Saturday, March 18, 2006

electronics: the Sprint service shaft

The Sanyo MM-9000 do anything phone would not go into camera or video capture mode, so we brought it to the nearby Sprint PCS store, and also to get the latest firmware for the Samsung sph-i500 old-but-great Palm OS phone. There was no technician at the back (uh-oh), just a security guy (uh-oh!) who wouldn't talk to us and sent us to sales in front (uh-oh!!).

1. Manager Thuy Bui refuses to upgrade the firmware on the Samsung unless I pay Sprint $15, though in response to my PDAPhoneHome post some users have gotten it for free or paid and had the charge removed.

2. Thuy refuses to even look at the broken Sanyo phone. Sprint will only service your phone if you sign up for their Equipment Replacement Program, otherwise they make you contact the manufacturer for service! This despite the printed (and still online) manual for the phone specifically stating
For a period of one (1) year from the date of purchase, Sprint will, at its option, either pay the parts and labor charges to any authorized PCS® Phone service facility to repair or replace a defective product...
This is unbelievable to me, but common knowledge over at SprintUsers forum. Where's a lawyer when you need one? (In responding to my post others comment on Thuy's bad attitude.)

3. On my latest bill I see a "Handset Upgrade Fee" of $36. Apparently Sprint charges you to update their system when you buy a new phone. But the Radio Shack salesperson never said there would be a fee to use the Sanyo MM-9000, he only told us about the $75 discount for existing customers replacing a year-old phone. I called Sprint billing inquires and a very-hard-to-understand "Cathy" said this is an activation fee when you upgrade your phone, but she would take it off my bill.

Apparently there are a lot of clueless users who waste technicians' time, and there are people who abuse or deliberately break their phone to get a replacement (often cooler) model, so Sprint wants to charge for any kind of service. I do neither but I get shafted, warranty be damned.

I can't easily take my business elsewhere, people move to Sprint from Verizon and AT&T to get better customer service, like this user.

The modus operandi of many companies charging you a monthly fee (cable, cellphone, etc.) is turning into "We'll shaft you in multiple ways, hide it in the monthly billing, but then if you're willing to spend 20-50 minutes on the phone after the fact complaining, you can probably get the charges removed from your bill"

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