Sprint PCS part 4 - My Bad Experiences: by Charles Young


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I was ready to change to another wireless company due to the fact that Sprint wireless had become increasingly hard to deal with. After some conversations with Sprint and concessions on both sides, I have decided that I can get along with Sprint for a while longer. This page details some of my recent troubles and problems, and how some of them were either resolved or I decided to just live with them.

  1. Sprint fixed this problem, and I can no longer complain about it. My complaint used to be that Sprint insisted on extending the contract when we changed our cell phone plan or substituted a phone (not only for buying a new phone).

  2. Sprint sometimes extended the contract when we made a change, but did not tell us that this change would result in extending the contract. When asked later why wasn't I told? The response was disbelief and, "you should have been told." In late 2007 Sprint stopped the practice of extending contracts anytime a customer made a change in their plan.

  3. Sprint would not allow us to substitute an old phone for one that no longer works (unless we extend the contract).
    I was able to talk to someone in cancellation and found that I should have been able to subsitute a phone without extending the contract.

  4. Sprint would not allow us to transfer an out-of-contract phone to a line that is still in contract and the phone no longer works (unless we extend the contract and lose the number of the out-of-contract phone).
    This would not have been an issue if we had been allowed to substitute an old phone.

  5. Sprint offers up to $300 instant savings on some phones for new customers, while existing customers only get a $150 upgrade rebate. Why are new customers so much more valuable than existing customers?

  6. Since August, 2006 it has been almost impossible to speak with a supervisor at Sprint.

  7. I did not like being disconnected while on the phone with customer service (sometimes while still holding to talk to a real person).

  8. I did not like being transferred to another call center where they could not help me and continued the cycle of "let me transfer you to someone who can help you with that."
    After 5 or 6 of those tranfsers I decided to call back some other time when maybe the first person I talked to could help me.

  9. Different Sprint customer service reps tell us different and conflicting things about the concerns listed here and others.

  10. It is difficult to get Sprint to disable text messaging so that I will not be charged for unwanted messages.

  11. Sprint makes it difficult for me to manage the account -- my daughter's name is on the account, but she does not have the patience to deal with Sprint.

  12. Sprint refuses to transfer the account to me because I will not divulge my social security number.

  13. I was slammed - charges started appearing on my bill for some strange "third party non-telecom" service, and at first Sprint refused to unsubscribe me.

  14. Sprint offered to add a 6th phone that would share plan minutes. When I later decided I wanted to do that, Sprint refused to do it.

Fortunately for me, Sprint increased the text messaging by 50% and casual data usage rate by 300% which gave us the opportunity to cancel our Sprint contract without paying early termination fees other than the $150 we already paid for one line. Just before porting phones to another carrier, I decided to give Sprint the opportunity to compensate me for the wasted $150 ETF in the form of discounts on upgrade phones or service. I did not really expect them to deal with me since I had been told that I could not even substitute an old phone for one that was not working. I had also been told that I could not upgrade to a new phone at the same price that a new customer would pay. However, I was pleasantly surprised that Sprint was willing to compensate for the loss that they caused me to incur.

To explain the problem with substituting an old phone for a newer one that did not work -- I did not like paying a monthly payment for a broken phone. At the time I had purchased the newer phone, I had agreed to pay the monthly fee for the phone for 2 years, and I was willing to do so if I could have substituted an old phone for the one that quit working. However, I was not willing to start a new 2 year contract. The old phone may not have lasted for another 2 years. Then I would have been in the same bad situation. I would have had to buy another used phone and start a new 2 year contract, or buy a new phone with no discount and start a new 2 year contract. I had no problem with coming up with a phone to use until the end of the original contract. I just did not want to start a new contract. I also do not like Sprint's policy of starting a new contract any time I change my plan. After 2 calls to Sprint, I figured out that I was getting nowhere, I canceled the phone, and paid the $150 early termination fee (ETF).

Transfer of Liability

My daughter, Tonya, might have kept Sprint service even if the rest of the family did not. However, she would have had to go to a Sprint store with the person whose name is on the Sprint account and show 2 forms of ID. Tonya lives in another state, and it was too inconvenient to make a long trip just to transfer liability. Also her phone was 3.5 years old. She would have had to start another 2 year contract which means that her phone would be 5.5 years old before she would be eligible to upgrade. She could cancel her phone and start another account with a new phone, but she could not have kept her old phone number. Once a phone is canceled with Sprint, that number is unavailable. Her only real option was to transfer her number to another wireless phone company. Besides being able to keep her phone number, she would also get a new phone free or at a discount. I asked a Sprint rep about Sprint's policy, and told her that it would be better for us to just transfer the number to a competitor. She could not seem to understand why we would want to do that.

