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Sprint / Nextel

5 Ratings: -0.6
Wireless cell phone carrier

Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE: S) is a telecommunications company based in Overland Park, Kansas. The company owns and operates Sprint, the third largest wireless telecommunications network in United States, with 48.9 million customers, behind Verizon … see full wiki

1 review about Sprint / Nextel

Sprint / Nextel Uses Unethical Business Practices

  • Dec 28, 2010
  • by
First Some History

I got my first wireless number with Sprint in June of 2002.  I am a very loyal customer and I always pay my bill on time.  Everything went well with Sprint until Spring of 2008, when they changed their "billing system".  All of a sudden, my bill went up for no reason.  They eliminated the legacy plan that I was on when they updated their billing system and apparently didn't have anything equivalent in the new system. 

Since I was on month-to-month at the time, I called to cancel my service and change carriers.  I was looking to upgrade my phone anyway and add some lines for the kids.  The Sprint cancellation department was able to work something out that would be a comparable plan with what I had and a reasonable price for the additional lines.  After a number of billing problems subsequent to the new contract, everything was sorted out after a couple of months and running smoothly again.  So smoothly that I upgraded the phones and renewed my contract this Spring.

Mid-Contract 50% Price Increase

My monthly bill almost never varied more than a dollar, because I had a high number of shared minutes and never came close to using them.  When my September bill came, it was more than 50% higher than the usual amount.  There was obviously some kind of mistake.  I called customer service and was informed that Sprint had changed their policy and I would no longer be receiving discounts on my 3rd and 4th lines.  I was told there was nothing I could do about the change, but that even at the new level my charges were much less than I could get from other carriers.

Since I was obviously not impressed with the new deal I was getting, the agent offered a "one-time" credit for my account.  I asked what I would be committing to by accepting the one-time credit.  He said I would be renewing my contract at the new levels for another 2 years.  A quick calculation revealed that the one-time credit would only cover 3 months of the increases, so by accepting the credit I would actually be signing up for an additional 3 months of increases beyond the 18 months left on my contract,  I declined the offer and asked to speak to a supervisor.

13 Days to Find a New Carrier

I was informed by the supervisor that Sprint would, as a courtesy, waive the early termination fee on my contract, but that I must cancel my plan by October 12th, thirteen days away.  This would be very difficult to accomplish in less than two weeks, because I had a busy schedule and my kids were in school.  I said that I did not feel this was a reasonable time-frame to obtain a new carrier.

The supervisor asserted that Sprint had informed me of this increase two months prior on page 2 of my bill and, therefore, I had plenty of time to respond to the policy change.  Page 2 of a Sprint bill is where Sprint typically places all of their self-promotional material and offers on the backside of the first page.  I retrieved my previous bill and include here a scan of the notification I received from Sprint about their change in policy.

As you can see, there is no mention of a 50% increase in price.  I guess I was supposed to infer the amount of the increase from the named discounts.  Even if I had read the backside of my bill containing all the spammy offers, I would have never expected to see a greater than 50% increase in my bill.  And there is certainly no mention of a limited amount of time to get out or implicitly accept the new terms.

I told the supervisor that I was not being given enough time to change carriers and that I would like to contest the policy change.  She was not very pleased that I didn't want to accept the one-time credit that I was previously offered and encouraged me to accept it.  When I declined again, she assured me that i would receive a call within 72 hours to respond to my concern about the limited time-frame.

Since i called on a Thursday and did not receive a call by Monday, I figured that the 72 hours meant "three business days".  When I didn't received a call on Tuesday, I decided to call back myself on Wednesday.  Now I had only 6 days left to change my carrier according to their arbitrary deadline.

