Early Resolution

Ever since Sprint announced availability of the iPhone, I’ve been swamped with questions and requests for help, primarily from SERO customers. Over the past few months, I’ve probably helped answer or resolve hundreds of customer issues.

I can’t keep it up.

You may have noticed at times that it’s taken me days to respond and I’m sure I’ve totally dropped the ball on some comments or emails.

Unfortunately, for many, I’ve become the default go-to source for any question to Sprint. That’s not a good situation for anyone. You need a more responsive answer (with authority) and I need to get back to my real life.

So, I’m implementing an early New Year’s Resolution. From now on, when I get questions, if they don’t start with “I’ve contacted employee care, but…” then I’m going to respond with “Have you contacted employee care?”

As a reminder, here are the two best e-mail addresses for getting answers to your SERO and EverythingPlus questions:

  • For support questions (questions from existing Sprint customers about your account, upgrading your account, etc.): everythingreferral@sprint.com
  • For sales questions (customers considering becoming a Sprint customer through the EverythingPlus program): everythingplus@sprint.com

Thanks for being a customer and for your patience with me.

Blessings,

Russ

Addendum: As Will notes in the comments, the Community site at sprint.com is also a great place to get help. Claudia wrote in separately pointing specifically to the section of the site best suited for SERO questions:

“The URL for the Plans forum where all SERO/EPRP questions should be asked is http://community.sprint.com/baw/community/buzzaboutwireless/plans.”

37 Responses to “Early Resolution”

  1. Tomas - University Place, WA Says:

    FIRST, thank you very much for being the honest, reliable source of information you have been.

    I fully understand the problem, Russ, and wish you well in reducing the onslaught.

    The sad thing is, however, that you have been the only reliable source of information in this area. Too often each contact with the “folks who should know” generates a different random answer. :(

    Take care, and have a great holiday season and new year!

    Tom

  2. PaulHTX Says:

    Russ,

    You’re a great guy for doing all you have done on the service side. I would suggest putting those email addresses in bold in the subtitle of your page. Otherwise, you will still probably end up with more questions than you can handle. (You’re still going to get some, of course, no matter what you do.)

    As Thomas points out, going to customer service is sometimes a hit-or-miss proposition. But, I will say, thankfully, that has been more hit than miss as Sprint’s customer service has improved.

    Have a great Christmas, Russ! May God bless you and all that you do.

    -Paul

  3. Pete Says:

    Russ,
    I plead guilty to contributing to your work overload, but unfortunately I had gone through the customer service route and had reached out to you out of frustration!

    I sincerely appreciate the additional work that you do for your customers and am happy that Sprint has folks like you!

    I hope that you and your family have a wonderful Christmas and new year! Furthermore, I hope that you don’t see my comment until *after* the new year! Otherwise it means that you are *still* working too hard!

  4. BillG Says:

    Russ,

    Thank you Russ for being an invaluable source of information, especially concerning SERO plan changes and activation. You have helped me stay with Sprint as a long time customer by making me feel more comfortable knowing where i stand with my account.

    Bill

  5. Will England Says:

    Russ – you rock. We’ve been working hard on the Community site to get more technicians and experts onboard; if y’all have questions, comments or concerns, you can also post your thoughts on the Sprint Online Community:

    http://community.sprint.com/

    The posts are all read by Sprint, summaries sent upstream weekly, and the Techs do a great job in helping solve problems.

    That being said – it’s not the best forum for billling issues; it is a *public* forum afterall, and you don’t want to post your account information there.

    Will

  6. @Russ Says:

    I like the recent phone selection Sprint’s been getting. Wimax vs LTE has been killer though. Sprint’s decision to ditch it and develop LTE through Clearwire is great: With one caveat. And it isn’t LightSquared not following standards and using frequencies not allowed for phone signals thus potentially putting even lives in danger.

    As a Sprint re-seller I find it painful that Sprint still offers and continues to make 4G devices. Clearwire hasn’t rolled to a new market for almost a whole year. Coverage is scant. Wimax radios are also a battery killer.

    Customers get what they want but when they come back angry because of the lack of coverage or learning Wimax is very slow 4G standard/being replaced I take the hit.

