxes done at H&R with the refund debit card, probably have that 401k debit card in their wallet and buy everything at Walmart.

    They wonder why the country is in a financial mess and people are full of stress.

  30. thehelios says:

    Um, this doesn’t sound so true. If anyone has ever tried applying for the SERO line of service, you can only order it over the phone. From the looks of this, he wasn’t doing SERO so you might want to leave that out of the article.

    Btw, on the SERO site, you type in an email (has to be an accepted sprint address) and then the next page gives you a phone number to call; no ability to order the plan online.

  31. mac-phisto says:

    @Machete_Bear: i assure you, it was probably tossed in the recycle bin shortly after someone opened it & noticed there was no check inside.

    i used to run activations on new sprint accounts & despite a binder full of “special” numbers to call, even i became red with anger on more than one occasion dealing with their incompetence. there’s nothing more embarrassing than trying to sell a service to someone & having them witness the special ring of hell you’ve personally just signed them up for – hour plus hold times, endless transfer loops, an ivr that only understands “GET ME A F*&$ING PERSON NOW!”. ahh, how i miss those days. /sarcasm

  32. paullyjunge says:

    i have sprint, havent had any issues though. guess i am lucky.

    sero plan is awesome though, unlimited data plan, unlimited texting, 500 anytime minutes, free after 7pm. $30. i bet you want to tempt the fires now too, dont ya?

  33. jamar0303 says:

    I think I’ll roam in from my current carrier when I go to the States for college. With rates sitting at around $.60-70 per minute for GSM or $.40 per minute for CDMA it’s rather reasonable (I rarely talk more than 100 minutes per month). I get better customer service and a choice of which network I want to use.

  34. Charlotte Rae's Web says:

    FWIW, Sprint bought the local cellphone company we used around 1999. We’ve stayed with Sprint and never once had a problem. (knock on wood)

  35. ekdikeo says:

    I’ll lay a billion to one, that he sat there waiting for the order to go through, it didn’t go through right away, as it had to load the secure page, which secure pages are considerably slower than normal, and he hit refresh two maybe three times. The data was already on it’s way, so it got doubled up.

    I love Sprint, and when I’m not bankrupt broke, I’ll ahve their service again.

  36. CumaeanSibyl says:

    If I relied wholly on Consumerist reports, I’d never have phone service with anybody, ever.

  37. Jeff asks: "WTF could you possibly have been thinking? says:

    Why all the bashing of debit cards? I have had a couple of transactions reversed by my bank that were mistakenly (fraudulently?) charged to my Comerica Visa Check Card. And as a bonus, I deal with a real person at my local branch, not some faceless CSR on an 800 number.

  38. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    @CumaeanSibyl: Not only would you never have phone service, you’d probably never buy anything and have the largest credit union checking account in the history of the world because you’d be afraid of anything that might involve risk.
    You’re on to something, though. I find that too much of this site is about griping and not about improving one’s life. People make mistakes. A revelation, I know. Shocking, perhaps, but they do. And you know what? Just because someone makes a mistake doesn’t mean they need to be burned at the stake. There isn’t some master plan to defraud people of their hard earned dollars and most people in business really do care about doing the best job possible, and therefore it’s not right to cast universal aspersions on folks just trying to make a living.

  39. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    @Psychodad1961: Not sure if its a bashing on debit cards as much as it is pointing out that for this type of thing, a credit card can be more useful. On the whole, credit cards are extremely useful for consumers and if people pay attention to the whole value package (not just the negatives highlighted on this website), they could see some real benefits. Of course, debit cards have their benefits as well, but as this is the internet, I think there’s a rule about mentioning anything positive about the counter argument to one’s own.

  40. rdm says:


    That is not true. I just ordered SERO myself and while I didn’t myself order online, you can get to the check out process and complete the order via web. I just had to use phone because I was ordering a BB phone without BB plan (which the website will not let you do). I did mock up orders dozens of times and (the place where I heard about it) says you only have to call if you are doing something funky like I was.

  41. Scuba Steve says:

    So I could use this with an unlocked Iphone? It’s half as much, but if I couldn’t use my iphone with it then screw off.

  42. mac-phisto says:


    There isn’t some master plan to defraud people of their hard earned dollars

    maybe sprint doesn’t have members on the illuminati, but deal with their activations department for a week & i’m pretty sure you’ll agree that screwing people out of undeserved cash is central to their business model.

  43. mac-phisto says:

    @Scuba Steve: no. iphone operates on gsm & sprint is cdma. confused? clicky clicky!

    generally, cdma (sprint & verizon) is heralded as a better medium, but gsm (at&t, t-mobile & alltel – i think) is more widespread (especially abroad where it is the standard in almost every country).

