I’ve been wrestling with Sprint all day.
Come to think of it, I’ve been wrestling with them all weekend.
It all started when my boss Duncan decided he needed a new PDA. “It’d be great if it’s also a phone,” he told me, “but I can’t hear the one I’ve got.” I can empathize. I have a really hard time hearing anyone on the phone, no matter which phone…and that’s with my good ear. I can’t hear much out my right ear. Too much loud music, I guess. In Duncan’s case, it’s probably because he’s 62.
I also can’t hear Berck if he speaks any lower than in a normal conversational tone. This leads him to accuse me of ignoring him. I try to explain that, if I didn’t want to know what he was saying, why would I be asking him to repeat himself more loudly? He also gets mad at me when he’s driving and he wants me to talk on the phone for him. I can barely hear anyone on my phone with it on its loudest setting in a quiet room. I certainly can’t hear anyone with the sound of the motor going. Usually, Berck wants me to talk on his phone while the top is down too. He insists that I’m not deaf (how else could I ignore him), so I must lack some mental capacity required for using mobile phones. Conversations go something like this:
Me: “Hi! We’ll be arriving probably in about two hours.”
Other Person: “Mmmmm, hmmmmggggg, ermmmmm?”
Me: “I can’t hear what you’re saying while we’re driving, so if that’s not okay, just call back, okay?”
Other Person: “Bughhhhhmm, hehmmmmm, uhmmmmm!”
Me: “Okay, whatever! Bye!”
Berck: “What did they say?”
Me: “I don’t know. I couldn’t hear them.”
Berck: “Why not!!!”
Me: “I must be going deaf.”
Berck: “You’re not deaf! You can hear ME just fine!”
Me: “Well, you also happen to be screaming at me.”
Berck: “Fine. Hand me the @#$% phone. And if I lose concentration and drive off the side of the road because I’m talking on the cell phone, it’s your fault!”
Me: “What did you say?”
So anyway, Duncan and Michele have a plan with Sprint (“Because that’s what the kids have!”). I’ve just been struck with the inanity of calling such a scheme a “plan.” Plans involve foresight, thoughtfullness, cooperation. Sprint doesn’t seem to posess any of these qualifications. But I digress.
I should point out here that Berck and I are on a Verizon “plan.” As are all of the members of my family and of his family. It took some convincing, but all of the calls to anyone we’re related to are “in network.” We convinced them by insisting that, while all wireless phone companies were rubbish, Verizon was the least worst of them. After today, I truly believe that anyone has to be better than Sprint.
For instance: Berck and I have area codes that begin with 251, Mobile, Alabama territory. We live in Colorado Springs (719). Wouldn’t it be nice to have an area code that belonged where you lived so your friends didn’t have to dial long distance to reach you? And yet, we don’t have many people who call us from in town.
With my new promotion, however, I was suddenly using 500% more minutes than I had been within the first day, and it would be useful to have the people down the street be able to reach me without having to pay extra. It was probably going to be useful to be able to reach my people without limitation, as well.
So as I researched which PDA phone Duncan should get, Michele told me to see about adding me to their plan as well. Good idea.
I settled on the Treo 650. It’s one of two PDA’s Sprint offers and the only one that you can plug a fold up keyboard into. It’s also got speakerphone, so if Duncan couldn’t hear on the highest regular volume setting, maybe he could at least hear it on speaker. (Of course, then the rest of the room could too…)
I will add here that I called Sprint customer service a couple of times. I won’t discuss my conversation with the Pakistani sales rep who couldn’t understand my questions, in normal English, about the functions of the Treo 650. I will say that the first time I called, the automatic bitch who answers hung up on me.
So when I had decided on the 650, I called customer service again. I followed all of the stupid machine’s instructions and answered her inane questions. “What are you calling about?”
Me: “I want to see about buying a PDA.”
Automatic Bitch: “I’m sorry. I didn’t quite get that.”