    I’d strongly advise your company to not make Wimax equipped phones until LTE’s launch. Perhaps selling 3G devices with disabled LTE on-board? Wimax itself is troublesome for customers and sellers.

  7. BJ Says:

    Russ – I have gone through customer service (2 phone calls and a chat). I have also consulted the user forums on Sprint. Unfortunately, there appears to be zero consistency. I’m hoping that you can provide some clarity.

    Basically I have a SERO account that I want to do a TOL with a friend. I’ve been told it’s no problem by both the local store and the first customer care agent. Then I started reading about the mechanics about how it is done in various forums. I came across several people who were told that SERO would not transfer – that the assumer of the contract would be placed on a standard Sprint plan. I called in to confirm and was told the same thing.

    That said, people say to be persistent until you get a rep willing to do it. I’m not trying to gain the system or anything. I just want to know if SERO can be transferred.

    I’ve been told yes and no. Read about people who were successful and those that failed. It’s really frustrating when there is a lack of consistency from a CSR perspective.

  8. Russ Says:

    BJ – best source for answers to questions like this would be everythingreferral@sprint.com

    The answer though is no, SERO accounts can not be transferred. I’ve heard from folks that apparently were the “beneficiaries” of a SERO account holder being persistent and finding a rep willing to to it, then months later the new account holder has their account switched to a normal consumer plan. Especially for someone paying for a TOL’d SERO plan – buyer beware!

  9. Patrick Says:

    Russ,

    I realize that you are moving on from this blog, but hopefully, at some point, you can comment on David Owens remarks about Windows Phone.

    I feel that David is SERIOUSLY misguided here. People don’t want the HTC Arrive, that much is true, but it’s NOT because of the experience of WP7. It’s because the device is pitifully small (really 3.6″ in a sea of 4″+ smartphones?) and very heavy due to the physical qwerty.

    In my opinion Sprint made a very poor choice for a launch device last March with the HTC Arrive. People don’t want phones with a qwerty these days. They want an HTC EVO like device. Something that is 4″+ with 4G. Had Sprint released a 4G version of the HTC HD7, I feel it would have done considerably better. Just look at the LG Quantum on AT&T. It is also a small device (3.5″) with a qwerty. It sold terribly, and why? Because no one wants a small, chunky device with a keyboard. The reason the HTC EVO has sold so well, is because it is in a form factor that people want, plain and simple.

    The Arrive’s failure can not be blamed on Microsoft’s lack of marketing. This was Sprint’s decision (on the form factor) and is Sprint’s fault, in my estimation. If you read the reviews of the Arrive, people have nothing but good things to say about the OS experience. Most complaints are about the device itself. It’s too heavy, it’s too small. Sprint controls that, not Microsoft.

    If you give us a Windows Phone that we want, and we will buy it.

    Thanks, and I look forward to your comments, when you have time.

  10. BJ Says:

    Thanks Russ. I really appreciate the response.

  11. Russ Says:

    Patrick – I’m not going to comment on David’s comments. I haven’t even seen them. What I do know, as the strategy guy, is that every company has to make decisions about resource allocation – that requires prioritizing, selecting, and deselecting. These days, there are four mobile OSes worth discussing – Android, iOS, Blackberry, and Windows. As the #3 player, Sprint has fewer resources to apply, so it’s more critical for us to make good decisions about where we focus our investments. In the past, we’ve been willing to go against the crowd and bet on unproven OSes. Some of those have been good bets (being one of the original Android supporters). Some have worked out less well (WebOS). For now, there’s no opportunity to gain a differentiation advantage by taking a risk on Windows, so we’re better off focusing most of our resources on proven market winners (iOS and Android).

  12. Patrick Says:

    Russ,

    Thanks again for taking time to respond. I certainly understand the need to place resources where they will work. That certainly makes sense.

    As a 6+ year subscriber, I’ve just grown tired of the frustration that comes with Android (fragmentation, lack of device updates) over the last two years, which pushed me to Windows Phone (and provided a better experience for me). I certainly am in the minority on this, but I just wanted to share my feedback with you.

    Hopefully in the future, Windows Phone will be a better fit for Sprint.

