Caught: Hook, Line, and Sinker
A year ago, I was window shopping at a local mall; and I was stopped by a girl at a small stand that sells Sprint cell phones. Although I was interested in getting a pair of cell phones; I was unemployed at the time so it didn’t seem wise to even stop.
I stopped anyways to kill time and listened to a deal that sounded wonderful. Even with my credit, I could get one free phone, and only pay $20 for the second phone!
No down payment!
The two phones would have 1000 shared minutes for only $39.99 a month, and calls between phones were free.
I was sold before I knew about the whole ‘free nights and weekend’ thing.
All I had to do was sign a 2 year contract. The bill wouldn’t ever change on me: that was the first guarantee that the lady (falsely) gave. So I asked the biggest deciding question… What was the fee if a contract was broken?
$200 was the answer.
I walked away, pondering the risk. My husband also wanted phones for us, and wouldn’t it be nice to surprise him?
I always have bad luck when ‘waiting on’ something. By the time I give in and go back, the deal is over or the product is sold out. So I returned, having decided that (even with just my husbands income) we could afford it.
I showed enough interest to raise the pressure this Sprint sales person was giving, yet I also showed more skepticism. Before signing any contract, I wanted to be perfectly clear about what I was signing. The Sprint sales representative assured me that the $200 fee was all it would cost if I couldn’t keep the contract.
She verified that it was a total fee of $200, nothing more, because both phones were on the same contract; that I would not be charged $200 per phone.
While in the process of writing up my service, I was asked if I would like insurance on the phones. She explained that if anything happened to one of our phones, anything at all, our phones would be replaced for free if we have insurance. It only cost $6/month per phone. I decided if I was committing myself for 2 years, I should suck it up and add on the extra $12 in case anything actually did happen.
With the service ready to be activated, all that was left for me to do is sign that darn contract and this sales lady would have her hard earned commission check. Good deal for both of us, right?
As I have been taught, I always read what I sign. The contract was very small, and very limited, actually printed on a receipt (which still sits in a shoebox in my closet). It bothered me at the time, how vague and unspecific the information on the receipt was, but I ignored my gut instinct and signed anyways.
Although I was wise to have saved the “contract”, it does no good.
What I signed was that if I did not keep my end (paying the bill) I would be charged ‘a fee’ for breaking the agreement. There is absolutely no mention of an amount, all it says is ‘a fee of termination’.
My husband was very surprised, and happy, when I picked him up from work and gave him his phone. He assured me that it was a good deal I had taken, and I pushed aside all doubts or worries. That is, until our first bill arrived.
There were a number of services we were given for free for a month to try out. I cancelled them in the time needed, yet we were still charged for those ‘free trials.’ I spent numerous hours on hold, repeated calls to that beloved 1-800-customer service number, and yelled at many apologetic, helpless representatives before finally reaching one that found the problem and fixed it by giving us a credit on our next bill.
Another a few months passed, we encountered the next problem. My husband and I were fishing one day and his phone was accidentally knocked off a rock into the water.
The display on the screen was distorted, and it was already apparent we were going to need to replace his phone. In an attempt to see if we could get it working to make and recieve calls in the meantime… we removed the battery and set it on the dashboard in the car to let it dry out.
A moment later, my phone rang. I was, at that time, very freaked out to see my husbands cell phone displayed on the caller id. It was like something out of a horror movie, his phone called mine repeatedly, over and over for about an hour.
There was definitely some kind of weird short in the circuit, and although I don’t know much about how any of that works, I know there is something really wrong when his phone, sitting right next to me without the battery, is calling my phone.
First thing the next morning, my husband took the phone into a Sprint store to have it replaced. That is where I learned the first mistake I had made in choosing Sprint. The $12 I wasted for ‘insurance’ was absolutely worthless!
After receiving a hard time from one clerk, my husband asked for a manager. It was that very manager who explained that the insurance only covered ‘broken’ phones, not water damaged ones. It would cost him $300 (the full price of the phone I had originally bought for $20) to replace his damaged phone.
My short tempered husband then smashed the phone on the counter, handed the pieces to the manager, and said “There! Now it’s broken. Give me my phone” (only not so nice.) Regardless of this persistent demand, he came home empty handed. We both agreed it would be cheaper to pay the $200 to escape the contract. Sprint wasn’t really worth dealing with anymore.
After a few more angry phone calls to the 1-800-worthless number, I finally told one girl to end my service. Although my husbands’ phone was in pieces, and no longer in our possession, we were still seeing loads of overage calls made from his phone every month.
My phone was shut off (terminated on their end) after about 3 months. Yet I was still receiving bills, every month, each more than the last. When I read a Sprint bill that said I owe them over a thousand dollars I had enough.
I called the 1-800-deceit number once again, this time with credit card ready to pay the $200 to get them to leave me alone. This is where things get really interesting.
Having no proof on my receipt/contract of what I was told when I signed the tiny piece of paper, I had no way of arguing against their demands that I pay $200 per phone, on top of this $1000+ bill.
It took 3 months after my first request to cancel my Sprint service before it was actually cancelled. Apparently, you have to be transferred to another representative, and go through at least 5 minutes of begging and pleading to stop making ‘bargain offers’ and just end the contract. Since I did not do this the first 5 times I told reps to end my service (followed by a very angry hang-up) they had continued to bill me every month.
I cannot influence everyone’s decision to purchase a ‘good deal’… but I would like to share this story with anyone who would be wise enough to research a company before signing anything. Sprint is one company I would try to avoid.
If you are in the market for any cell phone, not just Sprint, it is highly advisable to be sure you know what you are agreeing to, exactly, and see it in writing before you sign your credit away.
You can’t rely on the words of a sales person who will say anything to get that commission check!