Soldier Requires Local Media To Get His Money Back From Sprint

While Jeff Cannizzaro was off fighting in Iraq, he was also fighting Sprint. Jeff suspended his phone while overseas, but left some money in the account. While he was away, Sprint kept deducting small amounts from his balance. His wife kept calling and writing emails, trying everything they could think of to get Sprint to stop deducting the money. Nothing worked.

When Jeff got back in September, he tried writing the CEO. That didn’t work either. It took help from the local media to encourage Sprint to give Jeff his money back.

From King 5:

Sprint wouldn’t talk to KING 5 specifically about his case, but they did act fast.

“I got a call from someone from Sprint apologizing, saying it must have gotten lost in the shuffle and we’re really sorry about the inconvenience and there will be a check in the mail overnight to you,” Cannizzaro said.

Cannizzaro said Sprint owed him $48. In the end, Sprint sent him a check for $100.

“I’m very glad KING 5 is willing to help me out in this situation,” he said.

Hey, Sprint. This type of customer service isn’t really scalable. It’s not cool to outsource your simple billing problems to the local TV station. Ya know?

Fort Lewis soldier battles cell phone company over bill [King5] (Thanks, Landon!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. marsneedsrabbits says:

    Sprint seems to be the lowest of the low. I would never knowingly do business with them.

  2. dragonfire81 says:

    And again Sprint shows up on Consumerist!

    Is there any shock that my Sprint job was the most aggravating, stressful, frustrating and agonizing job I have ever worked???

    I watched with my own eyes as people like this soldier spoke to supervisors about issues like this and the supervisors would always find ways to try to explain that whatever Sprint was doing was legit and the customer would not see any money back.

    In my experience, Supervisors always worked to protect Sprint and never to help the customer.

    I saw supervisors BLATANTLY LIE to customers over and over and over.

    This guy was smart enough to go to the local media. Many are not and end up trapped in the Sprint customer service Vortex.

    Please, everyone in America, I beg you, STAY AWAY FROM SPRINT!

  3. RINO-Marty says:

    The lesson, clearly, is that Sprint cares a great deal about avoiding bad publicity, and cares very little about not robbing its customers. I suppose they expect to earn their goodwill back on this one, but they don’t deserve it.

  4. Coder4Life says:

    Wow, bad press over $48. Sprint must really be suffering.

    What is wrong w/ that company?

    COME ON DAN?? I thought Customer Service was #1 on your AGENDA?

  5. Coder4Life says:


  6. GenXCub says:

    I know these things are a favorite at consumerist, about how we got 1 person’s issue fixed and it took this big effort to bring it about. Am I the only one that says this is a small percentage of the people who have legitimate complaints that go unanswered and unresolved.

    The big corporation makes a tiny gesture like this in a public forum, and makes readers feel like they’re “taking this seriously” but all it does is mask everyone else’s problems with this company with a big cloud of “look over here! Shiny shiny!! I did one thing right!!”

  7. DantePD says:

    Sprint LOVES to dick over military personnel. I don’t know about the other Basic Training bases, but they have a major presence on Lackland Air Force base in Texas, where they sell phone packages to people fresh out of basic training, and are going on to their job training. They’re told that if they get their first permanant base assignment overseas, the account can be easily cancelled. It took six months (four of which I was in England) to get them to follow through on that. And then nearly 3 years later, they sent me a standard monthly bill, apparently reactiveating the account without saying anything to me. I call them and explain everything to the phone answering person, and they say they’ll clear it. I get her name and ID number. A year later, I get a collection notice from them on it.

  8. Verdigris says:

    @GenXCub: It’s not a success story about how Sprint “made it right” with a customer.

    It about how horrible Sprint is at handling issues and the lengths their customers have to go to to correct the mistake.

  9. marsneedsrabbits says:


    That’s not how I see it at all.I see it as “it took public shaming and embarrassment to fix this soldier’s problem What a despicable company”.

    The fact that it takes a public shaming to get Sprint to do the right thing for this veteran doesn’t make it good – it says “this is what it takes to get Sprint’s attention. You will not fair well”.

    Conversely, when a company goes above and beyond, like say, that show company that went above ad beyond to accept an outdated return and sent condolences when someone’s parent passed, I think”wow, I’d consider them for business”.

  10. I saw this on the news, its weird seeing local stories on here.
    I think I eat lunch at the same place as Jeff. I’ll have to congratulate him on getting his $50 from sprint.

    @GenXCub: Good point, but you got to start somewhere right?

  11. jeremybwilson says:

    For those of you in the Seattle area, I wonder if KING 5 sent in the ever-hyper reporter Jessie Jones? Lord knows, Sprint would write to the check just to get that guy off their front doorstep.

    P.S. I took Sprint to the BBB about 8 years ago and won. I’ve never looked back since.

  12. Devidence says:

    I’m with Sprint, so far it’s been a-ok. Their reputation draws this attention now though. It was $48, is that really consumerist worthy? Also that recent article about the lady who told sprint to cancel her contract in 3 months, and really made no effort to fix it on her own. Big consumerist article.

  13. sleze69 says:

    @GenXCub: This is an example of Sprint’s sucking chest wound that is customer service. In this case, paying him off is just putting a band-aid on it to slow the bleeding.

    It is now getting to the point that anyone with internet access who becomes a sprint customer by choice (unlike being forced to use a sprint work phone) is a fool.

  14. WraithSama says:

    It’s terribly annoying that the only thing that gets a company to fix its mistakes anymore is media publicity. Not all of us can get on TV to complain when a company screws us unfairly and are often left hopeless for a resolution that doesn’t end with a bottle of Vaseline.

