Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fighting Sprint, and winning

I'm not big on complaining except when I'm not getting what I paid for. Then I think it's an obligation. So two days ago when I stopped getting data on my BlackBerry, I was pissed.

I'm perpetually pissed about my cell phone service anyway because I think service providers like mobile companies, cable companies and the like are the devil. Their business is based on getting "incremental revenue" from each customer -- code language for how much they can pad their margins by charging you more while giving you less. It's why the cable company snatches away two or three channels a year while raising your bill and why those phony "fees" are tacked on to your cell bill every month.

So I called Sprint to complain about my data. They told me to remove the battery and reset the phone but I asked them to review my bill anyway. I rarely get an actual bill from Sprint, but they always hit me with a late fee and have even turned off my service for a day. What I found was an overly-inflated bill with all kinds of extra charges. The worst was an $18 "activation fee" charged to me when I upgraded my phone last month.

Paying a charge to "activate" a line that's already been active since 2008, on a phone that I've already paid for? Absolutely not. After making it clear that I was very unhappy with that position, I got some action: the fee was removed. But it makes me think twice about upgrading my phone again in a year or so: will they try tacking on the same fee?

And on top of that, there are the myriad other fees they tack on for no good reason:
-- a "spending limit program charge" of $4.99
--a late fee of $4.46 (this was another month when no bill came)
--"Sprint surcharges" of $5.64
-- "Government fees and taxes" of $9.66.

If you're adding, that's an extra $24.75 tacked onto my bill. Talk about "incremental revenue". I wouldn't be surprised if cell phone companies were the next in line for a bailout.

But in any event, I did win a minor victory in getting the $18 activation-for-a-line-that-was-already-activated fee removed. And the lesson I learned is one that applies to everyone: complaining is worth is when you're not getting what you paid for.

image: Gregory Szarkiewicz/

1 comment:

Converting A Spendthrift said...

I had the worst customer service with Sprint - missing bills, obnoxious fees, being re-billed for charges I spent hours with customer service reps trying to have taken off. I spent 36 months with Sprint when I only intended to be there 24 months.

I was so glad to be away from Sprint.