I have been told that I do not understand Sprint policies. I realize that Sprint reps have given me some wrong information about their policies. Sprint could not possibly have so many conflicting policies (unless the policies change every week). However, for the most part, it was not a misunderstanding. Whenever I was told something that did not seem to be fair or reasonable, I always repeated what I heard and asked if I really heard correctly. Sometimes I have actually called back to see if another rep would tell me the same thing. More

Social Security Number Required

After almost of month of receiving conflicting information, this is what I think I know, or at least the last thing I was told. You can get a Sprint phone and plan without providing your social security number, but you must pay a $500 deposit and you can only have one phone no family plan. It would not make sense for me to have one Sprint phone, and the other 5 family members to have phones with a competitor. I had to decline the offer of having only one Sprint phone.

Now a days a lot of people probably know your social security number. Anybody can call Sprint and give them the last 4 digits of your social and then make almost any changes they want to your plan including adding a phone. Just about the only exception is that they cannot cancel phones or the account.

I wanted to officially change my Sprint account to my name. Sprint thinks this is my daughter's account, but I have been managing it and paying the bills since the year 2000. I want Sprint to only deal with someone that knows my Sprint password not my social security number. I can change my password. I cannot change my social. I do not give out my social to businesses unless I have to do so (like the bank and credit card company). I have phone service, long distance service, and Internet service with companies that do not require my social ( Navigator Telecom, PowerNet Global, and Sysmatrix). I could get AT&T wired phone service without divulging my social if I allow AT&T to charge my credit card or draft from a checking account. Verizon, AT&T / Cingular, and Alltel Wireless all have provisions for people who do not want to give out their social, although the first person you talk to may have to research this. So far as I can tell, among Arkansas and Texas wireless companies, Sprint is the only one who will not let you have a family plan if you do not divulge your social security number. Sprint is the only wireless phone company in Arkansas that was unable to tell me over the phone about their policy for providing service to people who do not want to give out their social security number. Although the people I talked to at the other companies did not know the policy, they were able to find out or transfer me to someone who could answer the question.

We like to think that companies that have our private information would keep it private, but even Sprint has trouble with that. If you ask them to, Sprint will put a note on your account saying that they are not to accept your social security number as ID -- password only. However, I have that note on my account, and every time I call Sprint, they ask for my the last 4 of my SSN or my password. When I tell them they are not supposed to take my SSN as ID, they then notice the note (after it is too late). So, I do not have much confidence in the "no SSN note". If you have a family plan with multiple phones on the account, the note must be put on each phone number.

My daughter does not manage the Sprint account because she does not have the patience to deal with Sprint especially after spending about 3 months trying to get the rebate on a phone upgrade and other troubles. Sprint reps sometimes will not deal with me and Sprint will not transfer liability to me. This may be a problem in the future, but I will try to deal with it for now.

A seemingly knowledgeable forum member at Sprintusers says that Sprint may turn off our phones merely because a Sprint representative did not follow company policy that requires both parties to come together to a Sprint store with 2 forms of ID -- the rep transferred liability over the phone.

Third Party Content - Slamming

My March 2007 bill contained a $9.99 charge for some strange "Premium Services (non-telecom)". Sprint Customer Service said this was a third party charge for something that I subscribed to. However, I had not subscribed to any service. I knew that I had been receiving some spam text messages, so I had previously turned off text messaging from the "manage my account" web page. Even after that I continued to receive a few text messages. The first Sprint person I talked to explained that she could not unsubscribe me from the service -- I would have to do it myself. She explained that it was "easy to unsubscribe" -- all I had to do was send 5 different text messages. I explained that I had just spent 3 months trying to unsubscribe Sprint Family Locator, and I did not intend to spend another extended period of time trying to unsubscribe something that I had never subscribed to in the first place. My patience was thin at that point, and I decided to just cancel the phone. The Sprint lady said that I would still have to unsbuscribe. I asked her if Sprint was going to charge me for junk that was sent to a canceled inactive phone?

