I guess Sprint has all the business it needs Posted by: McQ
on Sunday, July 08, 2007
Jon touched on customer service yesterday. From the realm of customer unservice, this from a soldier who happens to use Sprint found on a Sprint User's forum:
I have been a Sprint customer for over 5 years now. Just shortly after my unit returned from Iraq, we recieved notification that we would be redeployed to West Point to train cadets over the summer. With almost 1/3 of the unit being Sprint customers, almost 200 soldiers, one of the first things we did was get online and consult Sprints coverage map to ensure that we would have service once we arrived. We where relieved to see that we would in fact have service and did not take any preventive measures in making sure that we would be able to maintain a reliable means of communication to our families back home. The area we would be staying in was actually catagorized as having "best" coverage.
After we arived however, we where disgruntled to find that the service was not "best", there was no service at all. A few of us that used Sprints free roaming feature informed others of this service Sprint offered, and many called and enrolled. Even with roaming, calls are sketchy at best, and very unreliable, but we where satisfied to at least be able to call home for a few minutes an evening and let our families know that we where well.
And now comes the kicker. Many of us Sprint customers recieved a letter at the begining of this month declaring that our Sprint account will be cancelled on July 30th due to the amount of roaming we are doing. The letter stated that they believe that another carrier will be able to serve us better and that we are recieving the boot. Keep in mind, we are not here permanently, or by choice. This is a two month obligation that we had to fulfil, and because of it, Sprint is telling us good bye. We will be returning to our home station, where we have clear Sprint service, FIFTEEN days after the cancellation of our accounts. I personally know at least 10 soldiers that called and explained this situation to Sprint and was told everything was fine.
Of course there is always someone to defend actions such as Sprint's on strictly "it is written" grounds:
I don't know what you expect. The fine print says not to use more than 50% roaming, and you used 100%. I can see being upset about not having coverage, when it was advertised as such, but sprint has the right to enforce their terms and conditions. The lack of coverage might even have something to do with the military not allowing sprint repeaters on the base, so if you are in the middle, you are far away from a repeater, if thats the case.
Now, this person is exactly right ... Sprint does indeed have every right to enforce it's TOS. But there are times when being "exactly right" and having every right don't add up to doing something smart, businesswise. And tossing 200 soldier's accounts because they are on temporary duty hits me as not being particularly bright in that department.
Soldiers aren't the only one's being tossed. Apparently if you call their customer service center too often, well, they don't want you anymore (redacted letter here).
As Larry Dignan on ZDNet says:
Here’s what Sprint’s customer tossing says to me:
* Call centers are so maxed out that it can’t deal with a few stray high maintenance customers. Can the network be in much better shape? * Sprint is simply idiotic about public relations. * The customer isn’t always right.
What’s truly comical is that Sprint is trying to court higher-margin customers. You know the ones that keep up with the news and are now stunned at Sprint’s customer treatment.
Yes Bunky, that does mean that politicians aren't the only ones who are incompetent and inept. Any bet that Sprint CEO Gary Forsee will soon be seeking public office as an appropriate next step in his career.
Hell, they should be happy. They’re locked into Sprint, unable to cancel and go to another provider due to cancellation fees etc. So they have to suffer with s h i t service. Now Sprint is telling them that they have violated their TOS and are going to get dropped. No cancellation fees, just plain old dropped. Now they can go and get cellular service with a company that actually gives them good service in their area. Win-win if you ask me.
Now, this person is exactly right ... Sprint does indeed have every right to enforce it’s [sic] TOS.
I disagree. Assuming the original poster’s account is correct, they published a coverage map indicating that their own service covered their area. In so doing, they forfeited any right to ding customers for "roaming" too much there. Based on my own experience with Sprint, this seems to be their M.O.: publish coverage maps to make it look as though their coverage were just as good as Verizon’s, then cash in on the suckers like me who fall for it. There service is all but nonexistent in my area, but you’ll never know that from their coverage maps.
McGurk does have a point, though. I wish Sprint had done the same thing to me a long time ago.
Incompetent and inept? Me disagrees with you, McQ. Notwithstanding the ’customer is always right’ mantra (which anyone who runs a business knows is hooey and lip service for the easily impressed), Sprint ought to drop customers who cost more to service than they pay in revenue. Why should we frown on companies shedding customers or accounts on which they lose money? Shouldn’t GM stop building cars they lose money on? And who wants to have to pay more each month to subsidize people who for whatever reason are more trouble than they’re worth? I sure don’t like it in health care, where I have to subsidize chain-smoking coach potatoes, nor on my telephone bill, where I have to subsidize service for the folks who want to live in the middle of nowhere, so if Sprint kicking out some folks lets them not raise my bill as much next time around, I’m fine with that.
As far as being bad public relations, other than potential problem customers, who is going to drop or not sign up for Sprint because of this? You think someone who is happy with their Sprint service is going to switch to Verizon because of this? It might actually be a PR positive for Sprint, as with fewer problem customers chewing on the customer service lines, ’normal’ customers will have an easier time in getting through on the relatively few times they call in for assistance. It’s along the same way business travelers are more likely to book an airline that charges the obese for two seats or has a reputation for being non-baby friendly... there’s much tsk-tsking among some self-appointed critics, but others would jump at the chance - heck, they’d pay extra to be guaranteed a fat-free no-crying kid flight.
You think someone who is happy with their Sprint service is going to switch to Verizon because of this?
Probably not, but isn’t Sprint trying to gain customers? This will make it harder. I certainly am less likely to switch down the road. I’ve had 3 cell carriers over the years and only one of them has been decent - Verizon. Sprint and T-Mobile were both poor to terrible at service.
When I was in school and had much more time on my hands, I got in the habit of emailing CEOs or division presidents when I was extremely dissatisfied with customer service. Sprint was one of the first companies I tried this with (before the Nextel merger) and the response I received from the company was one of the reasons I continued. The morning after I sent the email to Sprint’s CEO, I received a phone call from his executive assistant with sincere apologies for the poor service (both coverage and customer) and they offered to pay for four months of my bills, gave me the pick of phones for free and supposedly send network engineers to the campus to test for problems.
I’ve emailed 5-10 executives of various companies and almost always get satisfactory resolution. Though based on these Sprint reports, they appear to be taking a different tack.
I am currently deployed to Iraq myself. About two months before deployment, I was a Nextel (also owned by Sprint) subscriber. I had already fulfilled my contract, and I needed a new phone. I went to a Sprint store and told them to set me up, and cancel my old Nextel account. A couple weeks went by, and I checked my Nextel voicemail to make sure it was deactivated (like they had told me). It wasn’t. So I called Sprint and was put on hold for long periods interrupted only by getting passed from one "customer service" rep to another. In addition to that, getting my account put on hold for deployment was another huge hassle.
Sprint service sucks, and their customer service is abyssmal. These guys should count themselves lucky to get out of their Sprint contracts, and I hope the word spreads and the company suffers for it.
Army bases publish lists of business establishments in the local area that are ’off-limits’ to service members (usually places where there is drug use, prostitution, or that like to gouge servicemembers). They should file complaints with their chains-of-command; maybe they will be able to get Sprint banned from doing business with their soldiers....