I've had the opportunity to spend some more quality time with a couple more Sprint customer service representatives. I received my first bill recently, less than a month after activating my account, which was asking for about $158 for one month of charges on two phone numbers. I could have paid my bill online, but there were a couple of things wrong. First of all, my account should never have had more than one phone number on it. Secondly, my plan was only $60 (for the phone) plus $15 (for unlimited Internet access from the phone).
The first gentleman that I spoke with asked me for my phone number, area code first. Since I have a Salt Lake phone number, my area code is 801. When he repeated my phone number back to me, he had my area code down as 301. How does an 8 sound like a 3? You may be able to hear a pin drop over Sprint, but good luck getting numbers right.
After taking the second phone number off my account (which had only been a charge of $2 anyway), the rep informed me that my bill was so high because I was using the Internet so much. I informed him that I had, in fact, signed up for Internet access, and that I expected it to be applied to my account, retroactively. He informed me that he would gladly do that, and knock $16 off my bill. I asked him if I had only racked up $16 worth of Internet charges, and there was a pause. He then informed me that he would be subtracting $60 from my bill. In retrospect, maybe that's what he said the first time. It's the whole pin-drop thing.
As it turns out, the rest of my charges resulted from text messaging. I used to hate it, but with a full Qwerty keyboard on my phone, it's a lot easier to use. Since I had never expected the messages to cost so much, I had never added a plan to my account. I had managed to rack up $23 worth of text messages in less than a month. It was my fault, so I had no problem paying.
But there was another problem. My bill did not arrive until after it was due, and thusly, my Internet access was cut off late last week. Oddly, my phone was not cut off, just my Internet access. The gentleman apologized and told me that he would be turning all of my services back on, and that they would be active within 4 hours.
24 hours later, I called back to inquire as to why my Internet connection was still not working. The woman also got my area code as 301, and managed to manage every second number after that as well. She put me on hold for a very long time, and then returned and gave me a fix. She had me turn the phone off, remove the battery for about a minute, and then put it back in, turn the phone back on, and try making a call and accessing the Internet. In 3 to 5 minutes, she would call me back to check on me.
I did as she instructed, and when she called back 4 minutes later, I was able to tell her that everything seemed to be working okay. As it turns out, all I needed to do was power-cycle the phone. Who knew? So all is well (as it can be) in Cell Phone Land for Joseph.
Things are not looking so bright for Sprint. Their customer service is reminding me more and more of a certain defunct computer manufacturer that I worked for in my youth for about 5 years before I realized that my only job function was to lie to customers. It wasn't like that when I started, but it was definitely like that when I left. That company ended up selling their call center to another company as their last dying action before closing their doors.
Uninformed support agents, long hold times when calling in, long hold times while reps look up info, incorrect literature and web info, and even immense confusion as to which contact numbers to give customers. How many companies will fall because of such horrific internal problems? It wouldn't be surprised if Sprint became one of them.