Sprint Customer Service Needs Work

Yesterday, Sprint announced that the new cell phone I want, the Samsung MM-A900, was available for purchase at sprint.com and at their stores. Well, the phone isn’t available online and calling them results in them not having a clue. I took a gamble and went out to another Sprint store today (the closest one is 10 minutes away and they had nothing yesterday, so I went 20 minutes away). I got to the store and found out that they had 2 phones (I basically had to dance around if I was a new subscriber/adding a line just to find out if they had the phone). Great, so maybe I could buy one. Unfortunately they would only sell it if I was a new subscriber or activated a new line as they have to meet quotas. So here I am a customer of 6 years that currently has 6 lines on Sprint and am paying $165 per month and they won’t let me shell out $350 for a new phone (I’m not eligible for a rebate and I wouldn’t take it as it would extend my contract). What kind of customer service is that? The guy at the store said if he had 10, he’d sell me one. My hope is that Radio Shack gets them tomorrow and I don’t have to deal directly with Sprint. Why can’t corporate headquarters make sure that phone stock is available when they make a press release and why can’t they tell stores that they should try to keep customers? Customer service says that it is cheaper to keep a customer than to gain a new one.If I didn’t have such a good plan with Sprint and we already have the phones, I’d almost consider switching. However, I’m sure customer service is pretty poor in the whole industry.

San Diego Union Tribune – Not worth the paper it’s printed on

I’ve lived in a number of cities and had the opportunity to read newspapers daily in some of the cities. The more I read the San Diego Union Tribune, the more I believe it is one of the worst papers I’ve ever read (even worse than USA Today). For starters, they put editorials on the front page; I learned when I was on the high school newspaper that editorials shouldn’t go on the front page. Second, they put stories that are fluff stories on the front page. A few months ago, there was an article about Rejection Hotline on the front page even though nothing was new about it. This morning’s paper (Sunday) had an article about the city attorney. While the article, itself, was OK, it wasn’t breaking news as it followed the city attorney through a typical day and mentioned that it was done in September.

Furthermore, the newspaper has frequent mistakes, such as an article today that said: “…a member of the SDSU homecoming court who road in the parade in a white convertible.” I almost busted out laughing at this mistake. Does anyone proofread there? Granted spell check wouldn’t catch it, but reading it would. The newspaper uses a lot of wire reports and most of the real news isn’t from their own reporters. While this isn’t really a bad thing, I got most of the same information on the news with the same twist the evening before.

I haven’t mentioned that the Republican bias is seen throughout the paper. It is very disturbing to have to wade through the bias and poor writing to get information out of the paper. Last year, they put a grotesque picture on the front page which was completely unnecessary and in poor taste. We almost cancelled out subscription then, but my wife likes the Sunday paper and likes certain sections during the week. At this point, I say that the only reason we keep getting the paper is so that the dog has something to do in the morning as his job is to run outside and retrieve the paper (yes, he actually does it, except for Sunday because the paper is too big).

DJs on Sirius

I’m not sure why Sirius needs DJs to annoy us. The song title and artist is already displayed on the screen, we certainly don’t need to hear someone spout it off. Some of the DJs are tolerable, but one in particular, Madison, is extremely annoying. I sent Sirius some email about it and haven’t heard back (now that is surprising, isn’t it). My wife got very fed up with this DJ and also contacted Sirius. However, her message to Sirius was just too funny:You suck! If I wanted to hear a DJ talk, I’d listen to my local radio station. Shut up and play music!! I really don’t care what you did with your cousbin over the weekend. PLAY MORE MUSIC!!! LESS TALK!!!

Fake sale?

Yesterday I went to purchase a new office chair. I was looking at the Herman Miller Aeron chair, but the salesman at The Healthy Back store pointed me to another chair (same price) that was more adjustable and had a more comfortable seat. Since it was their special “pop the balloon” sale, I got to pop a balloon to see what discount I got. I got 15% off which amounted to $130 or so off…not bad. However, when I went home and happened to check their website, I found that the chair I just bought was even cheaper than I paid. They matched the price and refunded the difference. However, the 15% off turned out to be a joke, at least for what I bought.

United States Postal Service

In some ways, the USPS amazes me…mail gets delivered to my house almost everyday without me having to pay to receive it. However, at times, the inability to do the simple task of delivering my mail annoys me. A few weeks ago I noticed that our normal carrier wasn’t delivering the mail and mail was coming at odd times (like 5:30 pm) when it normally comes around noon everyday (I can hear the letter carrier put the mail in the mailbox that’s next to our front door). Then I noticed the replacement carrier not wearing a uniform and then was confused about where the mailbox was on a neighbor’s house. This neighbor’s house has the same layout as ours and the front door/mailbox are in the same spot. Not rocket science to find it. We also started getting mail for someone else that was in a different zipcode about 10 miles away; same street address, different street. On Tuesday, I had it with this mess as we got mail for both our neighbors (one on the same street, one on a different street) and called to file a complaint. Yesterday, we got a note in our mailbox from our normal carrier; she was on vacation for a few weeks and apologized for the mess that was created. She said that the replacement carrier is the worst she has seen in her 16 years with the USPS. I’m glad that the regular carrier is back and maybe mail delivery will be back to normal.

