BBB Works Against Sprint

Some people think the BBB doesn’t work. They do, but only if the company cares about keeping a clean record. See when you look up a company in the BBB database it shows you how many complaints have been filed against the company, how many were answered, how many did the consumer report as being satisfactorily resolved, etc. So if you have a valid complaint, file it with the BBB, and the company cares about its BBB record, you have a decent chance of getting a solution. You might not believe it, but it turns out Sprint is one of those companies. Here’s Kevin’s story of how the BBB got his erroneous text message charges refunded and let him leave contract early without early termination fee…

Kevin writes:

I’ve filed two complaints with them so far in 2008. Here is the text of the one I filed in January…

“Double charged my debit card and refuses to credit the duplicate charge back to my account.
I called to make and a payment yesterday through Sprint/Nextel’s automatic payment attendant. The pre-recorded service told me the payment “cannot be processed at this time, please hold for an operator.” So a person gets on the phone and takes my payment manually. Then this morning when I checked my bank account online I saw that two payments had gone through. When I called to request the duplicate payment be reversed they refused. This comes after several battles with their customers service department over services ordered which were incorrectly authorized.

For instance, I have two phone lines and there have been 3 or 4 times now when I’ve had a service such as text messaging or insurance added to one of the lines. The customer service people have added the service to the wrong phone, thereby incurring extra charges and it takes forever to get a credit. These are small inconveniences and nothing I’d normally report to the BBB. But after refusing to issue a credit I’ve had enough with them. My contract with them is up in August after 3 years of being a customer. I’ve explained why I am unhappy with service and they will not let me out of a contract. I’ve talked with many acquaintances who’ve had similar issues and I feel it’s time for someone to do something about this company. The problems with service began after the merger with Nextel.”

After this I was contacted within 48 hours and the dispute was resolved where Sprint/Nextel issued me a credit for a free month of service.

Then in April I went over my text message limit. I beefed up the limit to 1,000 texts per month, but they added it to the 2nd line. This caused another huge bill in May. When I called to tell them they added the text plan to the wrong phone they refused to credit me or fix the problem.

At that point I filed the 2nd complaint with the BBB briefly describing what happened. It basically stated what I just did and less than 24 hours this time a Sprint/Nextel representative called me to resolve the issue…apologizing for the treatment I received and they resolved the issue VERY generously and told me they realize their customer service is lacking and they’re “taking steps to rectify the situation.” In addition to free unlimited text messaging they’ve offer to wave the penalty for severing my contract early. That says a lot and the fact that they acknowledged their customer service dept sucks.

To my satisfaction, I was told I can dissolve my contract with them before it’s up in August without any additional penalties. I got a follow up email from the BBB today asking if I am satisfied.

Kevin is now a happy Verizon customer. Here’s where to go to get started filing a BBB complaint online.

(Photo: mod_complex)


Edit Your Comment

  1. zigziggityzoo says:

    Just like the good old days…

  2. m1k3g says:

    I’ve used BBB complaints very effectively against a couple of companies that were trying to screw me. It works. I got Direct TV to remove a negative credit report that was not justified, and a local building manufacturer to fix an item under warranty that they claimed was not. Many companies rely on the fact that most consumers will just ‘shut up & take it’ and not make any noise. I let them know that I’m not one of those consumers and I’ll make life difficult for any company that doesn’t do what they promise in their warranty.

  3. tempest667 says:

    I have to disagree that BBB always works and the BB doesn’t truly make it easy for the consumer to be heard. I reported Dell to the BBB for sending me the wrong part for my laptop (a 14″ LCD) twice and I had to pay for it each time to while the first was being refunded. I could file the complaint online but my responses had to be written and given a little less than seven days to respond. Even then they said it was resolved satisfactory and it wasn’t. At least not until Dell tried to sell my company some servers and our VP brought the issue up. They was about 5 years ago and they may have improved things.

    I am glad it worked for this consumer and the others. It just didn’t work for me.

  4. mantari says:

    So which is the rule and which is the exception? BBB being very effective, and BBB being next to useless?

  5. k6richar says:

    I have recently submitted a complaint with the BBB (Keep away from Can anyone tell me how long before i can expect to hear back from them?

  6. Ben Popken says:

    @mantari: The rule is that the BBB is as effective as much as the business takes it seriously.

  7. ConsumerAdvocacy1010 says:

    @Ben Popken: Exactly. If the company could care less about its repuation… don’t expect much in the way of customer service and honored warranties.

  8. m1k3g says:

    As much as I agree with the above comments, I certainly would never count on the BBB as the only weapon in a consumers arsenal. The Internet provides a wonderful array of consumer sites that allow us to reach thousands of people with very little effort. I always send a polite but firm email first, mentioning the BBB, my local Attorney Generals office, and Internet Forums (such as the Consumerist :-) and outlining the companies options and what my actions will be regarding the outcome of my request. I’ve also found it very useful to lookup the company executives on their home page, and try to figure out what their email addresses would be based on the format of the addresses found on their ‘Contact Us’ page. It’s worked several times with spammers also.

  9. dragonfire81 says:

    Ben got it right, unfortunately Sprint has taken so much bad PR, they are actually starting to take BBB complaints seriously.

  10. MerciNipperkin says:

    What this fails to take into consideration is that the BBB is actually
    run like a franchise operation…the BBB in San Francisco is different
    than the BBB in Orlando etc. Southland BBB (Southern California) is
    notorious for acting more like a criminal shakedown operation than a
    true consumer advocate. There are countless, documented cases, where
    the Southland BBB has carried on vendetta’s with legitimate, upstanding,
    honest companies simply because the owner of the Southland BBB franchise
    had a personal issue with someone in that company. Also, their grading
    system is very suspicious….there are companies who have hundreds of
    complaints that receive AAA ratings and then there are companies who
    have zero complaints and get an F rating. The most glaring difference
    between these two extremes is that members (ie. companies that pay the
    “membership” fee) seem to get a pass on complaints affecting their
    rating…and this, to me, is the definition of extortion. I think that
    there needs to be an active National review board for the local BBB
    chapters, because if we were to rank the Southland BBB by the BBB’s own
    standards it would receive a failing grade.

  11. redhand32 says:

    In my opinion the BBB is beyond worthless. It is merely a business membership organization. I complained about deceptive on-line travel insurance infomation from a prominent on-line travel agency that made it next toimpossible to read the policy which excludes pre-existing conditions. The BBB complaint consisted of a forwarded e-mail.

  12. aighmeigh says:

    @k6richar: The complaint gets sent to the company and they have 15 days to respond. If there is no response, another letter is sent and they have another 15 days to respond. If there is still no response, the phone calls begin. If they are still MIA, the case is closed as unanswered and they should then get an unsatisfactory rating. So, around 30 days max, but you should be getting correspondence regarding your complaint during those 30 days. Don’t be afraid to call the BBB handling your complaint if you have questions–that’s why they’re there!