Welcome to the first of what will be many Five Years Later editorials. PhoneNews.com is about to turn five years old, and we’re going to point out the problems… which we’ve been pointing out for the past five years. These are issues that the industry still doesn’t seem to get right on… and the fixes are so simple, we feel compelled to point out, that we’ve been pointing them out.
Today’s article takes a first-hand look at Sprint TeleSales, a chronic sign of the cancer that still infects the company.
Sprint TeleSales handles all orders made over the phone, and placed online. Over the past five years, we’ve pointed out their problems. From issuing returns, exchanges, even new orders… the process has been perpetually broken. Selling a phone should be the most basic operation for a carrier. Unfortunately, for Sprint, this process has been one of the most brutal and difficult for customers.
Over the past five years, we’ve heard hundreds (yes hundreds) of complaints about lack of customer service from TeleSales. From lost orders, to lost shipments, to lost returns… even to returns that never were refunded. Customers paying with credit cards find their credit cards not refunded, but stuck with several hundred dollar credits on their account, even to refusing to issue checks to fix those problems.
Sprint will tell you that those problems are in the past. But, are they? We decided to find out.
I’ll keep this short. I took my new, albeit defective Motorola Q9c (which was ordered online to get SERO) in to a Sprint Store to do an exchange. I’m told the new policy requires them to get an email from TeleSales before they can handle it.
Great, so on to the phone with TeleSales. Problem is, the store doesn’t have the number. On to customer care…
Customer Care… I ask for TeleSales. Guess where I get to? Technical Support. Tech Support bounces back to Customer Care. Customer Care takes 15 minutes, and finally gets me the right number (which is going on the Encyclopedia Phone Numbers section right now).
Problem? It’s taken 30 minutes to get the number… and the store has closed.
Fast forward from yesterday to today. After another half hour on the phone with the “right” TeleSales number. I finally have my return confirmation email. This is not taking into account the initial hold time, it took a half hour of talking with a human being to process the return.
To add insult to injury, it appears nobody ever printed out the return authorization form that TeleSales has recently implemented. It refused to print properly at all on my Mac, and did not even format properly in Outlook on my PC. You would think a multi-billion dollar company would print-test the emails they send to countless customers every day. But, this is just one more example on the many myself, my staff, and most importantly… readers, customers, have already exhibited.
This is indicative of the cancer that Sprint has right now. This is why they are $29 billion in the red (last quarter alone). If a customer has to spend an hour on the phone (sans hold times)… to exchange a phone… then you can see why the company is losing money quickly.
I don’t blame the CEO (Dan, Gary, or Whoever), I blame the heads of customer service. I’ve personally been outspoken about TeleSales woes for five years now. It’s still broken. If buying a phone, returning a phone, or exchanging a phone you ordered from Sprint isn’t as simple as buying, returning, or exchanging a phone at any other carrier… what do your customers want to do?
Some have questioned why I did not take Sprint executives to task on this. While the buck absolutely does stop as the President & CEO’s desk, Sprint has a revolving door of Vice Presidents that have levied nothing but apathy in regards to issues like this. That is a much more systemic problem in leadership that Sprint needs to address.
Nextel losses may not be the issue plaguing Sprint. It may be Wireless Number Portability. At least when you port a number from Sprint, to another carrier… you don’t have to deal with TeleSales.