How Sprint recovered from this keyboard catastrophe

By | January 31st, 2016

Bethany Tully likes to feel the sensation of pushing a button on her phone. But what happens when the button doesn’t push back?

A long-time Sprint customer, Tully’s third Android model in a row with mechanical keys died an unceremonious death. No one at the local Sprint store would help her.

Fed up, she went to our forum –- and from there, the corporate office via Twitter.

Sprint finally had its chance, and made it up to her big time by not only offering one of its best and newest phones at their expense, but even teaching her how to use it.

I admit, I’m also hooked on a mechanical keyboard, also called a QWERTY keyboard. (I’m in a twelve-step program for treatment.) While I can use touch screens, my meaty fingers find a tactile satisfaction and precision in pressing down an actual key.

But it is so…well, so Blackberry (gasp). It turns out Tully and I are not alone.

Not your parents’ telephone

Flip phones were once designed just for –- wait for it! –- making phone calls. But today’s smartphones are fully-functional miniature computers. The digital gorilla in the room is that customer satisfaction, or dissatisfaction, can depend on the learning curve and human guidance, rather than if the product works.

Tully went through three QWERTY phones in a row at her expense before any contract renewal benefits could provide a replacement. She was not impressed by the impractical and “hard-sell” phone insurance which can reveal a net long-term cost more than the phone.

“I have been with Sprint for nearly 20 years,” Tully explains. “In 2013/2014 I ordered three phones. They are older phones, but I was addicted to the keyboard. After the first one went bunk, the rep talked me into buying the replacement insurance when I purchased the second one.

Related story:   I emailed. I called. I Facebooked. I Tweeted. And my AirAsia refund is still missing!

“After the second one went bad, it turned out the insurance was bogus because the cost of the phone was cheaper than the deductible,” she continues. “I bought the third one because they assured me the phones should not be doing this. When the third one started showing sluggish signs I had seen in the other two, customer service offered me no solution.”

Navigating the confusing warranty and usage plans by the carrier can be a topic unto itself. Sprint’s basic return and exchange policy leaves what happens after 14 days unclear. Enter its Total Equipment Protection Plan to fill the gap. However, it started at a minimum of $9.00 a month with a $50 or more non-refundable deductible –- and with two tiers of coverage depending on how much you spend.

What if you don’t want the additional phone insurance? The nebulous terms then indicate exchange costs anywhere from a $75 repair fee to full phone cost. Also buried here is that even with the protection plan, a third phone exchange within 12 months incurs a $25 fee on top of the deductible. Add to that Sprint’s guidance on the phone manufacturer’s own warranty services with no explanation of when that might apply relative to Sprint’s warrranty.

  • jim6555

    Wow, twenty years with Sprint. I didn’t think that anyone could put up with their combination of poor signal coverage and lousy customer service for that long. This woman should be given a new free phone anytime she asks for one.

    By the way, I tried Sprint about five years ago. I live near a highway which is a major commuter route. Because of major cell usage on the highway during the afternoon rush hours, it was almost impossible to make or receive calls during those times. After three days of experiencing this problem, the phone was returned to the Sprint store and my contract was cancelled. I went back to T-Mobile and have experienced no rush hour problems.

  • Rebecca

    To be fair, this sounds like more of a manufacturer issue than a Sprint issue. I’m sure the keyboards were wearing out. I’m glad Sprint replaced it, but they don’t actually make the phones.

    I have found that getting a screen protector is pretty much mandatory for me. The $20 it costs to get a quality one on top of my screen has paid dividends. When I would have cracked my screen, and rendered my phone unusable, the protector cracked instead. Well worth it, and anyone clumsy like me should definitely get one on their screen. Most places will put in on for you, and if you crack it, they replace it at a discount.