Sprint Chose to Breach Their Own Contract

The supervisor that I talked to on Wednesday the 6th informed me that the deadline was actually the end of my billing cycle which was October 24th.  So I really had 18 more days to change my carrier.  At this point, I was getting concerned because I had received different information from three separate people.  I knew I wanted to cancel my contract, but I didn't want to take until the 24th if the person who said the 12th was correct.  After expressing my concern, the supervisor assured me that, because Sprint was in breach of contract, they would honor the courtesy waiver of the early termination fee.  Although I asked for this in writing, the supervisor was unable to provide it.  But she said that the waiver offer was noted in my file.

The New Deal Wasn't Such a Deal

Unbeknownst to Sprint, I already had a line with a different carrier, so I wasn't too worried about being able to beat their "deal".  I could simply add new lines with my other carrier and share the minutes I was already paying for, but that would involve the hassle of investigating and selecting new phones and service levels.  This was especially annoying since we had just gotten new Sprint phones six months earlier.  Although the new phones were only priced about $50 each, "after rebate," the tax associated with the phones far exceeded the purchase price.  So by being forced to change carriers, I was now out more than $400 for phones that I had only used for six months.

I was originally concerned about other Sprint customers in my "canceled-discounts" situation who did not have another contract on which to add additional lines.  They would have to establish a new shared minutes contract.  Based on what the first customer service agent told me, I thought it might be difficult to establish a comparable contract with a different carrier.  But, in fact, it would be no problem to match or beat Sprint's offering.  Sprint charges $20 for each additional line, whereas other carriers charge $9.99.  So even if I did not have my existing contract with another carrier, I would have easily been able to find a comparable or better contract than the new "deal" with Sprint.

I switched carriers.  Although the waiver was noted in my account by a supervisor, I was still charged the early termination fees.  It took two more phone calls to get these nearly $800 in fees reversed from my account.  I was told a corporate vice-president had to authorize the reversal, so it could not be done immediately.  But the charges were finally reversed and I am now "free and clear" of Sprint.

Sprint Gouges Its Best Customers

So, in the end, it worked out ok for me.  I had to waste hundreds of dollars on Sprint phones, only to buy new phones again six months later.  But I was able to able to achieve something cheaper than my original pre-policy-change contract with Sprint!  It won't recoup the wasted phone money, but I have a better carrier with better service now.  That was the best I could do.  It was better than paying the 50% increase for 18 months.  But Sprint's breach of contract cost me hundreds of dollars.

At least, I was able to get out.  I feel sorry for the many that probably accepted the "one-time credit" and signed up for 2 years of the inflated charges.  If less than one out of three did what I did, then Sprint's policy change was effective at increasing their revenues at the expense of their most loyal and long-time customers.

It is unethical for Sprint to breach their own contract.  They did so, because they knew they could get away with it and increase their revenues.  Most people probably accepted the "one-time credit," because they didn't realize it wasn't really in their best interest.  Especially for people like me who had recently purchased new phones, it may have been cost-prohibitive to switch carriers and buy new phones, even if they were inclined to.  Sprint obviously realizes this.  The hassle, sunk costs, and "one-time credit" offer were probably enough to get the vast majority of people to accept Sprint's breach of contract.  Now all of these people have voluntarily entered into a detrimental new contract as a result of Sprint's breach.  This is an oppressive business practice and I encourage all Sprint customers to abandon this carrier as soon as their current contracts are expired.

I do not do business with corporations that do not honor their own contracts.

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December 30, 2010
sprint is deceptive. they never told me that mobile hotspot was an extra 30$ for my phone and made it seem like that feature was included in the package I was getting. others have felt the same way and there is an online message board devoted to that topic.
December 30, 2010
LOL, I forgot that you were on it. Yeah, that sucks.
December 30, 2010
Whoa, this is probably the reason why I don't know anyone on Sprint/Nextel. Thanks for exposing them!
December 29, 2010
Wow! I would've been incredibly concerned that they weren't going to send you a written copy of their verbal promise or a copy of the phone recording for your records. They even admitted they were in breach of contract and then, to charge you those exorbitant fees is ludicrous. I'm sorry you had to go through all this but, glad that you shared it with the rest of us!
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