Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Why Sprint should be careful dumping customers

The news today said SPRINT is letting go of a thousand of their customers for calling in to customer service too much. No I'm not kidding. In their ultra competitive industry they are choosing to let customers go rather than service them.

This led me to ruminate on the service I have received as a cell phone customer. I had my first cell phone from AT&T - I had no real service problems with them. I was lazy and just kept my service with them years after my contract was up. (despite many offers to change).

Then one day I was at a AT&T cellphone stand at the Sam's club and picked up a brochure. I decided to call the customer service number and ask what kind of pricing I could get to extend my contract. The agent on the other end of the phone gave me pricing but it was exactly the same as in the brochure.

I said "I've been a customer for years, paying on time, never leaving or negotiating another price and you're offering me the same as if I walked in off the street?". The agent said "yep". I said "well I think I may cancel my account because that is ridiculous" Then she said the magic words, the words no customer service rep should say to someone threatening to leave. "that's your choice Sir!" I was shocked "you mean to tell me that you don't care if I leave you as a customer?" and she said "That's your choice Sir" - so I said "Cancel my account starting today".

Thats exactly what I did. (I didn't have a cell phone for 2 years until I was stranded out front of a friend's house and they couldn't hear me ringing the bell)
I wound up getting an account at Verizon after doing some research. Their service has been pretty good until recently.

I got a call at home from a Verizon sales rep offering me a new chocolate phone if I agreed to a 2 year contract. The phone would be $40. There was nothing wrong with my phone at all - it just seemed time for a new one. I signed up over the phone and received the phone. This is where all the fun began.

First the chocolate phone is a real lemon. It sucks in about every way possible. People can't hear me, it dials people when I don't want it to, the ringer turns off in my pocket, the camera is horrible, it doesn't register when you want to delete messages etc etc etc - it is the worst phone. (its cute - lots of compliments)

Next thing I know I get a bill for $150!!!!! They said I didn't return some paperwork they had sent so I was being reverted to the 6 month pricing. (I didn't receive this paperwork.) I was told I had to go into a store to sign the paperwork. (This is after I was verbally recorded agreeing to the deal via phone and unwrapping the phone with a warning saying I was agreeing to the deal)

I went to the store and they told me I had to do it via phone. They connected me via phone and I told them the phone doesn't work anyway so I wanted to forget the contract then. They said no deal it was past 30 days so even though the product is horrible I cannot return it. To get the $150 charge off my bill I had to argue with them on the phone. They wanted to credit me only a partial amount, kept telling me my Chocolate phone's value was such a special price etc. I had to keep saying "It doesn't work and You're getting a 2 year contract out of the deal and I'm getting nothing. I'm getting a bad phone!"

They finally credited me the $150.00 but did nothing for my inconvenience, aggravation or frustration. (I wish they'd choose to dump me!)

In the meantime I'm getting mail from AT&T every day trying to get me back as a customer. They wouldn't have lost me in the first place had they done the right thing. These cell companies should know the value of losing a customer and trying to gain a new one.

All these cell companies need to realize - how they treat their customers will come back to them twofold. When I boycott a company they are dead to me - I recently changed my landline service from AT&T (formerly Ameritech) to my cable company. I have had Ameritech my whole life but thanks to AT&T's purchase they no longer have my business. They won't get me back. Why?

Because their Customer Service rep said "That's your choice Sir".

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