Aug 132012
 

I have been a satisfied customer of Sprint for around 15 years.  I’ve been using a smartphone with their mobile service since shortly after the Palm Treo 600 was introduced in 2003.

I recently acquired two Samsung SPH-D700’s (a.k.a., Epic 4G), and after flashing them with the alternative Android firmware Cyanogenmod, browsed to Sprint’s Website to activate the first of the two phones.  I’m under a bit of pressure, as one of the Treo 650’s I have on my plan now has taken one too many knocks, reboots if you touch it wrong, and has an inoperable microphone (who talks on mobile phones anymore, anyway?), and the other one was accidentally submerged in three feet of sea water for about 10 minutes over the weekend.

Their site informed me that I could not activate this phone, and suggested I call to talk about a different service plan.  I’m happy with my current plan.  For $95 per month plus taxes and fees, two phones share 750 minutes, each gets 1000 SMS messages, and each has un-metered data service.  All of the above is available whether the phones are on Sprint’s network or roaming to Verizon’s.

A lengthy Web-based chat with Sprint support revealed that I will need to begin paying more than 50% extra per month — $150 plus taxes and fees — if I wish to activate any smartphone on my Sprint service.  Whether I’m activating one of these 2010-model Samsungs or the 2004-model Treos, Sprint won’t allow it with my current plan.  After politely speaking with once customer service representative, Keith M., his supervisor, Laurie B., and her supervisor, Anderson S., Mr. S. effectively hung up on me.  He asked if I wanted to continue the chat, then seconds later, while I was typing my response, ended the chat.

Where should I go from here?  I would like to switch to Credo Mobile, because it seems very likely that they’re EFF’s anonymous client in a lawsuit filed in resistance to U.S. Government snooping, but then I wouldn’t have the option of freely roaming onto Verizon, which is particularly nice for those of us who spend lots of time out in the Olympic and Cascade Mountains.  I would like to use prepaid service that can be purchased anonymously with cash.  I would very much like to simply enter the new serial number and have a new phone working in an hour or so.

My chat with Sprint’s representatives, which ran from about 9:30 a.m. until about 12:45 p.m., Pacific Time on August 13, 2012, follows:

Sprint: We received your information and will connect you with a Chat Specialist soon.

Sprint: All agents are currently busy, please hold while we estimate your wait time.

Sprint: Thank you for waiting, you’re in our Chat queue in position 1. We will connect you to a specialist soon.

Sprint: Thank you for waiting, you’re in our Chat queue in position 1. We will connect you to a specialist soon.

Keith M.: Thank you for contacting Sprint. I am happy to help you. Please give me a moment to take a look at your account.

Keith M.: Let’s move this chat and make it a window of its own. It will enable you to view other Web pages while we chat.

Keith M.: Phillip, I would be glad to activate your phone without changing your plan.

Keith M.: Moving this chat window helps ensure our chat remains active even if you move to a different page on the website. Please click on the white Yes button below now.

You: Thanks. Done.

Keith M.: Thank you.

You: An empty window popped up.

Keith M.: It is okay.

Keith M.: Please allow me few moments to access your account.

Keith M.: You are trying to activate a phone on line#****, is that right?

You: Okay. So, I have two phones now: p-phone ***-***-**** and s-phone ***-***-**** I would like to replace the handset associated with the latter, s-phone.

You: correct

You: New handset has MEID: ******************.

Keith M.: Thank you.

Keith M.: Before I go ahead and activate this phone for you, please turn off both the old and the new phone and also remove the battery.

Keith M.: The updates are taking me a little extra time. I should be done shortly.

Keith M.: Phillip I can see that you are on 750 Anytime minutes plan.

Keith M.: This plan is expired.

Keith M.: Unfortunately, to activate a new smart phone the price plan needs to be changed.

Keith M.: Phillip, are we connected?

You: Yes. Sorry

Keith M.: It is okay.

You: “Expired”?

You: I have two smartphones now. I’m just replacing one with another.

Keith M.: Yes, this is a Sales expired plan.

You: I don’t know what it means for a plan to expired.

Keith M.: I understand. Sprint is longer offering this plan.

Keith M.: Phillip, this plan is no longer offered by Sprint on any phone.

Keith M.: The plan are changed according to the compatibility of phones.

Keith M.: To activate a Samsung Epic, a data plan is required.

