I’ve had service from Sprint for years now, and since the year following Katrina’s visit to New Orleans, I’ve had a Sprint data card. Most of the time, I’ve been happy with service, although I did discover both my phone and data card were largely useless when I dared venture into that great void known as the states of Missouri, Iowa, and Minnesota. Mississippi and Louisiana could get iffy if I was away from the interstates and coast region too. Texas? Well, I had service when I was on I-10 or in Houston!
Sprint did require me to pay the bill, but I figured that was fair enough, since they by and large did what they said they were going to. Over the years, services have changed, and Verizon was looking very tempting as their speed, coverage area, and prices matched that of Sprint. AT&T even had better coverage, but the biggest selling point for Verizon is the fact I often saw the difference first hand, as my daughter had a Verizon phone and I had a Sprint one…and I’d be with no service, and she’d have a full four bars and no roaming either. As for the data card, well…if the phone was useless…so was the data card and gps service.
This week, I went to pay my bill. It was overdue, I’d forgotten about it, and I needed to pay it now. Two and a half hours, four phone calls to Sprint customer service…and I finally got a human who granted me access to my account online once again. It shouldn’t be that hard to pay a bill. I shouldn’t have to watch a tutorial to figure out HOW to pay a bill either.
Over the years, services have changed. When I originally got my data card plan, it was for unlimited data use. When I log into my account to check data use, it still SAYS I have unlimited data use. However, Sprint has decided it doesn’t like the fact that I have an old plan with unlimited data because I have had a data card plan with them for the past five years. (WOW, I didn’t realize it had been that long!)
Today, I received an email from Sprint. Here’s what it said:
“Confirmation no.: (#DELETED) Rep Id: 11111 Date/Time: Aug 25, 2010 01:07 am(CST)
Modification(s): – Important Notice for (#DELETED): As of 08/24/2010 at 06:05pm, you have used 3946820.00 KBytes of your 5 GB (5,242,880 KBytes) monthly Sprint Data usage allotment. The terms and conditions of your plan state that you are allowed 5 GB of data card usage. To ensure quality service and maintain high levels of network performance, Sprint can suspend data usage when you exceed the 5 GB cap. Any suspension will remain in effect until your monthly usage is reset on 09/15/2010. You can avoid overage charges by monitoring your usage; simply sign into your account at sprint.com.
If you have questions or did not request this change(s), please contact Sprint Customer Care in a way that’s convenient for you:
– Email: Click http://www.Sprint.com/emailcare
– Chat: Click http://www.Sprint.com/chat
– Phone: Press *2 from your Sprint phone
If you have trouble with the links above, please type the web address into your browser.
For your protection, you will be asked for your account PIN or security answer whenever you contact us. ”
SO…it seems that Sprint has decided to change the terms of my data plan because it no longer suited them to provide me with the unlimited usage I had for the past five years. They don’t have to pay an early termination fee to do so either. They are simply informing me that they are going to cut off my service when I’ve reached my allotment for the month. Period. But wait…it gets better, folks.
It seems that if I don’t want to continue paying for their service, I have to pay an early termination fee because I am terminating my contract. So, it seems that once again, the little guy, also known as the consumer, has zero rights insofar as this corporation contract crap goes. They can change or terminate service without penalty, but I can’t????
To make it even better, I know why I used so much data this month already. My computer died as the result of a lightening strike. A new laptop was purchased, and even though the initial set up and downloaded updates was done via cable connection…everybody knows what a new computer is like. Microsoft has a ton of crap to send me. HP keeps sending more downloads. AV software has to update every 4 hours because some guy in China is being paid big bucks to come up with new viruses to scare people like me into keeping their AV subscriptions current…and every time I turn around, I’ve got a ton of email to catch up on because I was without a computer for a week, there are blogs to read, websites to check, etc. It isn’t like I went to downloading and uploading massive audio files like usual–I haven’t had time yet! So…one corporation is cutting off access and forcing me to go to hotspots for the next two weeks or until the new router is configured and the network is figured out (it got hit too) all because of crap I don’t care about that other corporations are insisting I must have right now.
