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ENTER THE NET: Refurb phones don’t help me

January 16, 2013

By David Hughes

One of the things I value when dealing with a company is customer support services and do they listen when you call with a problem. Sprint has been my wireless phone carrier of choice for nigh onto 15 years – despite some of their delivery problems.
I felt through the years their pricing police were fair (as can be expected from this type company) and the fact they still offer unlimited data for a flat rate.
The phones purchased throughout have worked well and as I progressed to using my cell handsets on a daily basis more for data than voice, the phones worked well and I had limited connection with tech support.
When I did have a problem it – was – solved fast and in a professional manner … note the past tense in the previous sentence.
Several years ago Sprint modified its data plan pricing to mandate that if your phone had the capabilities to utilize the much faster Phase 4 speeds then you paid a $10 per month surcharge. The dirty little secret is “capable,” and if your area did not have towers with the faster speeds yet you still had to fork over an extra $120 in surcharges every year.
Hope springs eternal and we have three phones on Sprint in our household with two of them being the relatively new HTC EVO 4G-LTE devices. Oh, they are wonderful device and much faster and with more onboard memory than our previous devices.
My wife uses my one year younger handset because she does not utilize the Internet all that much.
The new LTE phones have great screens and what I consider a “must,” a micro SD card slot to hold my 65 megabytes of external memory on which I keep music, photographs and other goodies such as my growing Kendall library of e-books.
All of the former being said, I am on my second device because the first one suddenly decided it was not going to work with Wi-Fi at all any longer. Since more than 90 percent of my net interaction is using high-speed Wi-Fi that would not do.
I have always kicked in for the very reasonable cost of their so-called “insurance” which helps grease the wheels if there are technical problems with a phone and it was replaced without hassle last month. It only took a couple of days to receive another phone by mail and a few hours transferring files and apps from one to the other.
The only fly in the ointment was the phone was replaced with what they called a refurbished and factory reconditioned handset. Since the original unit was less than three months old I suggested perhaps I should receive a new device.
Using soothing voices I was told to “try” the used phone – plus it was their policy to replace handsets with refurb units.
Since I am a “go along to get along type guy” this late in life I acquiesced and used the replacement phone.
From the get-go it had an annoying problem of spontaneously resetting and doing a full restart a few times a day. While the quirk was disconcerting, I defaulted to the “go with the flow” and put up with it.
Monday evening as I was waiting for my wife to get off work it did it again, but this time it did not resurrect itself from the dead. I tried everything to no avail and it finally broke down and called Sprint tech support.
That experience was akin to taking a trip on Dante’s train.
Part of my life included working as a tech support technician and later manager of customer service for a large Internet company in the DC area. I always taught my techs to listen to customers and not rely strictly on the script. Users who have a more technical background will usually have tried the obvious fixes and it was a waste of the customers’ time and that of the tech to blindly make them do it again just because the script said to do it.
Finally I was told to try a “secret “way to unlock the phone by holding down two specific buttons and the tech could “reset” my phone over the net. I asked how it was possible when the phone would not power up … how was it going to communicate with no power.
Yet, it didn’t work – as I predicted.
Finally it was agreed the phone was busted and would be replaced. That’s when the war began. I reiterated my demand for a new phone, but that demand was negated by repeated “it is our policy” retorts. I finally asked to speak to a supervisor.
“I’ll try and find one,” and with that I was placed on hold for about 10 minutes and then the phone rang for a transfer. I heard, “the line is busy, please redial,” a click and then my dial tone.
Cut off.
So I tried again, many profuse apologies and 12 minutes of total silence...
Third time as the charm – sort of. By the time I reached a supervisor I was told I was in the wrong department and unfortunately, the correct department closed at 9 p.m.
Well, I vented for 15 minutes (relatively politely) and I was promised a call back the next day which I did receive.
However, after all that, I was again sent face-first into the “policy” wall and I will be receiving a new refurbed phone in a couple of days.
Please pray of this device that it will last more than a month (grin).
Thanks for your time this week and if you have any questions or column subject questions or problem with your computers or peripherals drop me an email at dhughes248@gmail.com.

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