You: But I’m not asking to have that plan added; I just want to keep what I have, add diff’t phone.

You: Were you going to end my service since this plan is unavailable?

You: I *have* a data plan.

You: I’m paying extra for it.

You: Data service is a line-item on my bill.

Keith M.: Your plan is a very old plan. You can continue to have the same plan with your old device.

Keith M.: However, to activate Samsung Epic, Everything data plan needs to be activated.

You: Why does it matter which phone I use?

You: This is very inconvenient, and disappointing. I bought a phone that works only with Sprint because I’m relatively happy with my SPrint service.

Keith M.: Phillip, the new smart phones can not be activated on old plans.

You: Now you’re telling me I can’t use it without changing my fee structure? I’ll need to go shop around with other carriers, consider re-selling the phones i just bought.

Keith M.: I apologize for the inconvenience.

You: Last time I did your “see if my plan is best for me” your rep told me in no uncertain terms that I should keep what I have.

You: What “new smart phones”? THis Treo 650 was a new smartphone just a year or two ago when I activated it, and this plan was not offered for sale at that time, either.

You: And the one I’m trying to activate is *two years* old.

You: this SPD-D700 was release in mid-2010

Keith M.: I do understand. However I have tried to activate the Samsung Epic phone with same plan but system is giving me error as : Plan change is required. You can also try to activate this phone online and will get the same error. I am here to provide you with correct and best available options, I am doing the same. I do not want you to face any inconvenience. You can continue with same plan with currently activated phone however with Samsung Epic data plan will be required.

You: I *did* try, and it failed, as I noted when opening the chat. I wouldn’t be bothering you if the automated system hadn’t failed me.

You: I’m sorry, I don’t understand. What would it mean for me to “continue with same plan with currently activated phone however with Samsung Epic data plan will be required”?

Keith M.: I understand Phillip. Due to same system limitation I am also unable to activate the Samsung Phone on the current plan.

You: I’m interested in your suggested workaround. What would it mean for me to “continue with same plan with currently activated phone however with Samsung Epic data plan will be required”?

Keith M.: Samsung Epic can only be activated on Everything Data plan. You can continue using your Palm Treo at the current plan.

Keith M.: I am sorry but I am unable to activate the Samsung Epic without changing the price plan.

You: If it provides the same features at the same price without a new contract, it would probably be acceptable. Can you confirm?

You: Also, can you provide me a list of what phones you prohibit me from using with my current service?

Keith M.: The plan price for Everything Data 450, individual plan is $69.99.

You: Thanks, but that’s only partially helpful. I’ll need to know if it has the same features as my current plan.

Keith M.: All the smart phones can not be activated with your current plan.

Keith M.: I will explain the features.

Keith M.: You will be getting 450 anytime minutes with unlimited data and texts.

You: I am already using two smartphones with my current plan. I have been for years. First Treo 600’s, then Treo 650’s.

Keith M.: Phillip, when you activated these phones, there was an exception raised.

You: Oh, cool. Could you please raise that exception again?

Keith M.: If you want to activate a new Palm phone with this plan, it will not be possible.

Keith M.: Unfortunately, I am unable to do that.

You: Could you put me in touch with someone who can do it?

You: Maybe whoever did it for me last time?

Keith M.: Unfortunately, it can not be done.

Keith M.: If you want I can connect you to my Supervisor.

You: That might be helpful. I understand that what I need is something you are not allowed to accomplish.

Keith M.: However, he will also not be able to activate your new phone on existing plan.

Keith M.: Please hold while I transfer you.

You: Understood. I’m just hoping he can “raise an exception” like last time.

You: I’m quite content with my current plan.

Keith M.: I understand that you are happy with your current plan.

Keith M.: Please stay connected while I connect you.

You: And you understand that I’m using it with two smartphones, right?

Keith M.: Yes, I do.

Keith M. has left the chat

You are being transferred, please hold…

Agent Laurie B enters chat

Laurie B: Hi, I am Laurie, Supervisor at Sprint Chat support. Please allow me a few moments to review your interaction.

You: Hello, Laurie. Thanks.

Laurie B: Thank you for being online.

Laurie B: I understand you wish to activate Samsung Epic phone on your 5715 line.

