Most of the time, I read the news because I want to be informed about the world. Looking through articles, I spend my time on the ones that affect my world, give me an idea about what to expect in the future, and generally make everything clearer. Once in a while, though, I read the news for the sweet taste of revenge.
Looking through the paper today, I noticed that Sprint seems to be in big trouble. Yesterday, their stock dropped more than 9% after they announced a loss of over $29 billion in the fourth quarter of 2007. While this loss was largely tied to Sprint's disastrous merger with Nextel, a fair bit can also be chalked up to Sprint's abysmal customer service.
I have a lot of experience with Sprint's customer service. When I first got a cell phone, almost ten years ago, my provider was a small regional company. While I could only call from a very constrained area, I was generally impressed with the level of customer care that my provider offered. Most of the time, my phone calls were answered by a person, not a machine, and the company was very nice about crediting my account in cases of incorrect billing. Unfortunately, I was only with them for a few months before they were bought out by Sprint.
Sprint was like a classic drug dealer. Kind at first, Sprint seduced me into a long-term contract with a massively extended service area and very attractive rates. However, once they had my signature on the dotted line, they spun on me like Ike Turner on meth. All of a sudden, they were hitting me with fees, fines, and assorted other charges. Worst of all, they more or less controlled cell service in my small town, so I was stuck with them.
A year or so ago, I left Sprint for T-Mobile, and I haven't looked back. According to an article in today's New York Times, I'm not the only one; they have lost over 1.2 million customers this year, and are on track to lose 2.5 million in the first quarter of 2008. I'm not surprised; googling "I hate Sprint," I found myself confronted with hundreds of users complaining about the same things that had bothered me for years. Rather than continue complaining, Sprint's customers seem to be abandoning it in droves.
Apparently, Sprint is discovering that lousy customer service is fine, as long as you're the only game in town!
Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. He sticks pins in his "Sprint" voodoo doll every night..