Update 11/16 4pm: Sprint finally did resolve this – the story is HERE (shorter this time, promise!)
Update 4:30pm: I realize it’s a weekend so I probably won’t hear back from anyone at Sprint, if I ever do, but so far this is the other actions I’ve taken. At this point, it’s more of a matter of principal. I’ve posted about this on Facebook (with some really interesting conversations going on too) and Twitter where a Palm developer responded. I also called and left a voice mail at the Consumerist’s Sprint whatever line. I also emailed a link to this blog post to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and firstname.lastname@example.org (amazingly enough, none of them bounced and I got a standard “we really do care and someone might actually read this one day!” from the email@example.com one). I’m simply not going to pay that $200. The had THREE different chances to make sure I knew not to change that number. I’m a 14 year customer. Will Sprint let a 14 year customer who is always singing their praises go over a $200 mistake that they made?
Update 3:00pm: So, I chatted with some poor guy at Sprint online customer service… I’m not sure that he understands that the $200 wasn’t something they would have charged me if the CSR people would have handled this properly in the first place. So, it’s not like they are missing out on my little $200. So, they are willing to lose a 14 year customer over $200 that THEY made a mistake on and wouldn’t have gotten from me in the first place if they hadn’t, in my opinion, lied to me by omission? I love it. Chat transcript HERE.
I’m so annoyed right now. Back 14 (?) years ago, we signed up with SprintPCS. They were brand new in Hawaii and we needed those newfangled cell phones. Any time I’ve ever upgraded my phone, I’ve never had a problem. I call them up and they make it happen. Back 10 years ago when we moved here to Austin, we brought our Sprint phones with us. Again, never had any real problems. Seriously, I’m constantly singing their praises (My AT&T friends will even tell you, when their service goes down I’m all “neener neener” at them). They’ve never messed up a bill even. In FOURTEEN YEARS. They usually are 2nd only to Amazon in customer service.
Until June. Tom had been dealing with this horrible Palm Centro that just never worked right and the face was chipping off and it was just a bad phone. But it was to the point that it never synced or worked right so we had to get rid of it and get something reliable. We could have paid the $50 or $100 (whatever) and gotten it replaced under our warranty (yes, we are those people that pay for all the extras, extended warranty, roadside assistance-I’ve had to use it twice and it ROCKS by the way, etc) but at that point we were considering either moving to an iPhone or getting him a Pre. I had gotten my Pre previously and he really liked it, but I was within my 30 day period so I could easily return it and we could move to the iPhone. No problem. I don’t really LIKE the iPhone, but with his phone being in the shape it was, I knew I could deal with it. But we both really really liked the Pre. It’s a fabulous phone and it was Sprint – who we trusted.
BUT… they wanted him to pay $800 for the phone when he went up to the Sprint store. Um. No. So, I called customer service to talk to them about getting out of his contract and returning my phone since it was under it’s 30 day thing. It would have cost us probably $200 to get out of his phone at that time. But no, they didn’t want to lose a customer of 10 (well, 14 really, but I guess Hawaii billing is separate?) years so off we went to customer retention (which I had dealt with before because they didn’t want to give us the same deal they were giving new customers on a Treo). They were great. Eventually the guy told me that what I needed to do is go get a NEW line of service with a new Pre and make the Centro an emergency phone (or drop it in a drawer because frankly it didn’t work!). It would cost me $60 for the 3 months left on his Centro contract because we could add a shared line for $20 per month so he even credited my account for that $60. I just needed to call and cancel the phone in 3 months when the contract was really up. Awesome. I was loving Sprint and again singing their praises and enjoyed my Palm Pre (in fact, I love this phone, it’s the perfect phone for someone with a mobile life/business). Yippee. We all win. Right?
So, last month, I called them up to cancel the phone. No problem, they did it, they didn’t say anything about fees or anything. Voila. Easy. Again, I’m telling everyone I know how cool Sprint is. But today, my phone was doing something weird so I called Sprint to ask for help (ended up being able to fix it myself while on hold) but the lady said “oh, and to update you on your balance, it’s $360″. Um. What? I thought maybe they hadn’t gotten the payment I sent on the 27th, but no, they had gotten it. Weird. So the lady opens up my account and tells me that I have a “termination fee”. I’m lost. What termination fee? We aren’t leaving Sprint. We are super loyal, ask Time Warner or Bank of America or State Farm or, hell, ask Sprint! But apparently, that phone I canceled? They want to charge me because I added the line in June. WHAT? No no no, I canceled the CENTRO not the Pre.
But apparently they don’t show it that way or it connects to the phone number (because I switched the phone numbers on the phones when we got his Pre). I’m still confused and no one can answer me as far as why they are charging me. The customer retention dude told me this was all a done deal. I was a very happy customer. So, I call back and tell this same story to 3 or 4 people. Until I get to customer retention where he basically tells me “too bad”. Um. What? I didn’t do anything wrong here! I did exactly what YOUR department told me to. He then tells me that this was all in the terms of service. Yes, I know that document. I’ve seen it in various forms for the past FOURTEEN YEARS. But I assumed that was handed by customer retention or didn’t apply because we were canceling after 2 years with the Centro. He didn’t mention it at the time, the lady who I switched the phone numbers with said nothing, the lady who I canceled the phone with was VERY nice and didn’t mention it. What? I’m basically yelling at this poor guy, it’s not his fault, HE didn’t lie to me, but it’s not fair. I didn’t do anything wrong here, I just followed the rules they gave me. What?
So, here I am where I was in June. Only instead of $200 to get out of Sprint, it will cost me almost $600 to drop my “other” 2 lines. Which, quite frankly, I’m considering doing because I’m SO angry and so disappointed that the Sprint representatives were allowed to lie to me like this.
The problem is that I love the phone and am not a huge iPhone fan. But at what point do we as consumers say “enough is enough”? I guess I might be able to jailbreak the Palm Pre phones and move them to another carrier? I guess I have some research to do and figure out where to go from here. But I really really am upset. I don’t like being lied to. The worst part is that this whole thing could have been avoided back in June if they had just told me this up front. I could have made the decision to pay the $200 or not. The way they handled it now, I have no choice because NO ONE was honest about how it would be handled.
What’s interesting is that Palm is also losing a huge fan out of all of this. I’ve been using Palm products exclusively since they were, well, fancy moleskins! *laugh* And what about the investment I have in the Pre phones? I have 2 touchstones, 3 car chargers and tons of other accessories that yes, I BOUGHT FROM SPRINT STORES. I could have bought them online cheaper, but no. I go to the store because I know if there’s a problem, they will fix it. No questions asked. Easy. Done deal.
Heck, in fact, last night I was talking to a friends boyfriend telling him how fabulous the Pre is and Sprint is. ARGH! What? Am I now supposed to do like everyone else does with their phone plans and switch every 2 years? Does loyalty mean NOTHING to these folks? I joked when on my 10th anniversary with Sprint, they sent me little grip guards for my phone. It was funny, but it was a small “thank you” that meant something, at least I thought they recognized customer loyalty. Apparently not.
Sigh. Now what? What would YOU do? I really want to know… I don’t think it’s fair of me to break down and pay that $200. If I had known it in the first place, maybe. But at the same time, it seems silly to pay the $600 to get out of them all together, but they lied to me. And putting my trust in any company for 14 years and then being lied to, well that hurts.