Thursday, December 29, 2005

More Phone-Related Strife

the preowened phone
Wow, it's dead around here this week. I've been sick at home myself - just a cold, probably. So this probably won't be my Best Entry Ever. You don't mind, do you?

I spent this morning in bed after calling in sick, and got up to go to my 12:15 appointment at the Sprint Store. Yesterday, a helpful person there told me that although I didn't qualify for a rebate (typically about 75% off) on the price of a replacement phone, I could get a "pre-owned, reconditioned" phone just like the one I lost for half price - $85. That's better than $170! I asked about the two alternate colors the model comes in, pink and blue. The Sprint person went back and checked. Yes, a pink one and a blue one were possiblilties, but not until Wednesday. That was the day the person who checks in the pre-owned phones would be in to certify the red and pink phones for resale. Would I like to come in tomorrow? Well, yes. For a pink or blue phone instead of boring silver, I'd gladly make the return trip. I'd have gotten one in the first place, but the store had been out of them back in May.

But today it was a different story. The person I spoke to before wasn't in (and she'd warned me that she wouldn't be), and the guy I got instead was almost belligerent. I explained the situation, and what I'd been told about getting a used phone for $85.

"That's impossible," he said. "We don't have used phones."

"Pre-owned, then." Good grief! Was this guy going to quibble over terms?

"Who told you this?"

"I don't know. One of your people here."

"Well, I'd like to know who said that, because that's not how it works. You don't qualify for anything like that because your contract is less than a year old." (He may have said six months old; I don't recall for sure. If so, he was wrong - it's been seven months.)

"But that was a renewal. I've been a Sprint customer for over three years. I've gone through several phones, some of which didn't work very well. Finally I've lost a phone, and I need to replace it. Now you say I don't qualify to buy an $85 phone?"

"I'm sorry. Look, I'm trying to help you here."

I started to cry. "You want me to spend $170 I don't have, when I was promised I could get one for $85. I'd like to speak to a manager, please."

The guy left his station. I tried to stop crying. He was back a couple minutes later - without his manager, but with the "pre-owned" phone - in silver.

"I'm going to do it for you this time, lady, but I want you to know that's not how this works." I couldn't believe it. He actually called me "lady." I was the difficult customer, in this guy's way. I was no longer entitled to politeness or kindness or sensitivity. And his repeated riff of "that's not how this works" reminded me strongly of a demon character in the "Anne" episode of Buffy. This did not improve my opinion of the Sprint guy.

"Thank you," I said.

He had me sign a contract for two years from today's date, the same as the person yesterday said would be required. I've been unhappy with Sprint's connectivity from day one, but ah, well. I did not mention the pink and blue phones. This guy's attitude was that I didn't even deserve what I was getting. I couldn't ask for more. And between my cold and being upset and this guy's failure to communicate exactly what he was doing, I started to leave with the empty box and no phone at one point. I must have looked like a total idiot.

But I wasn't. I was a longtime customer, merely trying to get back to where I was a week ago, based on what I was promised.

I understand that they have weird rules, designed to get new customers with loss leaders, and make it back in contracts and upgrades. But if Employee A offers Deal X, there must be a basis for it. It's not right for Employee B to try to renege on the deal.

Let's leave this distressing story now, so I can show you a couple of pictures from the drive home on Monday.

goodbye to Disneyland for now.

We started the day at Downtown Disney, having breakfast at Rainforest Cafe and buying a few last minute souvenirs. We finished up at the Entrance Plaza, where I checked with the Lost and Found one more time and John took a few final Disney pictures. Goodbye, Disneyland! See you next time!

On our Christmas Eve trip west, we used the hybrid route - I-10 to I-8, up through Gila Bend (home of the Space Age Lodge) and north back to I-10 west of Phoenix, and then onto a couple of routes whose numbers I forget to get down from San Bernardino to Anaheim. Coming back, we took the southern route - I-5 to I-8, all the way to I-10 near Casa Grande. That's the route that runs through Cleveland National Forest, with a rest area where I once saw a bobcat at dawn. It also goes through San Diego, and then up the coast. Coming back, we saw the morning clouds burn off, and caught glimpses of ocean. Then we headed east through the mountains, a highly variable terrain.

Some of the mountains look like mountains, some like buttes or mesas, some like sand quarries, and some - my favorite - look like piles of rocks. The more mountainy ones are green, but what looks like grass from a distance turns out to be trees up close.

I love the elevation signs. I-8 climbs to over 5000 feet, and then drops again, with lots of posted warnings about a 6% downgrade and runaway trucks. (This always reminds me of the Harry Chapin song, 30,000 Pounds of Bananas, about a truck crash in Scranton, Pennsylvania.) Eventually we reach irrigated farmland and dry lakebeds, at sea level and below.

The really tedious part of the drive, at least potentially, was after dark, from the Arizona border east and south to Tucson. This was mitigated quite a bit as John and I came across two or three amazing radio stations. The first of these we found around Yuma, but it was probably broadcasting from Mexicali, Baja Norte. It may or may not have been XHMIX. Anyway, it was English language rock and roll, announced en Espanol. But what a playlist! Before we lost the station, we hear The Association, Tom Jones, REO, Styx, an obscure Lennon song (Move Over Ms. L.), an equally obscure Cars song, 13th Floor Elevators, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and The Carpenters. It was astounding, the range of music. We found a similar station somewhere in Arizona, except in English. This kept John and me suitably entertained and chatting about music, all the way home.



Carly said...


You should have NEVER allowed that behavior! Wasn't there another Sprint store you could have gone to? I don't know how that company works, but with Cingluar all the stores I have done business with have been consistant with policy and with customer care as has the website were I have done business. I know you weren't feeling well and probably just wanted to get it done, but now you have a chance to shop around for a company that treats its customers better.

Shelly said...

I guess getting it in writing would be a good idea. Also, I'd have told him, well, perhaps I can get a better deal at (name of any other phone company). Sheesh. What a jerk. I'd complain about the rude customer service.