Friday, June 08, 2007

How to make an otherwise reasonable individual want a $500 cell phone.

My current Cellular carrier is Sprint. They’ve never done me wrong, in fact through my former employer I got a little discount on my bill so I’m getting more service than I need for what I’m paying.

However my contract is up and, honestly, I was just waiting for a new phone to come along that I liked. Currently I’ve got an LG something-or-other that is without a doubt the best phone I’ve ever owned. I even have a custom AC/DC ring tone. In the office everyone knows I’m getting a call because Back in Black starts playing.

So last weekend I got a flier in the mail for the new LG Fusic for $29.99. It’s like my phone but is also an MP3 Player, has a camera and does all the multimedia crap that has somehow become associated with telephones in the 21st century. I have yet to explore the option of still getting the company discount by taking the flier into the store, but more on that later.

I decided to do my research and looked up the Fusic online. On Sprint’s website it’s selling for $9.99. When I first became a Sprint customer I found the phone I currently have online, printed out the online deal and took it to the store and got a new phone for the low, low price of $1.99 (plus tax). Trying to leverage the same buying power again I do the same thing.

My first mistake may have been going at noon when everyone on their lunch break was at the Sprint Store buying cell phones. I was a little put off by the attitude of the customer service people. Now I’m not one who likes to be hounded by sales people the moment I walk into a store, but this day I was virtually ignored.

I walked around the store a couple times, stood by the demo of the Fusic, with a smile as if to say “I’m here to give you money!” Then I realized that instead of helping people who were willing to pay for such help there was a rather uninspired kid standing at a podium taking names and putting them up on a big TV screen so you know who is next to be helped.

Finally a tall woman called my name and I told her about the $9.99 deal and how I wanted that phone and to renew my contract. Overwhelmed by the possibility of a new phone for $9.99 (after rebate of course) I forgot to try and leverage my former employer’s name.

But that was a moot point as the girl told me that as of June first they were no longer honoring website deals in the store.

Why not? It’s the same [expletive] company!

Still, twenty bucks is twenty bucks so I try to buy the phone online. Fortunately for me (the sarcasm becomes apparent at the end of this paragraph) there are two options for purchasing the phone online. The first one I tried was for current customers to replace or add a phone. I go through the process, choose my plan and am ready to check out when I notice that this will cost me a total of $60.

I'd like to point out that at this point the only thing keeping me on my quest is the fact that NFL network is an exclusive feature to Sprint.

So next I try to purchase a new phone. Again, I choose my plan, and attempt to check out when they ask my area code so they can assign me a new number.


At this point I ask myself, if I’m an AT&T shareholder why am I using Sprint’s product? So I start browsing the AT&T website, remember they used to be Cingular. And find a very similar phone, a similar plan and at a similar price (actually the phone would be free). Then I realize that if I only wait until June 29 the Apple iPhone would be available.

This, to me at least, would be the ultimate act of defiance to the Sprint Corporation because of their lousy customer care. Yes, over a matter of $20 I’m considering leaving their service to purchase a $500 product that in a year will be half price with more features.

Somehow this experience has made me long for the days when everybody had AT&T phone service. You rented your phone from the phone company and it weighed about fifty pounds and if you missed a call you had to wait for the person to call back. Sure there was only one choice but you didn’t have to go through the hassle of comparing every phone plan out there and using the word [Expletive] out loud in otherwise polite company.


Anonymous said...

I went through something similar last fall. My phone was pretty old, I got the letter saying they would be stopping that kind of (analog?) service next year, and I wanted a new phone anyway. There were never any deals at stores. When I chatted live with a person I would get to a sale point when they would tell me that the certain deal I wanted was for new customers....

FInally I called up customer service to find out when exactly my contract was up (2003!) because I was free and clear to go search out a better deal. THat's when the new plans and deals became available....So now I pay $29. a month instead of $20. Sucks, but at least I can make more than one call before my phone dies....

Anonymous said...

I hope you don't jump into something that expensive without knowing what it will really do. Wait a while--the price will come down and the features will be assured.