I ranted earlier today about Sprint’s customer service dystopia. It got worse. I decided waiting another 2 to 4 days for a phone was untenable. I called customer service again. Here’s how it went down:
me: Can you just put me straight through to escalations?
Sprint Customer Service: What are you calling about, sir?
me: My desire to speak to escalations.
Sprint Customer Service: What is the problem you’re having, sir?
me: Currently, the problem is that you won’t put me through to escalations. But since you’re being persistent, I’ll give you my story. (I tell her the whole story) So now, what I want is to go to my local Sprint store and get a new phone. Like now. I can’t wait another 4 days.
Sprint Customer Service: Sir, I believe I can help you with that. Let me call your local store and the insurance company and I’ll get right back with you. Can you hold for 5 minutes?
15 minutes later
Sprint Customer Service: Sir, I have the insurance company on the other line and I believe I can get the phone to you in 1 or 2 days instead of 2 or 4.
me: That’s not what I asked for. I’d like to go to my local store and get a new phone now.
Sprint Customer Service: If you go to the store it will cost you to buy a new phone.
me: Obviously I don’t want to buy a new phone. I want mine replaced. If you can’t help me with that, then this conversation is pointless.
Sprint Customer Service: Well, that’s your choice, sir. Is there anything else I can do for you today?
me: Yes. You can put me through to a supervisor like I asked.
Sprint Customer Service: Okay sir. One moment and I’ll see if I can connect you with a supervisor at the insurance company.
me: No. I asked for escalations. I want a Sprint customer service supervisor. The insurance company is not going to be able to facilitate my going to the store and getting a new phone.
Sprint Customer Service: Oh, okay. I’ll put you through to a supervisor now. Can you hold for a moment?
30 seconds later.
Recorded Voice: We’re sorry that we cannot take your call at this time. Please try your call again later. Thank you for calling Sprint.
After staring, slack-jawed, at the phone for a moment, I pulled up a browser and went to The Consumerist. At that time, the post at the top of the page was entitled, “Poor Reception? ‘Go To The Hilltop’ Sprint Tells Customer“. So I emailed my post to the editor, Ben Popken. I haven’t heard back from him, but I’m sure he gets 500,000 similar emails daily.
That helped to arouse the gumption to try Sprint one more time. So I called the ostensibly “special” phone number that Sprint made available to Consumerist readers: 703-433-4401. It turns out that this is just the number for escalations. By this time it was after 5pm CST. I had been living the customer service dream for over two hours. The escalations people weren’t there after 5pm CST, so I called the main customer service number again. This time I demanded escalations immediately again:
me: I’d like to speak to escalations straightaway.
Sprint Customer Service: What are you calling about, sir?
me: (thinking I should have expected this – I tell her the whole story)
Sprint Customer Service: The phone that was sent to you, I think I can get it activated. Would you like me to try.
me: Well, if you think you can…
We try. It doesn’t work.
Sprint Customer Service: Let me ask the insurance company why they would send you a phone that was assigned to someone else. Can you hold for a moment.
me: Well. I’ve been down this path before and I was hung up on last time. Maybe you could just put me straight through to escalations?
Sprint Customer Service: Well how would you like this resolved.
I repeated my desire to get a new phone from the store like right freakin’ now.
Sprint Customer Service: That will cost you, sir.
me: I’m really starting to lose my cool here. I don’t want to yell at you, really I don’t. I thought I explained myself clearly. I want the store to replace this phone. I’ve been a customer for years. I want this to be made right.
Sprint Customer Service: (stammering) Well…I…uh. Sir, why don’t you just take the phone to your local store. They’ll take care of you.
me: But I’ve already been there. That’s how I ended up in all this mess.
Sprint Customer Service: Sir, I think if you just take it to the store and tell them the problem, they’ll take care of you.
So I call my local store and ask for a manager. They don’t have one in the store, they’ve got a “manager-on-duty” – a sort of manager pro tempore. They make a reservation for me to see him at 7:15pm.
This is where this story finally gets good.
I get to the store and after about a 15 minute wait, I meet John P. Nesselhauf, Lead Consultant, Retail Management. This guy treats me like a human right from the start. He’s apologetic. I can tell he gets treated poorly all day and yet somehow still wants to help. I’m amazed. He calls “inside sales support” and gets the background on the phone I received from Asurion.
He explains that he has no idea how the insurance company came into possession of this phone, but it does in fact belong to someone else; someone who has a seasonal plan. He explains that it’s sometimes military who get seasonal plans, so this poor person could be in Iraq right now and when they come home they won’t have a phone. He’s at a loss as to how Asurion could have sent me the phone or even come into possession of it in the first place.
Meanwhile the “inside sales support” guy credits back my deductible. Yay. Then John offers to swap out my old damaged phone for a refurbished phone right on the spot. I was ready to cancel my service before I walked into the store and he saved it singlehandedly. He was authentically kind in spite of the fact that the customer before me was cursing at him. There is little in the way of operational realities at Sprint that I find at all worthy, but this one person managed to keep me as a customer. It’s amazing what a difference one person can make even in the face of an entire edifice of abject idiocy.
I’m calling John’s boss tomorrow and demanding that John get a raise or a promotion or something.