What kind of "business" signs you up and bills you for a service that you do not want, and then refuses to unsbubscribe you? This reminds me of MCI long distance several years ago. They continued to bill me $3 per month for being my long distance provider even after I had changed long distance companies. Neither MCI nor Southwestern Bell would do anything about the erroneous charges for 3 months.

The second person I spoke to at Sprint was in cancellation. He said he would credit the erroneous charges and ensure that I would not have any such charges on future bills. He also said that he would disable texting (which I had tried to do on the web page). Knowing Sprint, I will believe that when I see the next bill.

Update: My April 2007 bill had 2 of these non-telecom charges from 2 different companies: Nevis Mobl Alt and Hobbyist Media. In March the customer rep I talked to told me about one of those charges and credited my account. This time I typed a message to Sprint on their "contact us" web page. Maybe they can do something to stop the craziness. If not, I will just have to cancel the phone. It will not be the first time I have canceled a phone due to Sprint's craziness. This time I will not have to pay a cancellation fee since the phone is out of contract.

Sprint replied via Email with an explanation which continues to make me wonder why in the world Sprint would partner with these third party scammer, slammer, schemer people. Sprint blocked 2 out of who knows how many of these "premium services". I have asked that they block them all as I have never visited any "premium services" web pages and never want to. Here is Sprint's explanation.

"If you access any third party premium Web site (like Match dot com, Lavalife, SMS dot ac, and Jumbuck) from your PCS Phone, the account is billed with certain charges (the charge is shown when you access these Web sites).

When you access such Web sites, a disclaimer must be accepted before you can access these Web site. Three of the disclaimers mention the fees (not specific amounts, just ?there may be fees??). The SMS.ac Web site does not mention any initial disclaimer, but pricing shows on the ?About SMS.ac? link.

As you have accessed such Web sites, therefore, the account has been billed for 'Premium Rate Text Messaging Fees.'

Such charges are directly billed by third party premium Web sites.

As you do not want to be billed for these messages, I have blocked the short code from where the message was being sent (26706 and 66075). Be assured the #nnnn will no longer be charged for these messages."

Notice that they did not read the part about me never having visited any such web sites. I replied and asked again that all third party premium content be blocked on my phone. I received an encouraging reply saying "I have blocked the #nnnn from all Premium Rate text messages." I thought all text messages were already blocked. Update: My June 2007 bill had no extra non-telecom charges -- the first time since March.

Add A Phone policy change

In the Spring of 2007 Sprint offered to add a 6th phone that would share plan minutes. When I decided I wanted to do that in the summer of 2007, they refused. Sprint offered to add a 6th line, but it would have to be on an additional plan that would not share minutes. I had 6 phones all sharing plan minutes in 2006. Sprint could not explain what had changed, or why they would no longer allow 6 phones on one plan. Grandparents do not need to provide phones for the grandchildren anyway do they? Let the parents get a Tracphone for the kid.

Letter to Sprint and non-response

It used to be that if you did not get anywhere by talking to a company on the phone, you could write them a letter, and someone would read it and respond in writing. Sending a letter to Sprint seems to be a waste of time. I wrote them a letter and received no useful response. About a week after I mailed the letter, a woman called and left a message about calling a toll free number. The voice quality was so terrible that I could not understand the message, but I think I heard something about Sprint. Perhaps this was in response to my letter? I called Sprint the day I received this message, but there was nothing in the notes about any phone call. If this was indeed a response to my letter, then it was a pretty sorry one.

Some people seem to love Sprint. A few of them have Emailed me. They were very upset that I shared my bad experiences with Sprint, but to be fair I have also shared some positive things about Sprint. If you do business with Sprint, I hope that you do not have any problems. Even though I have been frustrated with Sprint many times over the years, for now I am still hanging in there with them and hoping that they will improve their customer service and unfair policies. Before I got things somewhat straightened out with Sprint PCS, I did some wireless phone comparison shopping which is detailed here.

Either I expect too much from the companies I do business with, or else I somehow manage to find the weaknesses of those companies. I recently had some trouble with the wireline part of AT&T. Here is my AT&T story.


Unless otherwise noted, information about Sprint is based on what I have been told on the phone, via Email, or in a Sprint store by Sprint customer service representatives. Please verify any information about plans and rates for yourself -- it has probably changed. Charles Young chdyoung@gmail.com

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