You: In short, after some research into what phone would work for me, I just bought two handsets, both locked to Sprint service (since I intended to continue using Sprint, as I’ve been satisfied with service for many years). When I went to activate the first one the way I have done in the past, I found that I will not be allowed to do so. Keith tells me I need a new plan in order to activate a smartphone. I’m happy with the old plan, on which I’m using two smartphones.

Laurie B: I would like to confirm that as Keith mentioned, the phones need Everything Data plan to be activated. This is a system requirement.

You: Keith told me that last time I activated new phones, an exception was raised. Could you please raise an exception again? I don’t need a new plan, whether Sprint would prefer me to have one or not.

You: I’m happy with the current plan. If I was not, I would have shopped for phones from all carriers, and shopped for plans from all carriers.

You: I was never told that my plan was a dead-end unless I wanted to keep using Treo 650 smartphones.

Laurie B: We appreciate your business and willingness to continue using Sprint services, however the phone would require Everything Data plans to be activated.

You: Could you explain the phone’s requirement of such? I suspect (though admit this is a guess) that this is simply Sprint policy, not a requirement of the phone.

Laurie B: Yes, it is Sprint policy and systems have been enabled as such that it would not activate smartphones without changing the plan to Everything data or Simply Everything.

You: Well, then the policy must not have been in place when I activated the Treo 650’s a year or two ago.

You: Is it a new policy?

You: Where can I read about it?

You: (Also, it the plan happens to be a better value for me, by all means, try to sell me on it.)

Laurie B: Smartphone customers on average use 10x more data than an average feature phone. Therefore, to activate these phones, the plan needs to be updated to Everything data or Simply Everything.

You: I’m already using *two* smartphones, and have been for years.

You: I haven’t used a feature phone since like 2002.

You: Or ’04? Whenever the Treo 600 came out.

You: Sorry for the barrage of questions. This was completely unexpected, and I’m trying to juggle work with getting my phone activated.

Laurie B: You are right that earlier you were able to activate Smartphones with any of the available plans. However, this policy has changed.

You: My plan was not an available plan when I activated the Treo 650’s a couple years ago.

You: And I was never told that my plan was only good for certain phones.

Laurie B: Ok.

You: I would appreciate a reference to this policy you referenced. Also, maybe we should start comparing my current plan with your suggested alternative.

Laurie B: I am working on it. Please allow me few more moments.

You: I’m very concerned about changing, then finding out that the new one is not equivalent. Words like “unlimited” and “everything” raise red flags with me, as they typically mean anything but. I don’t even need “unlimited” just whatever I’m already using, really.

Laurie B: Thanks for waiting.

You: You’re welcome.

You: Thanks for researching.

Laurie B: The policy for requirement of Everything Data plans was introduced couple of years back.

Laurie B: However, we did not make any changes to already active Smartphones. The new policy is applicable while making changes on the account.

Laurie B: Even our website tells our customers about the plan requirement with Smartphones.

You: Huh. Well I have a Treo 650 that was dropped in salt water and is now dead, and a nice new Samsung that I may not be able to use. I can get another Treo for like $20, which is nice, but Android has some nice privacy features I can’t get on Palm.

You: I don’t regularly poll your website for information about the plan I’ve been using for nearly a decade. :)

Laurie B: I understand that. However, even if you switch to another Treo, you would be required to update the plan.

You: So you’re telling me I need to either get another Treo, change my Sprint plan, or move to another carrier?

You: Oh.

You: Okay — not intending to be difficult, here, just concerned that I’m about to be screwed. Can we compare the old plan and new, tell me what I’d be losing/gaining, how much more I’d have to pay?

You: Also, my intent was to change the second handset as well, once I got everything squared away regarding this first one.

You: Please keep in mind that I’m already paying extra for whatever you call your 3G data service.

You: per phone

You: So this is quite unexpected.

You: I mean, there’s a line-item on my bill for data service on each phone.

You: Anyway, let’s hear the bad news so I can compare what you’re offering to that of your competitors.

You: Sorry, wasn’t planning to be shopping.

You: (Or maybe it’s good news!)

Laurie B: The Everything Data 1500 minutes plan is $110.00 for primary line and $19.99 for each additional line. The plan can only be shared between 5 lines.

Laurie B: This plan includes:

•Unlimited domestic calls from the Sprint network to and from any U.S. mobile phone regardless of carrier.

•Unlimited data on our network: Web surfing, email, BlackBerry Internet Services (BIS), GPS navigation, Sprint TV and NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile.

