Sprinting Away

When I switched from my Treo 755p with Sprint to my iPhone with AT&T I knew I would be paying Sprint’s $150 early termination fee. I had not realized, though it did not come as a complete surprise, that I would not get a prorated credit for the portion of my billing period after the termination (which turned out to be 26 days – almost $37 by my calculations). The thing that did surprise me, however, was that the early termination fee was inflated by $12.71 in “Sprint Surcharges” (“rates we choose to collect from you”) and $10.16 in “Texas State-Sales Tax”.

I called Sprint to ask about the prorated credit and to complain about the surcharges — to no avail, naturally. Next, I sent the following email to the recently publicized dan@spint.com address:

I am writing this email after having just spoken to “Russell” from
Sprint customer service. On July 31st of this year I terminated my
Sprint service of over 10 years. I did so with the full expectation of
paying the $150 early termination fee even though I felt that this fee
should have been prorated based on being 14 months into my contract.

What I did not expect was that I would still be charged for the rest of
my current billing period (August 1 – August 24). Additionally, I was
quite surprised that the $150 termination fee was subject to $12.71 in
Sprint Surcharges and $10.16 in Texas State-Sales Tax. The sales tax may
be unavoidable, though I am surprised that a termination fee would be
subject to sales tax. However, the Sprint Surcharges are pretty clearly
described as relating to service and the termination fee is certainly
not for service.

My final bill only includes the termination fee + surcharges and taxes
because the billing period was pre-charged on the previous bill. Still,
I was fully expecting a credit for the pro-rated amount of $36.66.

 Before I pursue other avenues of grievance, I wanted to give this email
address an opportunity to resolve this issue to my satisfaction. As I
stated, I expected to pay the $150, so I am fine with that. But rather
than the $172.87 that that charge grew to with taxes, I would want my
final bill to be either $113.34 ($150 less the $36.66 pro-rated portion
of the billing period during which I no longer had service) or,
grudgingly, the same amount plus the sales tax — $123.50.

In other words, I would want a credit of $59.53, or at least $49.37.

Thank you for your attention,

After the initial canned response I received the following specific response:

I apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced. The charges
on your account are correct. Since you canceled your account during a
bill cycle then your are responsible for all charges as if you were
going to pay the bill if you didn’t cancel. If there is any other
questions or concerns please feel free to contact me.

Nice — not.

It’s pretty silly — it’s really not much money and I didn’t leave Sprint because of any intrinsic issues, just to get the iPhone. Prior to this billing issue, it’s entirely possible that a few years down the line I would switch back to Sprint. Now, however, I’m very unlikely to do so. For $50-$60, probably less than one month of future service, Sprint is all but guaranteeing that they will not have me as a customer again in the future. Of course, at the rate they’ve been going lately, perhaps they already figure that they have no future.

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  1. #1 by whall on September 6, 2008 - 2:15 pm

    I hereby promise to not use sprint for the 3 personal lines in our household nor the 100+ lines at our place of employment (I run our cell/blackberry program) until this issue is resolved for you.

    whalls last blog post..VLOG Episode #9: Wayne’s 3-minute DITL

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  2. #2 by Ren on September 7, 2008 - 1:45 pm

    Thank you for your support Wayne. I know exactly how difficult that will be for you.

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  3. #3 by Ben on September 7, 2008 - 5:38 pm

    Well, Sprint really has to suck to piss you off this bad; I think it’s fair to say that no one I know has more well-adjusted patience for mediocre service than you (and I really do mean that as a compliment).

    I’m pretty sure there was an inside joke between you and Wayne going on above above that I’m missing. But Mei and I have been pretty unhappy with Sprint too, so we can pledge we’re going to get rid of them as soon as our contact expires (if not sooner). Unless they change our expiration date without telling us, or sign us up for their new exciting feature: “Unlimited lifetime customer indentured servitude.”

    Ben

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  4. #4 by Ren on September 8, 2008 - 10:29 am

    Well, I was already annoyed by having to pay the $150 in the first place (or wait until the spring to get an iPhone). That part is my own fault, of course, particularly since I got the Treo in May of 2007, knowing full well that the first iPhone was coming out but that I wouldn’t be getting it. Heck, if they would give me a monthly discount for not taking a subsidy on the phone purchase, I might have done that.

    Having the $150 effectively grow to over $200 pushed me over the edge. OK, it was a small edge.

    Regarding you switching off of Sprint “if not sooner”, supposedly sometime next year the termination fee becomes prorated.

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