As a consumer from your state, I felt it was my responsibility to bring to your attention the following incident.
I am writing to complain about this company. Their practices are very unfair to the customer. I recently changed my services to include a shared minutes plan. It was a family plan calling for 300 anytime minutes, free weekend and nights, free phone to phone, and no activation fee for the second line at $50 a month total. Because it seems to be an unusual plan, judging from the reactions of the customer service people, I usually end up in a long conversation with each person verifying the details of this plan that ends up with 'OK, I see what they did' and a confirmation that this was correct. Dealing with Sprint has been a nightmare and I have spend hours on the phone with them and driving to sprint stores. There is no way to directly contact the same person, even a supervisor, so each call takes a lot of time explaining and bringing that person up to date.
Fist, I have been unable to find a phone that works decently in my area. My old phone actually worked well (good reception and never a dropped call) but of the new phones that were available with a speaker phone (a 'must' for me), the 'free' phone dropped calls so badly, it was impossible for me to have a conversation. Since my old phone works well, this is obviously due to phone qulity. My next option was to pay $50 for the next-step-up phone which still drops calls but not so frequently as the lst. This was my only choice in a non-vision plan phone with a speaker (vision phones being very very expensive)and it is actually a discontinued model sanyo phone. I also believe it was probably a used phone because it didn't come with a box, instruction book or charger and the little CDMA label on the back was curled up as one might expect with use, however feeling like I had no real choice since I knew I was locked into a 2 year plan, I accepted the phone.
When I got the first phone, thinking that I would give the old phone to my daughter in college in Texas (the reason for the plan upgrade in the first place), I had them put my number on the new phone and the Texas number for my daughter on the old phone. The old phone, however, did not work with the new number. I made a number of calls to customer service and to the local store to get this resolved and they all tried basically the same things and days passed. No one seemed to understand what the problem could possibly be. I asked that it be put back to the old nuber, which no one could do either. Finally a technical person on the phone told me that it was due to the change in programming necessary for the new rules involving keeping old numbers when changing cel phone companies, and told me I would need to have it programmed at my local sprint store on their equipment. The local store did not have their equipment working and had 'no idea, but at least two weeks' when they might get a representative out to fix the equipment. I finally ended up taking time off work to travel 2 hours from my home to the Sprint store in Colorado Springs. After waiting an hour in line and much more time after that with them repeating the same things that had been tried before, the representative told me that he didn't think that programming would work because these older phones were 'ruined' once the phone number was changed from the original and would no longer accept ANY number. He offered to try the programming if I wanted but it took 45 minutes to do on their machine and, 'sorry, we are closing now but you can come back in the morning'. He informed me that Sprint had decided that in these cases, the customer would be offered a $100 credit towards a new phone (and I guess you just eat the cost of buying new assessories)....which would buy me the original phone that dropped calls too badly to use and there were no other non vision speaker phones. After more phone calls and demanding a supervisor, I was finally eventually able to get this phone to work, although I was told 'we don't usually do this' (reprogram the old phone in some special way so that it works). I finally mailed the new phone to my daughter-she called last night and the call was dropped partway through the conversation.
Along the way on one of my numerous phone calls to the company, I was told that I could add have up to 5 phones to share the same minutes and they had a promotion so the phones are absolutely free! Thinking that it might be nice for my younger two children to have a phone and, after verifying that no activation or other fees would apply, I told him to send the phones. Several days later, on another phone call I learned accidently that I was down for paying over a $100 a month on my plan because I had added two lines and if I wanted to cancel, a cancellation fee for each of these lines would apply! I was astounded because as I explained in the first paragraph of this letter, I routinely verify everything on the plan at the end of the call (as in 'So, what I have is a plan that costs me $50 a month to include 300 anytime minutes, free night and weekend, free long distance, free phone to phone and no activation fees and adding these phones are free with no activation charge, correct?') Demanding a supervisor, I was able to get this corrected-at least I think so, but since their internal communication is so poor, I am not convinced- and will be sending back the phones. In the course of these conversations, I was told that I was beyond the 14 day rescind period for cancelling service without penalty. This is the first time I ever told that there WAS a rescind period. Had I known, I would have gone to another company.
I have gone to the website to look at my phone and it does not include the free phone- to-phone and the number of minutes are not available because 'my plan was changed' but then, it says that it may not be accurate anyway! The call from my phone to check minutes (which, unbelievably, uses up minutes), is unavailable for the same reason, but there is also a disclamer there about not necessarily being accurate anyway. I have no idea how many minutes I have used but I know I have used many more than I would have because my daughter did not have a phone.
Anytime you buy a phone locally or do various things on the plan, they will credit your bill. They will say they have to charge you for something, say activation fees, but say they will credit you for them so it doesn't really cost you anything. It is very confusing. They tell you that this may be spread out over more than one bill. I should have numerous credits for various things but aM unable to view online and, since I no longer trust this company, have no assurance that any of this will be right when I get my bill. Even then they may or may not be on my next bill, so I won't even know for awhile.
Although this company has made some attempt to help (they did credit me with $10 for not being able to use the phone to phone service, for instance), it has been too little, too late and after an enormous hassle.
I am not sure why cel phone companies get away with these kinds of outrageous practices. Customers should receive a WRITTEn explaination of their plan to sign before being locked into anything. This is the only way the customer has any control over what is being agreed to. Confusing practices like charging then crediting for providing 'free' products and services should be stopped. Billing, plan information and minutes used on line should be available, up to date, and accurate. All customers should be advised of the policy for the right to rescind-this should be on the written contract and each customer should get a copy. I am not sure why a customer is forced to use a company's choice of phones, this seems like an unfair practice. I believe phones would be cheaper and more reliable if we were allowed to buy any phone and let customers shape the market. Phones need to have some measure of their capacity to receive signals. There is a very obvious difference between the recieving capacity of the 'free' phone and one that costs you. This means that many customers are not getting what they thought they were in the service. I am sure many will not know that the problem of poor reception and dropped calls may be due more to a cheap phone than poor coverage areas.
Customers should be reimbursed minutes for dropped calls-this eats into our minutes used. Callling customer service and waiting for a customer service person and going through the whole routine each time you have a dropped call would make you stark raving mad, not to mention using a LOT of time.
Why are these companies allowed to lock you into long periods of service? What is their incentive to do a better job when they have people locked into two years of servoce?
This is an industry that needs to be regulated because they are not doing it themselves, and I believe the public needs to be protected from such predatory companies.
Please contact me if you need more details regarding this incident.