•Unlimited Direct Connect and Group Connect (on capable phones).

•Unlimited messaging: Text, pictures and video.

•Talk: Night calling and weekends starting at 7 p.m., nationwide long distance and no roaming charges.

You: And I’m paying, what, $100/mo for two lines now?

Laurie B: Yes

You: I think I have data roaming to Verizon now (if I didn’t, I’d probably jump to Credo, who are, I’m almost certain, the party EFF are representing in the gov’t snooping case against NSA), and I think one or both handsets has some provision for calls to and/or from Canada.

You: Can you do a comprehensive comparison?

Laurie B: You want a comparison between your existing and current plan?

You: No, I’d like a comparison between 1) the plan I have and wish to keep, and 2) the plan you tell me I’ll need in order to keep using Sprint with anything besides my broken phone or a “feature phone”.

You: (FYI, I’m sure you can’t talk about this on the job, but in case you’re interested, pretty sure this story is about Credo Mobile, who I know use your network, but seem more serious about protecting customers’ privacy than Sprint is: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303567704577519213906388708.html )

Laurie B: Your existing plan has 750 Anytime Minutes whereas new plan would have 1500 Anytime Minutes

You: (“FBI Power to Obtain Phone Data Faces Rare Test”, Wall Street Journal, July 18, 2012)

You: 750 vs. 1500: good, though I typically use about 400 between the two handsets, IIRC

Laurie B: Existing plan has unlimited night and weekend minutes starting 8 PM. New plan would have unlimited Night and weekend minutes starting 7 pM.

Laurie B: Existing plan does not include Anymobile Anytime minutes. New plan has unlimited calling to and from any mobile phone in United States.

You: That’s all good, but again, I use very little voice these days. Mostly text message.

You: and hang out in the mountains where I typically see Verizon svc. but not Sprint

Laurie B: Currently, you have 1000 text messages for each line. With new plan, you would have unlimited texting on each line.

You: That’s nice, too.

Laurie B: I understand that you use very less minutes, however you will have advantage on text messaging front.

You: Sure. Please continue.

Laurie B: Everything Data plan includes unlimited domestic roaming.

You: voice, data, and SMS?

Laurie B: Yes, unlimited data on each line.

You: Okay, so same as I have now, right?

Laurie B: However, you would require $10 Premium data pack also to enjoy unlimited data on Smartphones.

You: I’m already paying that.

You: er, maybe it’s $15 on one, $10 on other, or $10 and $5. I forgot.

Laurie B: Premium data pack is $10 per line non discountable.

You: Wait, so Everything Data does or does not include unlimited domestic voice, SMS, and data roaming?

Laurie B: This will be applicable on Smartphones only. If you have regular phone on any of the lines, you would not need this pack.

Laurie B: Yes, it does.

You: Please assume I’ll be using a smartphone, as I have with Sprint for almost ten years.

Laurie B: Little correction here; it includes unlimited mobile calling. Anytime Minutes will be 1500 if the base price is $110.00.

You: Wait, you said it doesn’t include that, but that it’s and extra-charge addon.

You: Argh. Sorry, I think I’m side-tracking you.

You: Once you’ve completed the comparison, maybe we should just figure out what it will cost me to get the same service I have now.

You: Since that’s really what it comes down to.

Laurie B: I have completed the comparison.

You: You didn’t mention anything about Canada calls or roaming.

Laurie B: These are not included.

You: What’s on my current plan? I thought at lease one line had some provision for such.

You: I live a couple hours from the Canadian border.

Laurie B: If you want to call Canada, you would be required to add $4 International Calling pack that will subsidize your call rates to Canada, however it would not be free.

Laurie B: Even your current plan does not include Canada calling or Canada roaming.

You: Man, I was pretty sure I called about some problem and that was added.

You: Okay, so how much more would I have to pay each month to use the same service I have now, with whatever name Sprint wants to use for the plan?

You: Really, I just want to switch to different handsets like I’ve done every few years for a long long time.

You: And though you’re not saying it directly, it seems that you want to charge me extra for that.

Laurie B: The new plan would not have same service but more than that. It would have unlimited data, unlimited text messaging and unlimited Anymobile Anytime minutes plus night and weekend minutes starting at 7 pm with unlimited domestic roaming.

Laurie B: The cost for two lines would be $129.99 plus $10 for each Smartphone.

Laurie B: In addition, there would be applicable taxes and surcharges.

