February 28, 2008

Losing customers... at Sprint speed

As a Sprint customer, I find the news that Sprint lost $29.5 billion last quarter... well... incredibly easy to believe. Also incredibly satisfying.

And I'm especially heartened to read that the company is acknowledging that it's losing money not because of market trends or writedowns related to its acquisition of Nextel, but because it's, um, losing customers at an astounding rate -- 700,000 customers who had annual contracts left in the last three months of 2007 alone. That's impressive.

I wonder if it has anything to do with the unimaginably atrocious customer service. Apparently, being complete assholes every time you interact with the people who pay you for the privilege of using your service does turn people off -- even if the customer service page on your corporate web site advises us that "Sprint wants you to enjoy the best customer experience."

Like many others, I have a Sprint tale of woe. Two years ago, someone hacked into my account and added three lines (including one for a phone number in northern Indiana -- ick!) and ran up about $800 in calls in a month. After weeks of my begging and pleading, Sprint kind of figured out that those lines and those calls weren't mine -- must have been tough since that's about what I spend on cell service in two years. But they were still going to make me pay half of the fraudulent charges.

It took several more emails and calls to work it out; each time I contacted them, they grudgingly agreed to knock off a hundred dollars or so until the balance came out to zero. Actually, because of their convoluted way of doing the math, I wound up with a credit of something like $7.32, which was great, but somehow made me hate them even more.

It's amusing that the CEO blames some of the company's struggles on the "brand" lacking "relevance and a clear message." I think the message that Sprint pretty much hates its customers comes through loud and clear.

Oh, and, yes, I'm still a customer. I get a monthly discount through my employer. What a sucker!


Anonymous said...

Sprint is my favorite failure story of all time.

A lead balloon they are.

Loree said...

I remember all your Sprint madness. I can't believe you're still a customer. Hilarious.

JBhumitra said...

i used to have sprint, and did experience their awesomely bad customer service. worse yet was comcast, and even worse, verizon - who apparently red flags customers who call and get angry, despite being justified for being treated like crap by the verizon customer service (or lack thereof) people. BUT, nobody does it like Airtel. take sprint, marry it to comcast and verizon (we'll pretend we're in utah and polygamy is approved), then, take that messy marital relationship, and move it to the most dysfunctional country in the world - Incredible India! You end up with Airtel, the mother of all poor customer service and absolutely incomprehensible illogic. a pox on them all!

JBhumitra said...

i should note when you get red flagged by verizon, the customer agents transfer your call from one to the next, just continuously passing you along until you are so frustrated you hang up. not a bad strategy on their part. not good for the person whose service keeps going out.