Sprinting Downward

sprint
Sprint – Moving closer to the darker side of mobile carriers

I used to rave about Sprint. I’ve been with them for almost 11 years now. The first 7 years with them, I had very few issues that I’ve had to deal with. That all changed over the last three and a half years.

Multiple calls to Sprint for pitiful service dropped calls and to bitch about my lost discounts didn’t produce any results. I kept hearing “we are working on upgrading the towers” more times than I care to admit. I counted the days that each of the 5 phones would be off contract.

The Move to AT&T

As most of my readers know, I carried two phones… my iPhone on Sprint and an Android phone on AT&T. I decided that I might as well make the switch. So in September of last year, I moved my line and my wife’s line from Sprint to AT&T.

Since that time, my wife hasn’t dropped a single call and has very good service just about anywhere she goes. With the exception of some lockups and reboots, which I solved by wiping my iPhone 5s and starting from scratch, I love my phone again.

A Lone Sprint Phone

At the time I switched over to AT&T, Sprint decided to contact me, wondering why I was leaving and was there anything they could do to keep me as a customer. I was asked to email my reasons for leaving Sprint, which I’ve included below:

I have been with Sprint since April 2003. Up until last week, I had 5 lines on my account. I am in the process of moving all 5 lines to another mobile carrier (AT&T). Over the last 3 years, I have experienced a degraded experience in several areas:

– In September 2010, my total bill each month was $177, including taxes and discounts. Since that time, my bill has increased to $221 a month, including taxes and lost discounts.

– Of those lost discounts, I have one remaining (18%) that I have through my employer. While I am grateful to still have this discount, I was most upset at the billing change that happened on my Feb 2012 statement.

– I have a family plan Everything Data 1500, which requires a minimum of two lines. Before Feb 2012, I was billed $129.99 a month for both phones. As of Feb 2012, the billing changed to $110 for the first line and $19.99 for the second line, which allowed Sprint to exclude the required second line from any discounts, which netted Sprint another $4 a month (at the time, I had a 20% discount).

– Switching any phones on my plan required a $10 a month Premium Data charge. While I can understand this for phones that are more capable, it invalided any option of purchasing a phone outside of Sprint (and
outside of signing a 2 year contract) without incurring that extra $10 a month. For example, let’s say that I had a Samsung phone and it became damaged and I needed to replace it. I could go to eBay or another
source and purchase a replacement phone – even the identical make and model. Before, there was not $10 Premium Data charge. Once I switch phones, regardless of phone or how I obtained it, Sprint would charge me $10 a month. I found this unacceptable, considering the above scenario of bringing my own phone.

– 3G data has been bad to horrible. My previous phone was an iPhone 4S and in the last 5 months, my data connection would often switch from “Sprint 3G” to “Extended o” in just about everywhere I went. For example, visiting downtown Salt Lake City and downtown Denver, my data connection was degraded many times. I could simply stand still, sitting outside, with no obstructions, and watch my data connection struggle to remain connected to Gmail, Foursquare, Twitter and email. I contacted support several times, with no positive results. I have reset my iPhone 4S with the update data profile code ##873283# which would improve the connection for an hour or two before being degraded back down to “Extended o”. With this kind of experience, even the lure of unlimited data isn’t a perk.

I was ready to move all 5 of my lines from Sprint this month, but decided to wait until 4 of the 5 lines were out of contract as to not incur the ETF’s. The first of 5 lines – the 801-261-1469 – was moved last week. As of January 18, 2014, I will have 1 remaining line under my Sprint contract/plan. I am planning on moving that remaining line in 2014, paying the ETF of $140 (the prorated ETF with 7 months remaining). I am told that LTE is planned for rollout sometime in 2014 for Salt Lake City, which is nice, but too late for the many issues I’ve had.

I understand all carriers have their issues and I’m sure AT&T will have their share over the course of time. I’ve carried a second phone on AT&T for the last 7 years and have had no where near the issues that I’ve experienced with Sprint in the last 3 years.

All of these issues have been reported to various CS agents. As helpful and cheerful as all of the CS agents have been when I have chatted or called in, none were able to address my issues completely.

What I was hoping to have resolved in order for my experience to be better with Sprint:

– Better 3G data on a major phone. I expected something like an iPhone 4S, which is less than two years old, to connect better on Sprint’s 3G network. I’ve been told there have been improvements to the data
network, of which I had yet to experience when I had my iPhone 4S. I have switched to my previous phone – a Palm Pre – for the remaining 2 months of my contract. My data issues are slightly better, but I don’t use near the amount of data that I used on my iPhone 4S.

– the $10 a month Premium Data fee bothers me on many levels, especially when considering replaced phones. I held off on upgrading 3 of the phones for this very reason. 3G data is 3G data, on any phone. I could use 3gb of data on a 3 year old Palm Pre or use 3gb of data on a 2 year old iPhone 4S.

This is my feedback. At this point, there isn’t anything that can be done to keep me as a Sprint customer, but I am open to hearing options as an effort from Sprint in response to this feedback.

After sending that email, I heard back via phone from a CS agent who proceeded to focus solely on pricing, which wasn’t my only complaint. Some 20 minutes later, she finally understood my issues, but offered nothing in return to help. Which, as I mentioned above, I wasn’t interested in any attempts to keep me as a customer. But I would have appreciated an effort – any effort – just to see how concerned they were losing a 10+ year customer.

Fast forward to today, I have one phone that remains on Sprint. It’s my daughter’s iPhone 4S, which isn’t out of contract until December 2014. I changed the plan to a more affordable one that still has unlimited data and will keep that around till it becomes affordable to switch the phone over to AT&T.

LTE and Better Service

Sprint finally announced they had LTE here in Salt Lake City about a month ago. Their 3G service has gotten better, as my daughter says her phone works quite well. I have wonderful LTE data access on AT&T and my service has never been poor. So there are no regrets on my part in making the switch.

Summary

As with all mobile phone companies, there are issues that I’m sure AT&T will have. And I will deal with them as best as I can. But for now, I’m loving my 4 phone 10gb shared data plan and the reliable service it brings to each phone user.

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