Sucheta Dalal :Consumer is no longer king -- more likely to be axed
Sucheta Dalal

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Consumer is no longer king -- more likely to be axed  

July 16, 2007

For all those who are harassed by marketing calls of companies and can do nothing about it, here is now. The telecom giant Sprint of the US has set a new standard – it is apparently okay if corporate entities endlessly harass consumers, but you turn the tables on them by badgering them with questions and calls, they are liable to cut the connection! In a seemingly incredible development, Sprint has actually cut over 2000 customers off its list because the company is irked with their calls and questions.
In the brave new, post 9/11 America, the customer is no longer king, at least in the airlines. Only last week we learnt of the bizarre episode of a mother and child being offloaded from a flight because the Flight Attendant wanted the baby medicated to stop it from babbling. Now customers who complain lose their phone connection even though the telecom provider is not exactly known for its excellent complaint redressal mechanism. Read the story posted by  
-Sucheta Dalal
Sprint: Don't Call Us, We'll Call You
By David Wood
July 10, 2007
In April 2007, an MSN Money-Zogby Poll showed that the winner of the “Customer Service Hall of Shame” went to wireless provider Sprint -- not an award that any company would want.
Now, irked by irksome customers and complainers, Sprint is striking back -- by cutting off users who call customer service 25 times per month or more.
One of those users is Rene, an eight-year Sprint customer.
“I just got a new phone and plan five weeks ago, and to thank me, Sprint sends me a letter saying that my service is being terminated at the end of July.”
Rene, who goes by the name MissDiva on the forum, had to call Sprint due to several billing errors. Some calls to customer service were dropped, which meant she had to call them back. Each call was a black mark against her.
“If they would have fixed the problem on the first call, I wouldn’t have to place a second call. This is how they repay me for being a loyal customer?” Rene fumed.
To add insult to injury, Rene’s boyfriend repeatedly receives calls from Sprint asking him to add another line, even though he tells them not to call. It seems it’s fine for Sprint to call often, but a customer dare not call Sprint on a regular basis, he said.
Rene said she has tried to resolve the issue but has had no success. “Sprint said they would call me back within 48 hours, but 4 days passed and still no call.”
According to Sprint, approximately 1,000 customers received the termination letter. The letter says that any remaining balance will be wiped out and the subscriber won’t pay an early termination fee.
That's a relatively low number, considering the constant stream of Sprint customers who complain( to that their repeated calls to Sprint fail to resolve service and billing problems.
Among the 2,234 Sprint complaints received by ConsumerAffairs.Com:
Judith of Tiburon , Calif. , who is hearing-impaired, said she began calling Sprint/Nextel in March to change her one-month-old phone because she could not hear its ring.
"I purchased another phone at a Sprint store and was told that I could use the phone on the hybrid account. That turned out not to be true and I've been charged for 2 separate accounts ever since" despite numerous calls to Sprint, Judith said.
Diana of Altamonte Springs , Fla. , said Sprint cut off her service for non-payment even though she pays her bill every month through Embarq, her local landline carrier.
"Numerous calls to Sprint PCS customer NO service has resulting in nothing but frustration. They insist that I owe them money which I have already paid to Embarq," she said.
Yadira of Bronx , N.Y. , said she called repeatedly to follow-up on the arrival of a replacement phone. "I get disconnected or they'll place me on hold and completely forget that I’m there," she said.
In a masterpiece of bad timing, shortly after mailing the termination notices, Sprint released a statement concerning its new partnership with NASCAR.
The Sprint/NASCAR press release says, in part, “This is an evolutionary time for Sprint Nextel's brand. Our new brand campaign focuses on the importance of speed in people's daily lives and illustrates their ability to get information where they want it, when they want it.”
Unless they have to call Sprint for it, that is.

-- Sucheta Dalal