Okay, so I can live without internet access or obtain it elsewhere. It isn’t an essential, really. However, in today’s modern world, that’s how we usually pay our bills, communicate with friends, obtain information about everything from movies to local stores’ sales, and often do our work, whatever that may be. It isn’t about internet access, really. It’s more about the lack of consumer rights and the abundance of corporate rights. It isn’t like there are any companies out there that provide these services without the ridiculous contract that is designed specifically to prevent switching companies (aka competition). It’s a monopoly, folks, and its getting worse. We have no choice in who we obtain certain services from: cable tv, cable internet, land based telephone, electricity, natural gas, water, sewer, trash, etc. and we are being closed in and choices eliminated for wireless services as well.
We lost our traditional televisions stations and were all forced to go digital…and the reason was that those frequencies would be used for data transmission, making the internet as free as television was in the early days before cable. It probably wasn’t going to be fast or reliable, because face it…efficiency doesn’t happen if the government has its hand in it. Now it seems that those frequencies are not being dedicated to what we were told they were going to be, but are likely to be sold to the highest bidder in the wireless corporate fray.
Where are our consumer advocates? Where are the laws to protect the consumer?
Don’t hold your breath-they don’t exist. Consumers, people like you and I, can’t afford to hire lobbyists and woo senators and representatives to our side of the fence. Guess who can afford it though! The same corporation that says I have to pay $69.99 for limited service until the end of the contract, or pay a $200 early termination fee because I am breaking the contract, never mind that my unlimited service has been changed to limited service without warning or options. (The first letter just informed me that they would terminate my contract, now they aren’t going to terminate it but rather just cut off service when I reach the limit.)
So what was the point of me staying with Sprint when they were outclassed in speed and coverage by Verizon? Obviously customer loyalty isn’t a concern for Sprint. Being fair isn’t either. I stayed with Sprint because I had a plan with unlimited service, or I would have switched companies when my contract was up last time. Now, because of how they work their contracts, it would cost me $400 to switch companies. That’s a ridiculous sum of money for merely terminating my use of their services really, especially since the two devices, with their plans, cost nearly $200 each and every month as it is. For five years, I have dutifully sent the money to keep my devices working and their plans active. I coped with crappy “insurance” coverage for which I had been paying the required $7 per month, and it turns out…if your device isn’t repairable, you are going to have a hefty “co-payment” to get it replaced, and you can’t have it taken care of at a Sprint store either. You have to call, wait on the phone, then wait for the item to be delivered. For my Blackberry, which instead of merely repairing what was broken, I was informed it was “water damage” and as a result I had to pay $100 co-payment (Sprint’s fee for upgrading and re-upping your contact happened to be $100 too.)
Sometimes, I hate technology and its conveniences and fees and corporations. I remember the days when I didn’t bother with a phone, instead choosing to use pay phones for the few items of business I conducted via telephone. I had no computer, and had never seen the internet. Life was simple and less expensive. I bought money orders to send off when I mail ordered something. I paid my bills at an office where I spoke to a real human clerk. When the power went out, we lit a candle or lantern and continued cooking dinner. If it was cold, there was the wood stove or propane oven to use until the power came back on and the propane or fuel oil furnace would work again.
How many buttons did you have to push the last time you had to call a company for customer service before you spoke to a human? Did you even get to talk to a human? I’m TIRED of talking to machines who can’t understand my accent! I’m tired of talking to customer service reps who don’t live in the United States and have no clue where I am, let alone what kind of English I speak. Sometimes their accents are so strong and choice of words so peculiar, I’m not entirely sure that we are both speaking the same language anyhow.
Now, where did I write down that Verizon store address?
I don’t get it. Why are all of the data plans limiting use to 5 gb over the past two years? That works fine…if all you are doing is normal email, light surfing and shopping. It doesn’t work when you actually USE your computer to do work, research, etc. It’s not like I’m happily playing away in some virtual reality either! It’s not like I can buy another 5 gb for a set fee either…and not from any company.