Sprint Helps You Deal With Your Deadbeat Brother

Reader B. probably shouldn’t have used her credit to help her less-than-creditworthy brother get a cellphone, but this story has a happy ending thanks to some helpful customer service from Sprint.

B. says:

As a loyal Consumerist reader I have read horror stories about Sprint’s customer service. I’ve been with Sprint for years without incident, but I was never an apologist. I assumed I hadn’t had an issue with customer service because I’d never had to contact customer service.

That being said, I wanted to share a positive Sprint experience I had today. I have a brother who has bad credit, is unemployed, and has been (unfortunately) on my Sprint plan ever since I foolishly agreed to help him get a cell phone. At the time he asked for it, he was working, so I wasn’t being a complete idiot when I agreed to put my credit on the line for him. However, for the past six months he hasn’t worked and has made me become a bill collector in order to get his portion of the cell phone bill paid.

I finally decided I was fed up with the situation and would just eat the $200 early termination fee. I called Sprint this morning and advised the phone representative of the situation. She asked if I knew about the ETF, and I told her I did and was fine with it. She looked at my account history and commented on the length of time I’ve been with Sprint and asked me to wait on hold while she figured out what she could do. Mind you, I was fully prepared to pay the fee. I signed a contract and would have fulfilled my end of it. I simply answered her question when she asked why I wanted to cancel his line with my sincere, truthful response.

I waited on hold for about five minutes. When she returned, she advised me that she would place my brother’s phone on a suspension until the contract is up in June. At that time, I can cancel his line without being charged an ETF. She also advised me that the phone won’t be usable at all to my brother, so it will appear to be shut off, not just suspended.

This solution was above and beyond what I was expecting when I contacted them. I would have gladly paid the $200 fee in order to wash my hands of this entire mess. I’d have just chalked it up to another life lesson learned. However, this Sprint representative was awesome. I appreciated her empathizing with my situation and proposing a solution that is likely to keep me as a Sprint customer for years to come.

We certainly read a lot about things a company does wrong, and I wanted to give Sprint kudos for doing something right.

It was kind of you to help your brother that way, and we’re glad you didn’t suffer any consequences as a result of it. Using your credit to help family members can be a risky undertaking and can have emotional consequences as well as financial ones.

We’re not saying you shouldn’t do it — but you should make sure to protect yourself in the event that things don’t work out. In your case, being able and willing to pay the $200 fee (rather than getting stuck paying an extra cellphone bill, or having your credit affected if you couldn’t afford to pay) was smart. It’s wonderful that it didn’t come to that.

If you’ve got a customer service issue with Sprint, why not try the Sprint Consumerist Hotline: 703-433-4401