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Sprint Nightmares

Problems with Sprint cell coverage and customer service.

This is my story of the non stop problems we have had with Sprint service with our cell phones since we bought them in June 2013.  After just a few minutes of research, it became evident that not only are we not the only ones with suffering with Sprint, it’s a problem on a massive scale.  All you have to do is Google “Sprint customer service problems” and you will get page upon page of irate customers who are unhappy with the service that Sprint provides…or doesn’t provide.

Here’s a link to a story detailing how Sprint disconnected over 1,000 customers….because they contacted Customer Service too much.  Here’s a post from a customer who had similar problems to us with lack of signal and an Airave.

Here’s another link and another link to the Better Business Bureau showing Sprint has had over 32,000 complaints in the last three years.  By any stretch of the imagination, that is an incredible number.

Here are links if you want to file complaints about Sprint at the Better Business Bureau and FCCC

Anyway, back to my story.  When we bought our Sprint phones and service in June 2013, the salesman showed me a map of coverage showing our neighborhood having the strongest signal possible.  However, when we got the phones home, we couldn’t make a call.  Actually, we could sometimes start a call or take one but we couldn’t make out the voice on the other end and they usually disconnected within 30 secs.  The problem we found out was because our house is at the bottom of a hill…right in a valley.  I could walk three houses up the hill and the signal was at full strength.

After complaining to Sprint, they gave us an Airave free of charge.  An Airave is a box that is hooked up to your WIFI that strengthens the Sprint signal.  Initially this appeared to be a good solution.  However, within a few weeks, it became apparent that we were still having issues.  For example, the Airave had limited strength…we realized it was difficult to make calls upstairs, in the back bedroom, garage or on the deck.  In other words, in order to make a successful call and it not lose the signal, you had to stay in one place in the house.

Things got worse.  A few months later, we realized that we had issues with text messages and voicemails.  Basically we weren’t receiving all text messages and voicemails and some text messages we sent weren’t being received.

I work from home, so I can often go a few days without leaving the house.  Then I would leave the house and as I’m driving out of the neighborhood, all of a sudden I would have one or more voicemail messages appear on my phone. These voicemails were left in the past few days but were only pushed through once I left the house and into a stronger Sprint signal.

Sometimes we would leave voicemails for people or each other (my wife and I) and the recipient would not get them.  Same with text messages.  And if that wasn’t bad enough, another problem was that this was always random.  Sometimes we would get voicemails and text messages and for weeks or more it would seem to be working fine.  Then we would figure out it wasn’t working when someone asked if we received their text or voicemail or we got them pushed out as we drove out of the neighborhood.

We complained to Sprint.  My guess is we went into the Sprint store 4-6 times over the 18 months.  Each time we got a similar story…”they were doing upgrades or maintenance on the nearest tower or they needed to update the software on the Airave.  The difficult thing is that because the problems were random (sometimes things worked fine sometimes they didn’t with no rhyme or reason) it was impossible to tell if things were fixed or not.  So we would go home and see what happened only to find out a month or so later that we still had the same problem.

Here’s a short video of an example of our phones not working.  This was taken in the kitchen of our house after Sprint attempted to update our Airave.

The straw that broke the camels back came in mid December 2013.  We went to the Sprint store as usual complaining, they gave us a number to call and said they would give us a new updated Airave.  So the next day I spent about two hours in the morning on the phone with Sprint Customer Service…most of it on hold.  Anyway, they said we didn’t need a new Airave we just needed the firmware updated which they could do while were on hold.  This didn’t work.  In fact, it “bricked” our phones and made them unusable.

So off to the Sprint store I went.  They said to leave the phones so they could fix them.  A few hours later they called a friends phone (we gave them the number) and told us that they could only get one of our phones to make calls (no data) and the other phone they couldn’t get working at all and could we call them to discuss “options”?  So off to the Sprint store I went.  To cut a long story short, they offered to give us two different phones that weren’t as good as our phones.  I obviously wasn’t happy with this and further, had got to the point where I realized that after 18 months of continuous problems and no sign that these problems were going to be fixed or even if they could be fixed.

So after 18 months of being an extremely patient and loyal Sprint customer, and after giving them 18 months to try and solve the problems with no end in sight, I had had enough and decided that I wanted out of the contract.  After all, Sprint had had 18 months of not living up to the contract by not providing me with a reasonable signal to make phone calls, etc.  I told the assistant manager at the store of my decision and she kind of agreed with me and said that she couldn’t do anything and that I would have to contact Customer Service.  There was no way I was going home to make that call (might get cut off) so I insisted I make it at the store and that the assistant manager could tell Customer Service of the problems we have.

To cut a long story short, I was on the phone well over an hour (on hold for most of it).  When I told my story and that I wanted out of my contract, I was told it wasn’t possible.  So I asked for a manager.  I had to go through the same process once I got the manager.  He then told me he couldn’t make that decision so asked for his manager.  I again had to go through the same process of detailing our problems with a manager named Justin at 423 279 6407.  The bottom line was that he wouldn’t agree to ending the contract.  As an insult, he said we should try and sell our phones back to the Sprint store and that would cover some of the early termination fees if we decided to end our contract.

I even told him that I was so frustrated that I was going to put my story down in writing and send it to the 40,000+ soccer coaches that subscribe to our weekly email newsletters.  He didn’t seem perturbed by this at all and told me to go ahead…hence this blog post.

I was obviously angry and frustrated.  On a positive note, when they gave us our phones back, they somehow were working again so we didn’t have to have new and lesser phones.

In frustration, I went home and sent in complaints to the Better Business Bureau and the FCCC.  These are quick and easy to do.  You can do them here at these links.  Better Business Bureau and FCCC

There’s more to this story.  When I get the statement for December I see that we have two charges for $81.37.  These I find out are the fees they charged us for trying to fix our two phones after they were “bricked”.  How much of a joke is this?  Their customer service/technician, bricked our phones while trying to update our Airave.  So they are responsible for ruining our phones and then they charge us for trying to fix them…laughable but typical of my experience with Sprint.

Interestingly, I got a call a week or so after posting my BBB complaint from someone called Mike (employee number MAL8243).  I thought he might be more amenable to my story but no chance.  When he offered to try and help and see if he could troubleshoot the Airave, I told him that I didn’t think it would help.  It hadn’t helped in the past and the last time they tried it, it “bricked” our phones and I didn’t want that to happen again.  I told him we wanted out of our contract.  He said, he couldn’t do that as he was just a technician and that he would refer the matter back to the manager who would give me a call to resolve this matter.  Over a week has passed and I have received no phone call…actually that’s not necessarily true.  He could have called and left a voicemail.  I just might not have received it.