This isn’t my first run in with the USPS. When I lived in Oregon, I moved once and kept getting mail forwarded to me that wasn’t mine. After a bunch of calls, I found out that the way the coding for forwarding worked was based on some combination of part of the street address and zipcode; someone else’s forwarding got confused with mine. I finally stopped my forwarding order to fix that problem. Next, I didn’t have any furniture in the front of my house and after about 8 months of getting mail without problems, the post office stopped delivering mail completely. The letter carrier thought the house was vacant. I got it started again, but then it stopped again for the same reason. I got tired of that. Luckily I finally moved and didn’t have to deal with that again.

How hard can it be to sort mail and deliver it? Must be harder than I think.

Sprint PCS

I have my ups and downs with Sprint PCS. I’ve had coverage with them for 6 years and am on a decent rate plan with plenty of minutes. I’ve added my whole family to the plan and they share my minutes. It works out well for everyone except for me as I have to fight Sprint almost every month. Recently I noticed that 2 of my phones had contracts that I didn’t agree to adding. After calling Sprint to get the contracts corrected and getting very frustrated, I put the issue aside and said forget about it. I don’t plan on leaving Sprint, but I don’t like contracts on principal. The other day I sent Sprint email and they “corrected” the contracts, but they were still wrong. On the second try, they managed to get the contract correct on 1 phone (I forgot that we had rebates on the last new phone we got for that line, so there is 1 year left in the contract) and removed the contract on the other phone. Amazing that they finally got it right; I always thought email was less effective than phone, but I guess threatening legal action and threatening to contact the attorney general got that issue resolved quickly. It’s kind of amazing that they were able to remove the contract on one line, but still haven’t been able to remove the contract on my primary line when someone at Sprint switched my plan without my knowledge (they switched it back, but couldn’t remove the contract).

If my rate plan wasn’t so good, I’d switch in a minute. However, I hear that everyone has problems with their carriers. What can we do other than not use mobile phones.

Customer service?

We use MCI for our phone service including their voicemail. When we have voicemail, we get the stutter dial tone and our phone blinks an LED indicating we have messages. Well, this light and stutter tone are stuck on. I called MCI and explained the situation. While I was on the line, I also brought up an issue where I’m no longer receiving email notification when we receive voicemail (very handy when we’re out as I have my server send a text message to my phone). After spending a few minutes trying to explain about the email feature (it’s a feature of the phone service), I gave up and said just to solve the first problem. I was then transferred to the “technical department” (which was where I thought I was when I navigated through the menus) and after being on hold for awhile was told that this issue would be resolved in 24-72 hours. To top it off, the first person asked if I was calling about our old phone number. You’d think by now they’d know that we cancelled that number over a year ago. It would be nice if customer service folks actually had some clue about the products/services they offer.

I guess we’ll wait and see what happens with this issue and then I’ll see if I want to battle the other issue.

Home Depot

I went to the closest Home Depot today to get some low voltage boxes and covers for my home audio system (I managed to pull 4 runs of cable today!) and couldn’t fit a 12 port, 2 gang wall plate. I asked an associated if he could check to see if another store had them before I wasted my time and gas going there. He said that usually all the Home Depots carry the same products and he had never seen it before. He looked it up on the computer and found that they had 21 in stock. Great, I only needed 2. So we go back to the aisle and look at the overhead bins for the stock number and he couldn’t find it. Uggh. Off I went to Lowe’s (it was closer than the next Home Depot). No luck. Then 20 minutes to the next Home Depot where I found what them! Perfect, wasted an extra 35 minutes and half a gallon of gas (about $1.45 these days) because the guy in Home Depot couldn’t find inventory.

Automated Telephone Menu Systems

I received mail from Time Warner Cable thanking me for being a business class customer for a year and offered me a free 2 Mbps upgrade. So, I called the toll free number and tried to navigate through the menus to claim my “prize”. After the system hung up on me the first time, I tried again. Next time, I got it to connect me to the Desert Cities office which isn’t where I am. So I called my local office (I memorized the phone number a long time ago) and after miss navigating the first time, I tried again and managed to get a person in sales. I asked for business class sales and he gave me the same phone number I already tried. He them transferred me to a live person who then asked for my zip code and transferred me to my “local” rep. The local rep answered (obviously on a cell phone) and asked if I was transferred to the number or I called it. He said he’d call me back when he gets in the office.

While I really like the service and have only had a few hours of downtime in the last year, talking to a human who has a clue is nearly impossible. We’ll see if I get my upgrade (I’m not sure I will as all residential and home business customers got upgraded from 3 MBps down to 5 MBps down earlier this year. Maybe I can convince them to give me a free upgrade to better upstream bandwidth.)

Company Recommendations

People keep asking me for recommendations on vendors such as general contractors, places to buy stuff, etc. So I started a web page with some of my recommendations. I’ll try to keep updating it as I encounter more companies that provide excellent service, prices, and quality.