When a Cellphone Company Hangs Up On Its Customers

Via Bes, I learned that Sprint will disconnect the lines of problem customers. Sprint claims that by ditching these problem customers, customers with legitimate needs will be able to be helped faster.

While working at Walgreens as a photo clerk, we had our share of problem customers. Most customers were content to drop off their film and return within an hour and pick the pictures up. Some customers, however, wanted us to adjust the colors, reprint problem pictures, or complain about tiny little white spots (caused by dust) on their pictures. Sometimes I would spend hours correcting a customer’s film order (sometimes while the customer waited).

One customer at Walgreens was so picky that our manager had to intervene and tell the lady that we simply couldn’t accommodate her needs at our store. We recommended several pro shops for her to try out. He explained to me in private that although we (Walgreens) try to adhere to all customers, some cross the line and become more of a burden to the bottom line than helping it. Another point my manager brought up is that Walgreens is not a “professional” photo shop. If a customer really wanted her film done exactly how she wanted, she would be better off taking it to a pro shop where they specialize in custom orders.

In the case of Sprint, there is no “pro” shop. There are just other comparable carriers.

But what about those Sprint problem customers? Unfortunately, cellphone carriers are in a unique position where they can offer crappy service with the customers unable to do anything but complain. Since customers are locked into two-year contracts with high cancellation fees, all a customer can do is complain if the service isn’t up to par. Sprint should worry more about improving its service than trying to cut off problem customers. A better approach perhaps would be to offer these customers free cancellation and a choice of going to a competing carrier. Sprint shouldn’t just say, “Sorry, you’re not a good customer to us anymore. Good bye.”

At Walgreens we told the customer more-or-less, “We simply cannot accommodate your special needs because we don’t have the equipment or staff on hand. Here are some places that can help you.” In Sprint’s case, it’s telling the problem customers, “We can’t stand your constant need for customer service. We’re cutting you off from our network. Go elsewhere and be someone else’s problem.”

4 Comments

  1. Sprint hasn't shared details on whether calling multiple times is the only criteria for letting customers go. People are calling Sprint dozens of times to solve their billing issues, or to ask service related issues. Does this mean Sprint does not have the customer service to be able to deal with customers who can pinpoint problems and who are insistent on finding a solution? So now asking for help is a problem for Sprint; soon companies will start charging for customer support, whether or not you are an existing customer. "If you can't fix it, get rid of the person who finds the problem!"

    This does give a way to other people to try to break their contracts: keep calling Sprint everyday, and hopefully you may receive a break by having Sprint end your contract, and thus you end up not having to pay any termination fees. Reliability? Basically, you can't rely on Sprint for your cell phone needs, and have to be scared all the time "OMG! I called sprint 3 times this month 😯 !! WILL THEY BOOT ME!!!@???????"

    Also, one of the golden questions: is everyone who calls Sprint too much being let go, or are businesses exempt from this since they pay more, and thus residential customers are being pushed out of the contracts?

    Sprint customer service needs an overhaul. It's time I contacted them.

  2. No options? Sure they do. It’s called a “land line”. Yes, a cell phone is handy to have at times, but, oddly enough, people lived for quite a few years without that luxury.

    Granted, this comes from someone who dislikes cell phones and has one for use only when traveling. And it is a “pay as you go” phone, so no contract. 🙂

    One source (here) said that the dropped customers averaged 25 calls a month. Sounds like they were displeased with their service. Or lonely. 😀

    cetroyer

  3. Yes, 25 calls in a month is a lot. Especially since these calls were probably made using the Sprint network as well.

  4. This is/was a really bad move… I wonder what the finer details were?

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