Sprint Down for the Count?

Nolan Apostle, Contributing Editor

So what is going to happen to Sprint? Associate Press Business Writer, David Twiddy wrote a great article here for you to review, but considering that I have YOU, our trusted readers best interest at hand, I will share with you my take on these Top Three Cellular Giants and why I feel I have the experience to share with you what direction to take when choosing to purchase a cellular phone company. More in a while on Sprint, but first, let me talk about the other two- AT&T and Verizon Wireless.

When our company switched from Verizon Wireless, the giant evil cellular monster (more on this in future articles), we thought our life in the world of cellular technology would get much nicer. Well, for the most part it has been a nice even cruise down the AT&T strip. We chose AT&T due to their track record, the products, their coverage- which after 2 years of testing was neck in neck with Verizon Wireless East to West, North to South, the deals they “promised” us, and of course their outstanding customer service. Which I still believe is the best in the business. I can’t honestly say our relationship with AT&T has been peaches and cream, but we have realized a few things since we switched.

First off, no matter who you get, whatever cellular technology company you chose, unless you get it in writing, don’t expect to get what some sales person promises over the phone. This includes both in Telesales and Customer Service. You can alway record the conversation, as long as you record a “voice waiver” with the customer service agent allowing you to record the conversation. There shouldn’t be any problem with that, especially considering almost every time I had to call a corporation or telecommunications company they requested to record the conversation too. Bottomline is, these companies have come to realize that no matter what is said to the customer if they don’t produce it doesn’t matter, there really is nothing we as the customer can do. And you wonder why the younger generation has become so apathetic at such a young age. Many kids first experience with “business” (besides buying ice-cream from the drivers in those noisy little trucks that beat around the neighborhood) is their cellular phone provider. How many of us have been so frustrated by our cellular phone company’s “phoney” policies? By the games they play. How they attempt and in most cases succeed in stealing our money, even if it’s only a few dollars here and there. You wonder why our country has gone downhill so quickly. You can’t just blame George Bush, because right on his heels is Corporate America, and ladies and gentlemen, THEY DON’T CARE!

Have you ever tried to “confirm” your order via email or some other type of written confirmation? You know, just so everything you think you are getting is really what you will be receiving at the price you believe it to be? Of course not, it is not in their written or unwritten policy to let you do that. Even when you draft a letter of complaint to the company via the web, if you blatantly layout the facts with proof of what actually happened (some type of paper trail), one of three things will happen; they will either:

  1. Ignore your letter
  2. Lose your letter, or
  3. Send you a standard boiler-plate response without any actual action taken to repair the relationship
So as consumers why do we allow this to continue? I had 6 cellphones at one time managed by myself and an assistant, they were all Verizon Wireless. Verizon made mistakes on my bills every month. When I would review the bills and request the changes they would lie about certain types of services offered or not offered, or that I would have or one thing or another. They would promise to make changes, then no changes were made. They would promise me credits, but then none were made. They lied every month to me about my service, and how other members would use the service. We caught them double billing our phone calls in several different ways. This was criminal, all of it! It continues to happen, but nothing happens to the companies.

Really though, this was nothing though compared to the amount of money they conceivably earn from over-charging their customers over the years. I have a friend who owns a medium size Web-Hosting and ISP company. Every month for years he would review his bills from Verizon Wireless, and every month he would find hundreds of dollars in errors that he would need to have them correct. On a busy month, he might find a Thousand Dollars in errors! Yes, you read it right, $1000.00 dollars in errors form Verizon Wireless! It’s disgusting just to think about it, and even though we haven’t been with Verizon for over a year now, it still hardens my heart to think that many of you still pull your hard earned cash out of your cookie jars to pay the piper his unfair share!

