Sprint Nextel Rewrites “Rashomon”

When it was just Sprint, the customer service was fine. Nothing to write home about, but fine.

This weekend, my Treo 600’s microphone died. On the phone, Sprint Rep #1 tells me this is a “known software issue.” Walk the thing into a Sprint store and they’ll fix it, gratis. No, I can’t have credit for the days the phone is unusable.

I take the walk at lunchtime. At the store, Rep #2, Happy, confers with the on site tech department. She informs me it’s not the software, it’s hardware. I must pay for repair. How much? It takes 20 minutes for her to get back to me with the information that I must purchase a mandatory $35 insurance policy. If I do so, the phone will be fixed in three hours.

She doesn’t tell me — until I ask — the policy costs $6.00 per month in perpetuity — and can’t be cancelled. Throw in assorted deals and rebate offers and that’s the cost of a new phone right there.

Rep #3, Ziggy, weighs in. I have to buy that policy, all right. But it’s not effective for 30 days. But lucky me! In a mere four weeks it kicks in. Then, I mail the phone somewhere for service because, “No Sprint store in New York can repair your model.”

Meanwhile, the computer system goes down, the line’s out the door, and construction is screeching in our ears (red Sprint stuff is coming down and yellow Nextel stuff is going up). An employee calls, “Next customer please.” Happy shushes him with, “They told us never to say that. I don’t remember what you’re supposed to say, but you’re not supposed to say that.”

They don’t remember a lot, apparently. I ask to speak with the repair guy himself. I figure he’ll know if they can fix the phone or not. Twenty minutes later, Rep #4, Carlos arrives on the scene.

He’s the bearer of relatively glad tidings. For $2.99 per month, I can get ESRP (whatever that is). If I agree to that, they’ll have a brand new phone for me by Friday. And of course, they’ll credit my account for the no-service days.

I’m waiting for Friday. The suspense is killing me, but at least no one asked, “Did I provide you with excellent customer service today?”

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