Me: “Just connect me to a human being, you automatic piece of junk! I need to find out about buying a freakin’ PDA!”
AB: “Hold on a moment while I connect you to a representative.”
Me: “It’s about time!”
Operator: “Doo, dee, DEE. If you’d like to make a call…”
Finally, I got a person. She told me that, yes, I could buy a Treo 650 from the store in town; yes, I could save $75 by signing up for Internet access on it and by agreeing to a two year contract; yes, I would get $25 back if I traded in the old phone. I called up the local store just to make sure. The woman who answered assured me of all the same things. I made sure she realized I was buying it for my boss, and he would need to use his old phone over the weekend. That wouldn’t be a problem, she said, I could just bring the old phone in later.
So I drove down to the Sprint store on Saturday morning when Berck was working. I’d intended to do it on Friday, but I had too much to do. I had a heck of a time finding it. It’s “at the corner” of Vickers and Academy, but it’s not. If you drive into the shopping area at the southeast corner of the intersection, you still have to explore all of the different facets of the different strips of stripmall before you’ll find it. And that’s after I exhausted the other three corners.
When you go into a Sprint store, you’re met at the door by a “host.” It’s this person’s job to take down your information, then tell you to wander around until one of the other people is free to deal with you. “What’s your name?” he asked.
“Do you want my name or the name of the person on the account?”
“Your name is fine. Someone will call you. What’s your phone number?”
“My phone number?”
“No, the number on the account.”
Finally, Rachel called me. I told her that I needed to buy the Treo 650 for my boss, and not to activate it yet because he was still using his old one. “And I get $75 off the price if I sign up for Internet and agree to a two year contract?”
“No,” said Rachel, “That requires the primary phone user. They have to come here themselves.”
“What?!” I exclaimed, “I talked to customer service AND someone at THIS store, and they both said nothing about that! I explained to the person at this store that I would be buying it for my boss!”
“Who did you talk to?” Rachel asked. (You see how made it a point to remember HER name?)
“I don’t know!” I said, “I didn’t bother to write down her name! I didn’t think I’d have to call her as a witness!”
“Well, they shouldn’t have told you that. You can buy it for the full price now, or a primary account holder can come in, because that’s required when a contract is involved.”
I added up some numbers in my head. Duncan charges $220 an hour for his services. Michele charges 35% of the first year’s salary of anyone she places. I was getting paid $12 an hour to run errands. $75 didn’t seem worth turning around and walking out, especially when Duncan really wanted a new PDA soon. “Fine,” I said.
Today I configured Duncan’s new phone for service, which wasn’t very hard (after the A.B. told me to hold and then put me into a black hole; I called back after ten minutes of absolute silence). Then while I had the rep on the line, I asked her about adding a phone to the account. I’d been so hopping mad at the store on Saturday, I’d forgotten to ask. Besides, I still had to return Duncan’s old phone for the $25 rebate. At least I wouldn’t be out that.
“You cannot add a phone to this account. This account is limited to two phones.”
“What? Why?” Something about credit. I didn’t know what she was talking about, and I couldn’t understand her accent very well anyway. “Well,” I said, “That’s a GREAT way to drive away customers!”
Aren’t mobile phone companies always trying to get you to ADD people to your “plan”? (Do they call that “family planning”?)
I reported to Michele. “I could call back,” I said, “If there’s one thing I’ve learned while dealing with huge corporations while working for Duncan is that every time you call a customer service representative, you’re likely to get a different answer.”
She told me to go ahead and to be sure to tell them, “It sounds like we’re being discriminated against. On what basis are we being discriminated against?”
So I called back. The A.B. hung up on me, and I called back again. “I’d like to add a phone to our plan…”
“Oh, yes ma’am, let me just pull up your information. Oh, you’re limited to only two phones.”
“Because you’re in ‘Credit Class Two.'”
Continued tommorrow: WHAT THE HECK IS CREDIT CLASS TWO???