  15. MikeB says:

    @Devidence: If this could happen over $48 it could happen over more. In this case, Sprint was supposed to suspend the phone and not charge any money during that time. What if they were taking much more out per month and leaving the soldiers wife short for the bills while he was deployed?

  16. girly says:

    Now how come a guy can get arrested for forgetting to scan an item on the bottom of his cart, but you can’t arrest the CEO of Sprint for repeatedly stealing money from you?!

  17. girly says:

    CEO’s fancy themselves responsible for all the profits, so I would say they are responsible for the mistakes, too, right?!

  18. girly says:

    oh man the soda guy really did steal the soda and not forget it?

    Well still I could easily see someone getting arrested for ACTUALLY forgetting to pay

  19. Devidence says:

    I’m just saying that this article really has no details on what they tried to do. It’s easy to create a fuss and goto the news channels. Verizon took $100 from my directbill once without authorization, I got it back. I think there’s a little bit of a Sprint bias now. I have a great deal and great service with them now, so I guess you can call me a “fool.”

  20. 8abhive says:

    They’re only half evil. Their other half is incompetent and unmotivated. Suppose one could argue planned incompetence=100% evil, but whatever.

    It took Sprint a year to enable auto-deduct payment from my bank account. Everything showed auto-deduct: the website, my bills, their screens, and my paper bills even said “Don’t pay! We’ll be deducting $ on date…” Looked good, but no.

    Later, after four service disconnects, oodles of calls to consumer and dealer support hotlines, numerous broken call-you-back promises, and two $100 credits from them to make it better, I just started paying online.

    For the record, I was being stubborn, not stupid.

    Fast forward about one year. Some kind of customer service rep called to see how things were going. Warnings went off in my head. See, I knew better. Service had been pretty good and billing was on cruise-control, but then pain memory is short. I brought up the auto-deduct issue. She acknowledged something must be wrong and stated she would fix it. Right. I made a mental note of it right next to dog barks and refrigerator squeaks. But no, she nailed it and payment has been automatic since.

    I’ll never know if the difference was that they fixed something in their system thereby enabling the fix or if this was just the first rep with a clue and motivation.

    No, I never received the $5 “sign up for auto-pay” credit, and I’m not that brave.

  21. eirrom says:

    I have Sprint and have had pretty good luck with them, but I seem to be the exception to the rule.

    It just amazes me how many people have issues with Sprint. If it is not their billing, it is their coverage, or their customer service. I do worry about the future of Sprint. They do have over 50 million customers, but you hardly ever hear a nice word about them. That can’t be good!

  22. BigElectricCat says:

    I’m guessing that whoever signed the check will get the extra $52 deducted from his/her next paycheck from Sprint.

  23. @mbouchard:

    there could have been some misinterpretation here. suspending the lines versus hibernating the line. both accomplish the same thing, but there’s a monthly charge to hibernate the line.

  24. @girly: By the way they found video of that guy actually stealing the soda, after he paid for his items.

  25. @GenXCub: I don’t think that’s the point of this article.

    The point is that Sprint’s customer service is so f’ed up that it took a TV station get a soldier’s $48 problem fixed.

  26. silentnight913 says:

    When I deployed, Sprint charged me 5 dollars a month to keep the account suspended. They notified me up front about this, and it was the only way to ensure my cell number wasn’t given away. Since I was saving about 30 dollars a month by doing this, I felt they were being fair. Perhaps the policy has changed, but the article does not mention if the small amount deducted was the fee to hold his account suspended.

  27. Umisaurus says:

    Kind of off-topic, but I was very curious to see if it was one of my local TV stations that did this… and it was! One thing I like about the Seattle news crews is that I see a lot of consumer protection coverage on-air.

  28. RvLeshrac says:


    I dunno, when someone offers to fight overseas and risk life and limb for you, charging them $5/month seems somehow evil.

    I’m not for this whole Iraq thing, but soldiers go where they’re told. Military personnel deserve a lot more than a “discount” on the bill. If there’s some reason Sprint needs to charge (unlikely, as Cingular doesn’t charge anything when a soldier is deployed), perhaps they should consider paying the charge to themselves as a courtesy, or placing a 100% discount on the “charge” each month.

    I’m not saying that the troops should get everything for free, but it doesn’t seem too much to ask that they not be charged for something they aren’t using, especially when it costs Sprint nothing and instead would earn them some goodwill.

  29. RvLeshrac says:


    And while we’re on the subject, I’ve heard of some *apartments* holding places at no charge for deployed soldiers, so again… not a whole lot to ask from Sprint here.

  30. RvLeshrac says:


    If they’re exactly the same service and one costs money while the other is free, I’d call that “stealing from the customer.”

  31. Buran says:

    @RvLeshrac: I don’t see it as having anything to do with what you do for a living. I see it as “if they say it’ll getdone, it just needs to get done. For anyone.

  32. sprint is garbage. my gf has their service and so far she hasn’t complained about any problems, but because of others she knows she’s far more aware now about how they are and when he contract is up she’s not renewing it, which in that case they won’t terminate it and will charge her extra. So be expecting a story from me on here sometime.

  33. girly says:

    @graffiksguru: Yeah, I read it about a minute after my first post.

  34. jinjin1080 says:

    I’m glad the guys got his money, but is this really what we as consumers have to resort to? C’mon Sprint! You’re getting beat up left and right for having terrible customer service, how about addressing customer concerns before they get elevated?

  35. SplitCalyx says:

    Is it weird that I am terrified of having a cell phone contract?

  36. Mary Szczembara says:

    My son is in the Navy and currently in the Arabian Sea fighting for his country. He called Spring to suspend his service while he was on deployment, as he was told he could do when signing up with them. He has just been thanked by receiving a $380 bill from a collection agency acting on Sprint’s behalf. What gives? How low can Sprint go?