How Switching To Cheaper Smartphone Plan For Deaf Customers Can Cost More

Mobile phone carriers aren’t about to let the majority of smartphone customers give up their voice plans any time soon, no matter how few minutes you use every month. Jack’s girlfriend doesn’t have much use for voice minutes, though. She’s deaf. She actually talks on the phone rarely, and more often uses the data connection to type to people and make phone calls using a relay service. After a few months, she managed to find someone at Sprint willing to put her on a special plan for deaf customers that has no voice minutes, and even gave her that plan’s price going back two months. What she didn’t realize was that she would be billed twenty cents for every minute of voice calls she had made during those two months.

My girl friend is a sprint mobile customer. She is deaf and lives on a very limited budget. Previously she was on a family plan where her parents paid for her service. A few months ago she had the phone put in her name. Because she is deaf she is required to have a smart phone for relay service. This is where a interpreter relays spoken words via a video call. Because it’s a smart phone she is required to pay for the extra “smartphone tax”. This amounted to roughly a $100 a month cell phone bill. We recently moved to a new city and she’s been looking for work. So money is tight.

We were told about a special plan available to deaf customers which has no voice calls but unlimited data for about $30. We tried for three months to get her on the plan. She was bounced back and forth between stores and phone support, each saying the other was the only one who could help. Finally we found someone who was able change her plan over to the special deaf program. They even agreed to credit her for the last two months. What they did not tell us was that she would be charged for any voice calls she would have made over the last two months at 20 cents per minute (before you ask, she has a special device that allows her to make calls through her hearing aids that doesn’t work all that well but is an option when the relay isn’t available, it sucks and you spend most of the call repeating things).

So instead of lowing her bill we now are facing over $240 for voice calls made over the last two months. Instead of applying what she paid over the cost of the deaf plan it seems they took the money and applied it to the original plan cost and added another .20 cents per voice call. Basically this means she is being charged twice what she would have. I offered to pay for the early termination fee and her to get a new phone if she broke the plan with sprint and moved to a different company. But we would still owe close to $250 on top of the cost to break the contract.

This seems to be pure douchebaggery on the part of Sprint and I was hoping the Consumerist might help out.

The Sprint Consumerist hotline specializes in undoing obnoxious things done by the rest of Sprint. Give them a call at 703-433-4401866-561-0035