Hey, where did my Sprint discount go?

Michaelstockfoto/Shutterstock
Michaelstockfoto/Shutterstock
When Denise Mendoza “upgrades” her Sprint account, the discount she had for years is gone. Is there any way to get it back?

Question: I’ve been a Sprint customer since 2003. We’ve had our ups and downs, but I was always able to resolve my issues with them. Until now.

I have had a discount with them since 2005. This May, I responded to an offer to upgrade my account at a lower rate.

When I called, they said the offer was for new customers only.

“What about old customers?” I asked. “Shouldn’t you give someone who’s been loyal to you that price?”

A representative agreed to waive the rule and I signed a new two-year contract. The sales manager told me nothing would change on my account, except the rate.

The first bill after the switch was $98, which was weird because I had been paying $80 for a few years. So I called Sprint and they basically told me without incriminating themselves that they’d taken away my discount and I needed to go through a re-verification process. I was dumbfounded.

I have complained to the BBB and the FCC and have appealed to Sprint’s “executive team,” but they refuse to adjust my bill. Can you help? — Denise Mendoza, Los Angeles

Answer: Sprint should have done what it said it would do: offer you a better rate on a two-year contract. The $98 is not a better rate than $80. You would have been better off staying with your old phone service.

Without taking a close look at your old phone bill and a new one — which, by way of full disclosure, I didn’t do — it’s difficult to say why your new phone bill is higher. As part of your “upgraded” contract you may be receiving extra services or a better handset.

But I think we can all agree that you’re paying more for your new two-year contract. And with a little sleuthing, Sprint should be able to pull up your call records and verify that a representative told you “nothing” would change. I think you’re entitled to a little clarification.

Your problem just underscores the maddening complexity of cell phone service. It’s difficult to know how much your phone bill will be from one month to the next even when you’re on the same plan. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say the confusion is meant to squeeze a few more pennies out of subscribers like you. Most customers simply roll over and pay the higher bill.

By the way, the “executive” customer service team wasn’t the last stop on your appeal ladder. You could have taken your case higher up by sending a brief, polite email to one of Sprint’s executives. Email addresses at Sprint are either [email protected] or simply [email protected]

I contacted Sprint on your behalf. It agreed to offer the same discount on your service that you originally had.

Are cell phone bills too complicated?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at . Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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