You: Whoa — so 50% extra if I want the same service? From $100/mo to $150/mo?

You: yeah, i’m talking base charge without taxes and fees you break out and add on

You: That’s a *huge* jump. I was afraid you were going to try to add on 10% or something.

Laurie B: There may be a hike of 50% in base charges, however the benefits are more than 100%. Unlimited text on each phone as compared to 1000 per line, unlimited Anymobile calling, nights stating 7 PM and double Anytime Minutes.

You: (Probably would have been more careful canoeing with my $20 top-of-the-line-circa-2006 smartphone if I new you were going to charge me 50% extra just for activating another of the same phone.)

You: But those benefits don’t seem to benefit me.

You: As far as I can tell, anyway. I know you guys have a “find best plan” thing, so if you can see that this would be a benefit to me, please correct me.

You: I had a bump in usage due to some volunteer work back around Nov-Dec, but outside of that, I’m not generating overages much, and it’s not because i’m holding back; I just don’t need it.

Laurie B: I understand that you are not using too many minutes, however $110 Everything Data plan is the smallest Family plan that we offer for Smartphones.

You: Wait, let’s not talk about $110. We’ve established that to get same service, I’ll need to pay $150 pase, right?

You: s/pase/base/

You: 50% extra to use the same amount of service I use now, with another of the same 2006 smarphone, right?

You: (meaning, if I’d contacted you to activate another Treo 650 instead of this Samsung whatever)

Laurie B: 1500 Anytime Minutes against 750 Anytime Minutes+unlimited Anymobile minutes+unlimited text messaging against 1000 text messages per line+unlimited roaming is not same service.

Laurie B: Therefore, there is a difference in pricing.

Laurie B: Did I answer your question?

You: Q: How much need I pay to use the same service from Sprint that I’ve been using with my current smartphones, only with different smartphones?

A: You’ll need to pay $150/mo plus taxes & fees instead of $100/mo plus taxes and fees.

You: That’s what you’re telling me, right?

You: by “same service” I mean what I’m using, not what each plan is capped at

Laurie B: We no longer offer the plan which is currently active on the account. The new plan which is a system requirement to activate Smartphone has much more features as compared to your current plan and that is why it is priced high.

You: Can you confirm that this is correct?

Q: How much need I pay to use the same service from Sprint that I’ve been using with my current smartphones, only with different smartphones?

A: I will need to pay at least $150/mo plus taxes & fees instead of $100/mo plus taxes and fees that I currently pay.

You: or rather:

Q: How much need I pay to use the same service from Sprint that I’ve been using with my current smartphones, only with different smartphones — even if they’re the same make/model?

A: I will need to pay at least $150/mo plus taxes & fees instead of $100/mo plus taxes and fees that I currently pay.

Laurie B: You will need to change the plan on the account if you are activating a Smartphone and that would be $110.00 plus $19.99 for each line up to 4 lines. In addition, there would be $10 charge per line for Smartphones.

You: I want to be sure I understand you before I go compare alternatives. I would like to know how much need I pay to use the same service from Sprint that I’ve been using with my current smartphones, only with different smartphones — even if they’re the same make/model. I think you’re telling me that I would need to pay at least $150/mo plus taxes and fees in order to do so, which is an increase of at least 50% from what I’m currently paying.

Laurie B: I want to make it clear that new plan would have more than same service.

You: Understood. And we’ve established that I do not seek more, only what I currently have.

Laurie B: The monthly plan would be $129.99 for two lines.

You: Nor do I plan to use more.

Laurie B: And $10 for each smartphone.

You: I thought it was $150 to get to the same available service?

You: Right. So at least $150/mo to get what I’m paying $100/mo now (pluse taxes & fees in each case).

You: …plus some extra stuff I don’t want

Laurie B: There may be additional features which you may not want, however these will come embedded with plan. I am sorry if these are not meeting your expectations.

You: Can you confirm that this is correct?

Q: How much need I pay to use the same service from Sprint that I’ve been using with my current smartphones, only with different smartphones — even if they’re the same make/model?

A: I will need to pay at least $150/mo plus taxes & fees instead of $100/mo plus taxes and fees that I currently pay.

Laurie B: Only if you exclude the Same Service part.

You: It seems I’ve misunderstood you. How much need I pay to use the same service from Sprint that I’ve been using with my current smartphones, only with different smartphones — even if they’re the same make/model?