    Thanks again, Russ, for commenting. I know you’re a busy guy and I appreciate you taking the time to engage with all of us.

  13. PaulHTX Says:

    Russ,

    I would like to respond to Patrick’s comments about qwerty phones, and the failure of the Arrive.

    I think some people think too much about the form factor when it comes to the success of a phone. There have been, even in recent memory, slider and qwerty phones that have been successful for Sprint and other carriers. Of course, they were all Android phones. But I’m sure some would say that the operating system had nothing to do with their success.

    I think that says it clearly enough.

    Oh, and did you know webOS still has a larger userbase than WP7?

    Just sayin’.

    -Paul

  14. Russ Says:

    Thanks PaulHTX.

    I also want to clarify a phrase I used in my response to Patrick.

    I said that “there’s no opportunity to gain a differentiation advantage by taking a risk on Windows.”

    When we took a bet on WebOS, it was based on a long history of success with Palm, and we were going to be the only carrier with an exciting new operating system for at least 6 months. So, by betting on WebOS, we could be differentiated from our competitors.

    Similarly, when we were one of the original members of the Open Handset Alliance, T-Mobile was also a member, but AT&T and Verizon were fundamentally opposed to the open concepts represented by Android. By supporting Android, we could differentiate against the Big Bells. (Now, by the time Android reached a meaningful level of maturity, Verizon woke up to the opportunity/threat and entered in a big way, but when we made our initial bet, there was an opportunity for differentiation…)

    With Windows Phone, there’s no similar opportunity to get out ahead of our competitors as both T-Mo and AT&T are being fairly aggressive with the OS.

    I hope that helps…

    Russ

  15. Ryan Slaback Says:

    Russ, I wanted to note in regards to the post above that apparently Sprint does indeed have some work to do on getting all the reps trained to answer SERO questions correctly. This past Sunday I called to ask about upgrading from my Standard SERO plan to a SERO +. I asked the rep twice if the Samsung Transform Ultra would fall under the $40 smartphone plan. Both times he assured me that since it was a 3G phone the total bill would be $40. In his words “$50 plan is only for 4G phone and iPhone.” I got the phone today, activated it and noted on my account summary online that my account had a $10 premium data add-on. The phone rep who activated it didn’t say anything about the $10 premium data add-on either.
    After chatting first with Patti about it and then on the phone line with Lisa. I was very disheartened to know that even after I was essentially lied to by the telesales rep the best Sprint could do for me was to waive the restocking fee to take the Ultra back.

    I just don’t know as a consumer how to make a good decision if you ask the right questions, at the right time but still end up with bad information.

    Ryan

  16. Russ Says:

    Ryan – I apologize for the bad experience. I’ve forwarded your note on and it will be raised today in a call with all telesales reps. Thanks for sharing so that others hopefully won’t have the same bad experience.

  17. Jason K. Says:

    Russ, with the SERO Premium service practically useless as there are no 3G “premium” devices anymore and a line drawn for future 3G devices requiring an extra add-on shouldn’t Premium technically be removed as a plan and rather there just be one step from regular SERO to Sero with Premium Data.

    As of now SERO Premium doesn’t have a basis to exist in the future but is a hollow extra charge from Sprint as I presume 3G devices aren’t really going to be comming out from 12′ onward.

    I’d be disappointed if this charge stayed without a reason. Most of us who switched carriers to you guys even after the Nextel fiasco would be,

  18. Jung Deere Says:

    Email seems to have no clue. Is the BlackBerry® Bold™ 9930 a SERO/ SERO Premium device? Store employees say it needs a premium data plan+ SERO Premium for a total of $90 for my line since I have extra minute pack added.

  19. Russ Says:

    Jason – I could be wrong (often am), but I think there are still some smartphones available that are SERO-P without premium data. In any case, we aren’t going to do away with the extra $20 to go from SERO to a modern smartphone. If you don’t like the fact that we split it into two chunks, I’m sorry for that. Most folks around here are appreciative of the fact that Sprint has grandfathered existing SERO customers and not ended the program, and even more that those customers have the opportunity to upgrade to a smartphone without switching to the plans that most customers can choose from (which are still great values…). I’m sorry that you can’t appreciate that.

