Review // Sprint Customer Service

December 30, 2014

I have been a Sprint customer for ~13-14 years. Their customer service has never been great, but their techincal competencies have always been satisfactory (i.e. service is OK). I have had a particulary poor experience with them recently. Local Sprint staff admittedly made a mistake (mistakes, really) with costly ramifications. Correcting said mistake was a major time and cost sink for me. I share my verbose letter of complaint with their customer support staff below. I have concluded that they are unworthy of my money, and I will be ending service with them upon completion of my contract. Here are some overarching failures:

  1. Sprint has a broken support structure. Their own staff must use same the 800 service number as the average Joe. All callers must subject themselves to:

    1. unreasonable delays/holds, and
    2. service agents who do not have ability or authority perform account maintenance tasks
  2. Sprint passively extorts their clients by providing such poor service that most individuals are likely to succumb to unreasonable or unfair terms in the event of a mishap.

It's a great business strategy. They can offer enticing deals (queue the "cut-your-bill-in-half advertising campain"), lure in unknowing customers, then coerce those poor folk to accepting altered-terms. Once the initial is contract setup, if any mistake was made, stone-walled service blocks remedies. The company averts legal action by the simple presence and rare competence of customer service. However, they are victorious in nabbing your hard-earned cash by channeling your account into a state that you do not desire.

I orignally wrote this heated summary at least 6 months ago. I decided to withhold publishing it, for fear that I was over-reacting. Now that I have had time to cool off... I still wholeheartedly agree with my past self. Absent customer service is passive extortion. Can a big company even have great customer service? Yes! Ally bank is always my go to company for this example. Agents are capable, personable, and actionable. Big fan!

Below is my summary of events and recommended actions to Sprint. For what it's worth, they did give me a month of free service.


Hi all:

I've been a long time customer, but had such a poor experience in the past two days that I need some follow up if I am going to continue to support Sprint. I have explained this over the phone to customer care already, but have been disregared, so I am hoping for real follow up here. Here is a verbose, timeline of events that have consumed the past two days. Mind you, I am cool headed and polite throughout the duration of this process. I believe the phone records and the staff at my local store can attest to this. This message has three parts: (1) Events Sequence (2) Problems with Service, and (3) Solutions.

Events Sequence

  1. I visit a Sprint Store to change my plan. I wish to leave my family plan and begin on the unlimited-everything $50/$60 plan that Sprint has advertised heavily.
  2. A representative (representative 1) checks my account, asserts that I can transition without issue.
  3. The same representative also asserts that I can start leasing a new phone if necessary, as my current phone has intermittent battery issues.
  4. The representative asserts that I can begin leasing the phone at any point, even after I change my plan (i.e., I can use my existing phone until it dies, or lease a new one at any point)
  5. Representative 1 forwards me to Representative 2 who is to execute the plan change.
  6. Representative 2 asks me various personal questions (SSN, address, etc), hands me a receipt, and off I go.
  7. With the knowledge that I receive from Representative 1, I decide it's worth trying to swap my battery on my device. It goes poorly, and I accidentally damage my phone. Not to worry--I'm prepared to begin leasing a new phone anyway.
  8. I schedule an appointment online for 12pm the next day.
  9. I show up for the appointment, and it shows my appt as 2pm! I speak with a representative, they correct it, but I wait 45 minutes until being serviced. My delay was about equal to delay from the prior day, although I had no scheduled appt the prior day. Long delay for an appt!
  10. Representative 3 tells me I am not on the plan I requested, but rather the same plan I asked to leave from the day before! However, it's just my line on this family plan now. This is literally the plan I was asking to leave/end. He recommends workarounds, such as "add a new line so I can add a new phone to my account" to replace my damaged unit. I was offended by the suggestion, but remained calm. These workarounds did not take ownership for the misinformation that I was given, and would have more than doubled my phone bill cost (per line) from the prior state. Rep 3 does not provide solutions to the problem, but tries to patch them, dismissing the errors of prior events.
  11. I call Sprint customer support from a tethered landline in the store (as my cell phone is not functional), as this is the phone Rep 3 offers me to dial customer care. This is ironic, because I thought visiting the Sprint store was where I would go to get support.
  12. I explain the situation to Phone Representative 1. It's difficult to hear her, but after re-explaining the situation to her and about an hour later, she has nearly setup my new plan as desired. There are complications with all of this, most deterring being that the incorrect plan change the day before allegedly dropped my upgrade eligibility in the system. Note: I was told that I could come begin leasing a phone at any point after starting on my new plan.
  13. Phone Representative 1 states that because we have spoken for ~a full hour, she must dial me back. This doesn't make sense to me, but she states that there are rules? She states she will call back at the Sprint Store, dually confirmed phone # and location.
  14. I wait ~30 minutes. No call.
  15. I try calling customer service again. I repeat the situation to Phone Representative 2. I have a very difficult time hearing her, this time, on a Sprint Store company landline.
  16. Phone Representative 2 is very concerned about the lack of 'upgrade eligibility' which in-store representative 1 confirmed that I had the day prior.
  17. Phone Representative 2 (to summarize) states that my case is not actionable, and will have her manager contact me immediately.
  18. In-store Rep 1 in the meantime verbally agrees in casual discussion that the plan I was put on was not the plan I had requested during our discussion (he's just entered the main sales area, so we have a while to chat in between calls).
  19. Phone Support Manager calls 5 minutes later. I explain the situation to Phone Support Manager 1. Phone Support Manager 1 states that they will see what they can do, and that I must hold for a 2-3 minutes. I hold >30 minutes. Support Manager never calls back.
  20. I call customer service again. Phone Representative 3 hears my claim again.
  21. In-store representative 1 (what relief!) decides he shall speak to customer service.
  22. Phone Representative 3 effectively states nothing can be done, and the call is ended.
  23. In-store Representative 1 elects to act on my behalf. He tries customer service again, this time, he focuses on just reverting my prior upgrade eligibility as he believes he can handle the remaining open issues.
  24. As usual, we wait with delays. Each one of these calls is riddled with long delays. 10-20 minute intervals, just to keep saying the same thing over and over again.
  25. Phone Representative 4 states that he/she can work with the eligibility requirement reverting, but it will take time. Because of this, getting my account into a state where I can leave the store with a phone in hand, and plan corrected, is not possible by this point.
  26. In-store Representative 1 again tries another service agent (not sure if agent 4 routed us or it was just a different number?) but Phone Representative 5, again, after many delays and repeats, asserts what Phone Representative 4 said.
  27. In-store Representative 1 gets me a loaner phone (very kind, thank you sir), and we schedule a time to meet in a week to complete the transaction. I start to feel bad for In-store Representative 1 as he's probably hungry by this point (we've been dialing-waiting-talking for hours), and he's being let down by his own support team! If they can't support him, how can they support me? I feel let down by Sprint, but, am glad that he managed to take care of me enough to get me a loaner. Friendly guy. Funny too.