You: I understand that in order to use the same service, I may need to pay for additional services.

Laurie B: If you will change your handsets, you will be required to change the plan. For two Smartphones on Everything Data plan, the cost would be $149.99 plus taxes and surcharges.

You: Please understand that I don’t care what you call my plan. I want to know what it will cost to keep using what I’m already using, only with a different handset. It seems quite clear that the answer is: 50% extra.

You: But I’m afraid I’m missing something, since you have not confirmed that this is accurate:

Q: How much need I pay to use the same service from Sprint that I’ve been using with my current smartphones, only with different smartphones — even if they’re the same make/model?

A: I will need to pay at least $150/mo plus taxes & fees instead of $100/mo plus taxes and fees that I currently pay.

You: See? The question is not, “What does Sprint Simply Everything for Everyone cost for two smartphones?”

You: It’s, “How much extra are you going to charge me if I want to get the same thing, but with different handsets?”

Laurie B: I am making it very clear that new plan would have lot more features than current plan and it will cost you $149.99 for two Smartphones even if you are not using all its features.

Laurie B: Is there anything else I can assist you with?

You: Please confirm or deny:

Q: How much need I pay to use the same service from Sprint that I’ve been using with my current smartphones, only with different smartphones — even if they’re the same make/model?

A: I will need to pay at least $150/mo plus taxes & fees instead of $100/mo plus taxes and fees that I currently pay.

Laurie B: With due respect, the same service part is not correct here. I have already made the comparison as per your request and it is clearly evident that new plan is not same service but much more than that.

You: I think you’ve told me that in order to get the same service I have now, I’ll have to use a plan that includes additional opportunities. Regardless, it *seems* that such is the only way I can get the same level of service I have now, and that it will cost me 50% extra.

Laurie B: I cannot say that you will pay more for same service as we will be offering lot more with new plan. From your point of view and if you are not using the entire features, the cost would be around 50% more.

You: Imagine that I asked what it will cost to purchase another bushel of apples, and you said, well, we only sell them in three-bushel lots, so that’s going to be $N, but know that you’ll be getting extra apples. My response would be, so, to get a bushel of apples from you, I’ll need to pay $N.

Laurie B: Its the way you want to look at it. You will be getting 1500 Anytime Minutes but if you use only 750, you cannot say that I will compare it with 750 minutes plan and we are charging you extra.

Laurie B: Please do not mind, this is just an example.

Laurie B: Does that answer your question?

You: My coworker suggests I start crying immediately.

You: :-)

You: Really: To get the same level of service I have now, I think you’re telling me that I will need to purchase additional service — that the solution to my problem is a more costly plan, and that it will cost 50% extra.

Laurie B: Currently the $110 plan is the minimum Everything Data family plan that we offer.

You: See? My requirements are less, it seems, than your lowest-level plan, so in order to get the service I have now — changing out one smartphone for another, even of the same make/model — it will cost me $150+fees, just to get what I’m paying $100+fees for now. That you’re throwing in more voice minutes or a smiley sticker isn’t really relevant to me.

Laurie B: Unfortunately, this is the minimum plan.

You: With due respect, I don’t care about “Everything Data family” plan. I just want what I’ve been paying you for regularly for years and years, only with different smartphone than I currently use (or even the same one that I now have corroding with Hood Canal saltwater in it), and you’re telling me it’s going to cost *at least* 50% extra.

You: When I attempt to get you to confirm this, it really, really, feels like you’re using wiggle words to avoid facing that.

Laurie B: I have already confirmed that if you will change the phones, your monthly service charges would be $149.99 plus taxes for two Smartphones on 1500 Anytime Minutes Everything Data share plan.

You: So your company was just waiting for me to switch phones — old one breaks, want something new and flashy, whatever — to force me to upgrade to a *much* more expensive plan, one that offers stuff I don’t use.

You: So:

Q: How much need I pay to use the same service from Sprint that I’ve been using with my current smartphones, only with different smartphones — even if they’re the same make/model?

A: I will need to pay at least $150/mo plus taxes & fees instead of $100/mo plus taxes and fees that I currently pay, and I will have available exactly the same service I have now, and some extra voice minutes.

Right?

Laurie B: The current plan that you have is already expired and we no longer offer it. We did not force our customers to change the plan who already had Smartphone active. However, if you change your phones, you would require to change the plan as well. This is applicable to all Sprint customers for more than two years.