  20. Russ Says:

    Jung – I’m told that the BB 9930 requires SERO-P but not premium data. (Thanks for providing an example for Jason.)

  21. Mike Derice Says:

    Hey Russ,

    Just wanted to say thanks for everything! I’m one of those who was originally on Sero, upgraded to the Sero Premium to get the HTC arrive, and I love the arrive. Hopefully Windows makes another smartphone, and that i’ll be able to stay on it, i’m big on the keyboards! I’ve been with sprint for 8 years and 5 months! Obviously I’m happy, and plan on never leaving sprint…. I will try to get my girlfriend on some form of Sero Plan, to prevent her for leaving…reception sucks in her area and she’s always roaming…but i love sprint.

    Thanks Russ

  22. Matt Says:

    Russ,

    I noticed Baltimore MD was just added to the LTE areas Sprint plans to begin LTE service in the next few months.

    Any idea when the Northern VA area will get LTE? I am sure Sprint customers nationwide are curious of their areas as well. Can you see if you can obtain information on projected timeframes and locations of when/where these Sprint LTE markets will be?

    Also, do you know if there will be any additional LTE fee associated with the LTE service? I am hoping the two extra $10 fees I pay now won’t be increased. Customer care did not have any answers for me on either of these topics, so I am hoping you can help. Thanks for your help, and for being so responsive and helpful throughout the years.

  23. Russ Says:

    Matt – sorry, but as I’ve said before, I enjoy working at Sprint. I can’t share any information about 4G markets beyond what has been announced. Your reference to two extra $10 fees implies to me that you’re a SERO customer. I don’t believe we’ve announced anything about LTE pricing in general and certainly haven’t given any indication of what LTE means for SERO customers.

  24. Michael Says:

    Russ. Since SERO doesn’t run anymore I had a quick question. My son finds his plan a little too high so he wants to go the prepaid carrier route. I know in a year or two when he wants a good phone for a decent $$ plan he’ll want SERO again. If he closes his line can he come back a year or a couple after and reactivate his same # and have SERO since he’ll still be on my account?

  25. Russ Says:

    Michael – unfortunately, once you give up a SERO line, you can’t get it back.

  26. Danny Says:

    Sup Russ. Owner of a 4S and Galaxy Nexus here.

    For the iPhone, glad you guys introduced Sprint tv. Always been a great app and having ESPN with all great sports is waay better than the useless NFL deal. Any plans for Sprint Navigation to also be included? Best GPS ever. And that Sprint gives it for free is awesome. But none have it for the 4S.

    Galaxy Nexus too is a good phone, iffy Sprint didn’t make Samsung make the screen pentile, fix the radios from Verizons, and added a modern processor, plus the battery life issues. Still good phone….

    Will Sprint make its VVM app available on the market for it?

    Sprint nav for iPhone, VVM for Galaxy. me and others are clamoring and can’t wait for your response Russ!!

  27. Danny Says:

    I ment non-pentile screen. Oops

  28. David Erwin Says:

    Hello Russ,

    I know you are a busy man Mr, McGuire, an I apologize for taking your time. I’ve contact customer care several times on this issue.

    I’m writing because I signed up for a Sprint SERO several years ago. I called today (and was on the phone for over 2 hours with 6 or 7 different representatives) because I am interested in upgrading from my grandfathered Sero plan to SERO Premium. I am having a very, VERY difficult time doing so because each person I talk to seems to be unfamiliar with this plan and it’s pricing. Each one wants to move me to an “Everything Data” plan which is an altogether different thing. They don’t seem to know I’m on SERO, even though the reason I signed up for Sprint was because of the referral offer in 2006.

    My plan EXACTLY matches the SERO plan offered to me when I signed up, but for some reason my bill doesn’t say SERO on it. And because my plan does not say SERO on the account info page (should it?), each Sprint employee I’ve spoken with (9 or 10 total so far) has been unable to change me to SERO Premium.

    My ultimate goal is to upgrade my plan to SERO Premium and purchase the new HTC Evo LTE. Any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

    I love Sprint’s cell service, but your customer service has been abysmal. If it were possible to not speak to anyone at all, it would be preferrable. Spending hours on the phone and retelling my story over many, many transferred calls is profoundly frustrating.

