January 12, 2016
published by: Matt Reinschmidt
Why Sprint Stinks and Apple Bites
In 2014 I bought an iPhone 6 Plus at the Sprint Store on Church Road near Liberty Missouri. The package was a lease deal with a 24 month contract and was, I thought, part of Sprint's new iPhone for Life deal. I have also owned 4 previous iPhones back to the original one in 2007, multiple iPods and Apple computers so I'm no hater of Apple, at least until now. I declined the "insurance" Sprint sells because in addition to the monthly charge there's an actual deductible too - making this seem much more like Mob protection money than anysort of advantageous product coverage. Plus, I figured - quite wrongly as I just found out, much to my dismay - that with a consumer product lease agreement the lease wouldn't extend past the product warranty for the device anyway since at the end of 24 months Sprint reclaims the phone and I roll over into another new iPhone.
To give further detail, the iPhone 6 Plus was from day 1 kept inside an Otter shock/scratch proof case and kept away from all water, mud, heck I even left it behind when I worked out so I wouldn't sweat on the thing. And so, despite these precautions and treating the device with kit gloves, after 14 months the phone's touchscreen went dead with not a scratch on it. Thus began my troubles and my now epic level of frustration and aggravation with both Sprint and Apple.
Since the Church Road Sprint Store is about 5 miles from me, I went there to get some firsthand help. I walk in and an iPad wielding store associate greets me and asks what I need help with. I say I've got an iPhone that just stopped working and his demeanor immediately changes, he punches up some stuff on his iPad then says the way for the store's technician (there's only one???) is well over an hour. I say ok, can we check the phone in with you and leave it for whenever the tech can get to it since it doesn't work anyway? The attendant says no, they can't touch the device we just have to wait. Now I'm getting aggravated. Your car, with VIN numbers that attach right to your address and SSN and which still costs 10 or 20 times what an iPhone does, gets left at the service station all the time after you drop it off, but apparently malfunctioning cell phones you can't get any information out of can't be handled like that. I ask what about the next morning and the attendant still says at least an hour wait is normal. Does Sprint think people can just take the day off from work and do nothing but sit around inside one of their dang stores? Seriously, this is most ridiculous, time-vampire put-you-in-your-place way to extent "customer service" I can think of. Since I could not spend the entire rest of the day (the store was full of people waiting to get to that one technician) I decided to go home and see if I could get any sort of help by phone or internet.
So, I tried calling Sprint's customer support line which ended up being a 30 miinute wait then attempting to explain my phone troubles to a representative who clearly did not speak English as a first language. Now, I'm all for immigration and very supportive of people coming here from the rest of the world, but this call center I later determined wasn't even in the western hemisphere so that's a bit aggravating, I mean you don't call customer support and wait on hold for 30 minutes to engage in clever reparte or chit chat, you call because you bloody well need some help. Having to overcome a language barrier is just one more needle stuck in your eye when you least need it.
So the representative says to call a different toll free number and they'll be able to assist me. I call, and another 25 minute hold ensues. Then, the phone gets answered by yet another ESL speaker who again seems to not be anywhere near North America and who proceeds to tell me I just need to go to the Sprint store again because they can't help troubleshoot iPhones, only Apple can do that or the Sprint Store. Now, I'm really feeling the circle-jerk taking effect.
I decide to contact Apple and see what is going on - and so a 55 minute chat session ensues wherein the resolution is I just need to take it to the nearest Apple Store (32 miles away on the Plaza) and have them look at it. I resign myself to this helpless reality and proceed the next day to go to the Plaza Apple store for an 11:50 am appointment and get some help. Driving down there the next day, I walk in the store and there's 50 or more people ALL in there to get technical help with their new or virtually brand new iPhones. I was shocked, this was not a line for new sales but a line for the Genius Bar. So I wait again despite having an 11:50 am appointment. At 12:50 I finally get checked in but then wait another 15 minutes for a technician to come out and look directly at the phone.
Then the moment arrives! A friendly technician starts looking at the iPhone 6 Plus, notices the touch screen flat out doesn't work (the screen lights up and everything else works with the phone, but it doesn't recognize a finger touching the screen) and says yes, that's a problem they are seeing with a faulty connector in the phone between the digitizer and the logic board and there's no way to fix it if it fails, I'm just "unlucky" because the defect showed up outside the original warranty and I didn't want to pay the $200 or whatever for Apple Care or that bogus deductible laden Sprint warranty, so I just need to pay $350 to replace the phone altogether. But that means this is a known product defect and hence a product recall is the right answer, NOT waiting around for the short Apple warranty to expire then sock someone with the "repair" cost (replacement actually) because you should reasonably expect that an Apple product would last 24 months if treated with care, not melt down due to an internal manufacturing defect at 14 months!!!
And then the real kicker, Sprint retains ownership of the iPhone at the end of 24 months so if I pay to fix this thing, I then have to hand a newer phone back to Sprint despite making monthly lease and service payments. I mean, the cars I have leased don't come with a lease that goes past the manufacturer warranty and there's a reason for that, you don't own the doggone car it goes back to the car maker/dealer at the end. And you aren't using this device as a commercial user, you are a consumer. The Sprint iPhone for Life or lease program or whatever you call it is also for consumers and at the end the phone returns to Sprint. So this strikes me as really bogus to stick a consumer user with a loathsome commercial type lease for a jetliner or array of vending machines and then have NO repair options on a device that comes from the maker (Apple) with a time-bomb defect in the screen connector to the logic board.
One thing is for sure, I have completely changed my mind about Sprint and Apple. This August, my wife and I are telling the both of them to go jump in the lake and we will become happy members of the unlocked smartphone and discount no contract carrier like Cricket rather that end up in a trap like this chain reaction cluster bump has been.
#Sprint #Apple #BadCompany #Aggravation #Entrapment