You: I know you don’t set these policies; you’re simply my only connection to Sprint at the moment.

You: But you are, in effect, forcing me to change plans. You’re telling me that now that one of my handsets is damaged beyond repair, I will need to either switch to a “feature phone” or pay extra. Just to keep the same service I have now.

You: And as a consolation, you’re telling me that for *50%* extra, I can use unlimited minutes. I currently use a few hundred, and have no plans to use more.

Laurie B: Everything Data plan is a system requirement and you observed it when you tried to activate the phone online.

Laurie B: I would appreciate your understanding to the fact that I am not forcing you to buy this plan but this is s system requirement.

You: You’re telling me that I can either resurrect my dead phone, go without it, switch to a feauture(less) phone, or pay at least 50% extra each month.

Laurie B: If you do not want to change plan, you can switch to a regular non smartphone.

You: Right. I think you or the other rep called that a “feature phone” earlier, which I take to mean a phone with fewer features.

You: Can you please confirm that this is correct?

Q: How much need I pay to use the same service from Sprint that I’ve been using with my current smartphones, only with different smartphones — even if they’re the same make/model?

A: I will need to pay at least $150/mo plus taxes & fees instead of $100/mo plus taxes and fees that I currently pay, and I will have available exactly the same service I have now, and some extra voice minutes.

Laurie B: With due respect, I have answered this question already and this chat is not heading towards any conclusion. If you do not have any further questions, I will have to disconnect the chat.

You: Is your answer, yes? Also, I would like to be connected with a supervisor. I appreciate your patience.

You: I have not read, “yes, I confirm that this answer is accurate for that question”

You: So with respect, it feels like I’m being manipulated in some way. If you could just confirm my understanding of the situation, or *correctly* answer the question I’ve incorrectly answered (if that’s the case), then I could move on in an informed manner.

Laurie B: I am sorry for the delay. Please allow me a few moments to transfer you to my Supervisor.

You: Thanks.

Laurie B has left the chat

You are being transferred, please hold…

Agent Anderson S enters chat

You: Good afternoon!

Anderson S: Good afternoon.

Anderson S: I am Anderson, supervisor of Laurie.

Anderson S: Please allow me a few moments while I go through the chat interaction.

You: One of my smartphones was damaged, and it has become clear that in order to replace it — even with one of the same make and model — I will have to pay 50% extra per month. This is surprising and disappointing.

You: …assuming that I understand the situation.

You: With Ms. B., I tried to summarize my understanding of what she told me as:

Q: How much need I pay to use the same service from Sprint that I’ve been using with my current smartphones, only with different smartphones — even if they’re the same make/model?

A: I will need to pay at least $150/mo plus taxes & fees instead of $100/mo plus taxes and fees that I currently pay, and I will have available exactly the same service I have now, and some extra voice minutes.

Anderson S: Please allow me a few moments to go through the information provided to you by Laurie.

You: Okay, thanks. I’ll leave this chat up and keep an eye on it while I continue with unrelated tasks.

Anderson S: Sure.

Anderson S: Thank you for waiting.

You: You’re welcome. Thanks for reviewing.

You: So…. Do I really need to pay at least 50% extra to maintain the same level of service with a different smartphone than the smartphones I currently use?

Anderson S: If a customer upgrades/changes a phone to a Smartphone, the price plan change to an Everything Data plan is required by the system. All the customers who are on an old plan with a Smartphone are not required to change the plan unless they change/upgrade a phone to a Smartphone of same or another model.

You: I’m not attempting to upgrade/change *to a* smartphone. I’ve been using smartphones on my plan since about 2004.

Anderson S: You can continue to use the current Smartphone on your account with the same plan that you have. However, if the phones are changed or upgraded to another Smartphone, the plan change is required.

You: Two things have happened: 1) Android offers some privacy protections that are so compelling that I’m ready to stop using Palm and switch, so I purchased a couple used Android handsets, 2) One of my Palm smartphones was submerged in saltwater for about 10 minutes. It’s toast.

You: And when I went to activate a different phone, just like I’ve done in the past when going from a Treo 600 to a Treo 650, or from a broken 650 to another good one, your system said, no, you need to call us.

You: So I got on here and found that you want to charge me 50% extra.

Anderson S: Please allow me a few moments.