  29. Russ Says:

    David – I apologize for the frustrating experience. Most of our customer service reps aren’t trained on SERO. It hasn’t been offered for years and relatively few customers have it.

    Have you followed the instructions here?: http://mcguireslaw.com/2010/11/09/finally-a-solution/

  30. Nichole Lockman Says:

    Hello Russ,

    I just wanted to start off by saying thank you for this blog. You must be extremely busy and the fact that you personally respond to readers is amazing. I think it’s very courageous that you would put yourself out in the public eye for your customers.

    Much like David Erwin above me, today I experienced horrible customer service on the main Sprint lines, definitely not your fault. Long story short I tried to sign up for an Everything Plus plan because my current Sprint contract expires next week, 10/17. Everything went through, ordered two phones, two lines (I’m currently on an individual, regular plan, one line) received a receipt then got an email that my account was on hold and that I should call to resolve the issue. I then went through 8 different people over the course of four hours trying to figure it out. Only the eighth person could tell me that I needed to be transferred to employee services at 888-876-8381. After four hours of being on the phone I had to call it a night with the phone. I was wondering if you might be able to answer a question but no worries if you can’t:

    Should I just let my original Sprint account expire then sign up for the Everything Plus Plan? That way it’s a new account, correct? 6 of the 8 employees said that what they would do is “upgrade” my account but from what I’ve read on your blog, on the Everything Plus website and on the Sprint forums this is not what happens and going this direction is extremely complicated, apparently.

    I am very sorry to bother you again. Mostly just wanted to thank you for your generosity, information and time. I have also emailed everythingreferral@sprint.com explaining it all.

  31. Russ Says:

    Nichole – as you seem to be aware, existing lines can’t be moved to the Everything Plus plan, not even at the end of their term. When you say you’ll let your account “expire”, I think that means that you’ll cancel your service. You can certainly sign up for new lines under Everything Plus (assuming the credit check goes through and all that), but these will have new phone numbers.

  32. Susan Says:

    I read on the website “Friends Don’t Let Friends Pay Full” that you can enter a special referral shop by using a sprint employee’s referral info, which can get you UP TO 25% of for life. It says that this info was posted by Russ McGuire himself on his blog.

    It says to

    1) Copy and Paste Sprint/Everthing Plus (SM) Referral Program
    Spirnt employee

    2) email address: Russ.S.McGuire@Sprint.com

    3) Last 3 digits of Employee ID: 383

    How much do you really save with this, and is this information you pu on the Sprint Discount Program Eligibility Verification and Service Agreement Form?

  33. Russ Says:

    Susan – please see http://sprint.com/everythingplus I think it will answer all your questions.

  34. Jim Says:

    Hi Russ,

    I have no questions nor queries, just a great job well done over the years of answering User’s questions no matter how asinine they may be. I have a BB9930 and am looking forward to the Q10 when it is introduced later this year. As a SERO + P customer, I know my bill will jump another $10 for the LTE capability of the Q10.
    I have been with Sprint (former Nextel customer) since 1999, and the service I received over the years range all over the map. However these past few years with the internet categorized and indexed, questions I have were already answered by someone else. It was when I exhausted all revenues of search / appeals did I find your weblog, it has been an exciting find for me. Thank you for the hard work you put into this weblog.

    Jim

  35. Russ Says:

    Thanks Jim. Happy to help.

  36. Mike D Says:

    Hey Russ,

    Hope all is well. Been following you for over 5 years and you’ve done a great job with everything. Just wanted to double check something(forgive me for being lazy didn’t want to read all comments) I’m currently on the Sero premium plan($40/per month). Currently have the HTC Arrive, would’ve stick with this phone, as i like it, but no update from Windows for the device, so now i’m looking into the Q10. I spoke to a sprint representative from Sero accounts and she said purchasing the Q10 i can still remain on my current plan…just wanted further clarification on it.

    Thanks Russ,

    Been with Sprint for 10 years! Don’t plan on leaving(as long as i have Sero :-D)

    Mike D

  37. Russ Says:

    Mike D – the Q10 shouldn’t be any different from any other smartphone.

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