Problems with Service

Let's review what went wrong with this process:

  1. Two service agents, one being a manager, never called back as commited from the Phone Customer service line. This was very disappointing!
  2. The Sprint website suggests 45 minutes for these appointments. I missed two business meetings. I work remote and dial-in, and phone service is critical to my employment. I have spent just over 6 hours in store on my second visit trying to resolve what I feel is a very simple request. There was an additional ~2 hours in-store the day before. Unacceptable. I've lost more than a full working day due to this issue for one service request, still unresolved!
  3. Sprint tried to pin the costs of their mistakes on me. There was a miss-comm between in-store rep1 and rep2. They were slammed, it happens. However, I should not bear the large financial and time burdens of their mistake. They put me on the wrong plan and told me to eat the cost.
  4. In-store Rep 1 and Rep 2 were not able to undo their incorrect actions (revert the plan change error). They should be able to.
  5. In-store Rep 1 and Rep 2 were not able to undo their actions even with the customer support line. They shoulddefinitely be able to.
  6. Appointment delay lengths were unacceptable, likely because of broken, inefficient sales workflows.
  7. In-store Representative 3 should have heard the events that had happened, and realized where the Sprint Store had errored, vs. trying to get me to subscribe to a costly band-aid solution.
  8. Representative 3 should have acted on my behalf to resolve the severe plan mis-allocation, vs. shrugging his shoulders, providing terrible workarounds. Understandably many customers have complaints at the phone store every day--I felt this situation was clear enough to warrant better action and maturity out of him.
  9. Phone Representative agents were difficult to hear on a variety of landline phones we used in the store. This was very frustrating for myself and the in-store representatives! Best-in-class microphones for all phone service staff required!
  10. Different service agents have seemingly different abilities to handle cases? Phone Rep 1 was almost complete meeting my needs, but then she didn't call back!
  11. I shouldn't be cut-off from Phone Customer Service simply because it's taken ~1 hr to resolve my issue. Serve me please until my issue is resolved!
  12. Never on day two did I feel that Sprint valued me. And I talked to a lot of agents, kindly! Period! Except in-store representative 1 by the end of the day, who I am grateful for, despite the many other shortcomings of the events.
  13. My appointment was rendered as an incorrect time at store. Hardly a problem in the grand scheme. Automate the linking of this if it's not already done.
  14. Sprint stores should have phones readily available to their customers to dial from, especially if the in-store reps are unable to provide all the account assistance that customers need. E.g., my phone doesn't work, but you're telling me to call customer service. I'm at your store to be served by you but you're still making me dial out? This is awful.

Solutions

  • Get my plan on track, the way I want it and had agreed to make it with the in-store staff
  • Hire some industrial engineers and get your processes stream-lined from a technical and data-driven perspective. Across the board--period.
  • Empower your phone agents. Enable them to be capable and flexible
  • Empower your in-store agents. Enable them to be capable and flexible
  • Wow me. Show me that you've listened and care.

Thank you. I look forward to hearing back.