You: …that you’re unwilling to maintain the same service with a different smartphone, and that you’ll remove my current cap of 750 minutes (of which I use about 400) for this extra 50% per month.

You: Thanks.

Anderson S: I understand your point. However, the plan change is required by the system to activate a Smartphone. I am sorry that it will not be possible to activate the Samsung Epic phone without the plan change.

You: Thanks, but I wasn’t really trying to make a point. I’m trying to confirm that I understand what your colleagues have told me. Can you confirm the following?

Q: How much need I pay to use the same service from Sprint that I’ve been using with my current smartphones, only with different smartphones — even if they’re the same make/model?

A: I will need to pay at least $150/mo plus taxes & fees instead of $100/mo plus taxes and fees that I currently pay, and I will have available exactly the same service I have now, and some extra voice minutes.

You: or,

A: I will need to pay at least $150/mo plus taxes & fees instead of $100/mo plus taxes and fees that I currently pay, and I will have available exactly the same service I have now, and my current cap of 750 shared minutes will be removed, allowing me unlimited usage of something that I currently use about 400 minutes/month.

You: sorry,

A: I will need to pay at least $150/mo plus taxes & fees instead of $100/mo plus taxes and fees that I currently pay, and I will have available exactly the same service I have now, *except that* my current cap of 750 shared minutes will be removed, allowing me unlimited usage of something that I currently use about 400 minutes/month.

Anderson S: Yes. With the Everything Data plan you will have 400 Anytime Minutes, Unlimited Anytime Anymobile minutes, 7:00 p.m. Night & Weekend Minutes, Unlimited SMS & Picture mail, and Unlimited Data.

You: Wait, so this wouldn’t even add unlimited minutes? It’s actually *the same* as I have now, but costs 50% extra?

You: …not that I care about having unlimited minutes; I’m happy with 750/mo

You: Oh, so this would be a reduction in services.

You: for 50% extra cost

Anderson S: You will have unlimited minutes to any mobile phone. The 400 Anytime Minutes are for calling the landline phones.

Anderson S: The landline calls will be free in 7:00 p.m. Night & Weekend Hours.

You: And that’s the only way to keep at least the same level of service I have now with a different handset — to upgrade to a plan that costs *50%* more?

Anderson S: Yes.

You: I was concerned when I saw the message on your site that you might try to slap *another* $10 charge on there, but we’re talking *150%* of what I’m paying now — just to maintain my service.

Anderson S: I am sorry but the plan change will be required to activate the phone.

Anderson S: I also see that you are currently paying a total of $95.00 monthly charges for both the phones.

You: Ah, so it’s actually *more* than 50% increase just to keep the same service.

You: Surely you can see why I would be concerned.

Anderson S: You can also change the plan to $129.99 Everything Data Family plan and $10.00 Premium Data Pack for the Samsung Epic. Thus, there will be an increase of only $44.99.

Anderson S: With this plan you will receive the features of the new plan on both the lines.

You: I’m pretty sure that’s what your colleagues were recommending. So instead of $95/mo for the two smartphones I’ve been using for years, I’d pay $150/mo for two different smartphones.

You: …just to keep the same level of service

You: though you’d throw in some service I don’t need and almost certainly will not use

Anderson S: I can understand your concern about the increase in the charges. However, it is a system requirement to change the plan on activating a Smartphone.

You: I don’t know precisely what you mean by “is a system requirement” so I’m translating it internally to “is a new Sprint policy”.

You: Last time I switched phones, there was no such hard sell.

You: One of the other reps said something about an “exception” being raised last time.

You: I’ve stuck with Sprint because I’m happy with the service. I bought these new-to-me Sprint-only phones used, and I could resell them and get phones for any of the other carriers. You’re seriously telling me you’re going to start charging me more than 50% extra. I’d be nuts not to go shop around. Isn’t there something else you or someone else there can do?

Anderson S.: I apologize for the inconvenience caused to you. However, it is not possible to activate a Smartphone without the plan change to a new plan. Also, I am sorry that an exception can’t be raised for it.

Anderson S.: I know your time is valuable and I would like to assist you in resolving any questions you have. Would you like to continue chatting with me today?

Anderson S.: I haven?t received a response from you so I will be disconnecting our chat. If you require additional assistance, please visit sprint.com. Thank you for your business. You?ll receive an email transcript of our chat after the session ends.