OK, enough publicity for the VW of cellphone companies, back to AT&T. Aside from us not receiving the discounts they promised (and yes of course, the customer service rep did tell me that he understands how I feel, but there was nothing he could do to help me), everything else with them has been A-OK! So how does Sprint fit into all this, beside the fact that the rumor has it they may not be Sprint for too long? A very close friend of the family who I will never forget, one of my best friends dad- Mr. Gumina. He was a smart businessman, a great father, a caring husband, and for many years he was one of the top salesman for John Hancock Insurance, he once told me when I was a kid, “If you like a company and want to buy their stock, watch them, use them, call them, interact with them, learn about who they are and how they run their business, this will tell you if they are good or if the just aren’t worth the paper you’re reading this on”. You know, he was right, every company I ever made money on in the stock market I made it by watching them and getting involved with them and “feeling good” about who they were and where they were going. I was a beta tester for AOL way back when. They made me and my family good money. Why did I invest in them, because I knew them inside out.

One of our business associates recently purchased us Sprint equipment, extra phone service and wireless high speed network cards for our laptops. Thus our beginning adventures with Sprint. What we have learned about them in the last couple months is scary to say the least. It is hard to say whether they would be better off without customer service because we are having a hard time finding theirs. But I can say that in a very short period of time I have been stressed out to unbelievable heights because of the straight forward ability to just blatantly lie without even trying to hide it. As a consumer it is very difficult to allow any company to take advantage of you anyway, right? So why should we let our cellphone carriers get away with it. Why do we continue to allow them rape us and not do anything about it?

Think about this scenario that happened to us just last week- I was suppose to have some equipment overnighted to me, It wasn’t and then, in the middle of the second day when I was to receive the equipment I asked about the equipment and why it still has not been delivered even though I expected it the day before by 10:30am. 4 different reps gave me 4 different answers to the same question, and quite frankly none of them were right. In fact, when I ordered the equipment the telesales lady promised me each time I expressed how important it was for me to receive the equipment OVERNIGHT. I even told her why I needed it so soon. I reminded her 4 times. This brings me back to Mr. Gumina’s ideology, “….watch them, use them, call them, interact with them, learn about who they are and how they run their business”. Wise words to live by, not just for Sprint, or even all of your telecommunication needs, but for all of your purchases that will effect you as a consumer, as a business person, as a mother or father or sister or brother, or whatever relationship whatever it is you are buying, however it might affect your relationships in any way, remember his words to learn about the companies you will do business with.

Now if you haven’t already done so, do yourself a favor and read the article by AP’s Dave Twiddy, it’s short, but it will give you some good insight as to how Sprint might or might not survive and how some of other companies are viewed by the telecommunications industry.

Good luck and please feel free to share with us your stories and experiences, both good and bad with the Cellular provider companies.

To note, I have been requested to add T-Mobile to the list to make it a “Top 4 List”. I asked why, just because they exist? I was that they have a fairly large audience, wide international coverage and they spend a lot of advertising dollars in the USA. So my response is this,

“I say hogwash to that; T-Mobile is not worth wasting my time to discuss their abilities, or might I say, inabilities to function as a genuine cellular phone company.”

Even though I have also personally tested their services just as thoroughly as I have tested the other three, I have found their despicable and intolerable actions not worth mentioning, at least here, but maybe in another forum at some other point in time (and surely one day, who knows I might draft up a web-book just for your musing, but until then, no way).

Not to leave you hanging onto thin air, I’ll add this. T-Mobile was barely a nice company and even as I began to walk away from their kiosk upon receipt of the equipment, I overheard strange mumblings from the two sales reps behind the counter. Then for the 2+ months we tested their services everything about them only became worse. From customer service to their network hangups, to their costly, nickel and diming (actually with them it was more like diming and dollaring), to them adding charges on my bill for calls that were dropped or never actually completed. What should your primary reason be for not wanting to purchase a T-Mobile phone service- their coverage is HORRIBLE, absolutely DEPLORABLE, I am told just as bad as Mobile PCS, at least compared to the Big Three, and their customer service is basically non-existent. No more on T-Mobile, but if you do a Google Search for them I am sure you will find many stories about their services.

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