  44. yesteryear says:

    @Psychodad1961: ive noticed the same thing. i think it’s because half of the readers of this site are ‘consumers’ and the other half fancy themselves ‘anti-consumers’ – those who see themselves as consumers will always bring up the benefits and protections credit cards provide for making purchases (because they are consumers, and because they are right – there are benefits and protections). those who see themselves as anti-consumers will always bring up how shady many of the credit card companies are and will wonder why these same protections cant be offered with debit cards – can someone tell me?

    i’d like to see an article on this site about how it’s possible to be a ‘good consumer’ without credit and/or about people who are using their shopping habits to make a statement. ever wonder why our grandparent’s generation wasn’t bogged down with hundreds of thousands of dollars in consumer debt by the time they were 40? i think its pretty obvious.

  45. jetman says:

    There is no perfect cell phone solution unless you go prepaid. I have had most all carriers and they have there quirks. I have been with sprint for years now and have had the usual headaches. While there CSR is horrible in the end they always get things corrected.The thing is that my SPRINT phone works everywhere.

  46. bobblack555 says:

    “I wouldn’t have touched your service with a ten-foot pole. But recently my boyfriend and I were shopping around for new cell phones and plans, and he told me about Sprint’s $30/mo SERO plan. I was so tempted that I decided to give it a chance”

    –That was mistake number one. You got suckered back into their service by a cheap promise.

    You knew better, but still went through with it – its your own fault!

  47. Jim says:

    @ekdikeo: Thank you! I can easily see the same scenario. Add to cart, think it didn’t happen, add to cart again, click refresh. 4 orders. Ta-da!

    People do this on our website all the time, we have filters to catch repeat transactions like that, but the “charges” (this is actually a hold until someone here approves the charge) stay until the extras are manually voided.

    Therein lies the benefit of using a CC instead of a DC – that delay between a hold being placed on your funds and actually being charged. The bank will take your money out of the “hold” stage much faster.

  48. Kmartinez73 says:

    well this is great because now that number that EVERYONE posted is no longer in service!


  49. Elle Rayne says:

    And, she actually told them she’d heard about them on Consumerist! You’d think they’d realize if they pissed her off, she’d write in to Consumerist. Maybe they wanted the exposure: negative publicity is better than nothing.

  50. mac-phisto says:

    @Jim: i’d believe that, except i know better. numerous times, i activated an account for a person IN STORE. they walked out of the store with a phone IN THEIR HAND that they tendered money for IN PERSON.

    fast forward about 1 month. customer comes in raising holy hell b/c their first bill is $400. i scan the bill. what do i find? charges from sprint for the phone that the customer paid for in the store.

    some of my not-so-caring co-workers simply sent the customer on their way & told them to straighten it out with sprint. i used to get on the phone with them to rectify it & eventually it became old hat.

    to this day, i don’t know what was triggering the errors, but it was a commonplace issue. if i activated 10 phones in a week, inevitably one or two of those new customers would experience a billing error.

  51. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    @mac-phisto: I know that one person does not a trend make, but I’ve actually never had major problems with sprint over the last 6 or so years. I’m not saying that it’s the consumer’s fault (it probably isn’t), but I don’t think they are the bunch of incompetent boobs they appear to be when someone is trying to generate blog post hits.

  52. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    I find that too much of this site is about griping and not about improving one’s life.

    @notallcompaniesareevil: Advice on how to deal with companies and knowing how to fix errors as fast and painlessly as possible does improve your life.

    That’s not even including the Personal Finance posts.

  53. Jim says:

    @mac-phisto: I am one of those “one or two”, I know the joy of Sprint billing errors. My wife quit letting me see the bills so I wouldn’t have a heart attack, but last time I did, they were 4 for 32 in sending a correct bill.

    For sure, your scenario is accurate, but there’s more than one way to bilk a sucker.

  54. 310Drew says:

    At one time, the only way to get the SERO plan was to order it online. The SERO orders originally went through a third party vendor called Wirefly. This became a problem for me, because the agreement stated if you had a problem with your phone, it was to be mailed back to a fulfillment center, and they woudl send you a new one. I took my Q into the local sprint store, not telling the tech I had ordered it online. He swapped it out for a new Q that would supposedly work better. No luck. I returned to the store again, and told them I wanted to switch the the Palm. This person noticed I ordered online and said he could not accept the phone, it had to be mailed back. I told the rep the original phone had been swapped in the store already, so I no longer had it. After hours of arguing over the techs mistake, I was given the Palm phone but told I no longer had a 30 day exchange window as this was considered a courtesy. Other than the faulty Q, I have had no problems with the Palm Treo.

  55. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: “Advice on how to deal with companies and knowing how to fix errors as fast and painlessly as possible does improve your life.”
    Too often, though, the posts are one-sided complaints from people who think they’ve been jilted, or they are cellphone shots of sale signs inside a store that were, for one reason or another, incorrect and funny. And the number of times when I think to myself (often confirmed in the comments) that the consumer is to blame, really makes be question the overall attitude of the site. Is it one of truth and assistance, or is it one of vengeance and ridicule?

    As I’ve always said, I think the consumerist has high ideals but could not do a better job of messing up the execution.

  56. Wynner3 says:

    According to Consumer Reports Sprint is one of the worst companies. My current job and my last job both had deals for Sprint phones which I declined and stuck with Verizon.