I Heart Sprint

Last week my cell phone suddenly lost most of its ability to make and receive calls. The nature of the glitch suggested that it was a problem with Sprint’s all-digital wireless network built from the ground up. My phone kept getting booted off Sprint’s network and into roaming land, so my initial concerns were about my monthly bill (which is already a little bit out of control).

I sent the following message to support:

Dearest Sprint,

Lately your Sprint Network coverage within the 97031 zip code has been extremely spotty. Normally I get an extremely strong on-network signal when I’m in town, but for the last couple days I’ve been experiencing some rather frustrating trouble.

Frequently when I go to place a call, my Sprint Network signal suddenly drops to zero. As the call starts dialing, I’m suddenly on Digital Roam, or even (gasp!) Analog Roam. Thus, I am being forced to “roam” even though I’m well within Sprint territory, and well within my usual locales when placing calls.

I assure you that my home or office have not suddenly relocated themselves to places that would have spotty Sprint reception, nor have I wrapped my home or office in tinfoil or lead shielding or other such things that would interfere with signal strength.

No, nothing has changed except for the signal quality and reliability that I am currently receiving from Sprint. I will allow that it might be a problem with my cell phone itself, but beyond turning it off and on again, there really isn’t a whole lot of diagnosing I can do in that regard.

That said, the reliability of your “all-digital wireless network built from the ground up” has suddenly become very questionable. I suppose this is a long way of saying that when my next bill shows up, I will dispute any and all “roaming” charges that have resulted from the instability of your own network.

Yes, I know that my plan includes “free” roaming off the Sprint Network. However, I also know that while you don’t charge me for “roaming” when I make/receive calls off your network, you do nick me for “long distance” charges, which are normally included when I use your network.

Claiming that you offer “free roaming” when you simply charge for “long distance” in its place is merely a clever game of marketing semantics, as you are effectively charging for the exact same thing. Thus, I shall dispute any charges for either roaming or long-distance.

Take care, and have yourself a lovely day.

Dane Petersen

Not long after, I received the following response:

Dear Dane,

I apologize for the inconvenience caused by the coverage issues. Thank you for contacting Sprint together with Nextel in this regard.

Since your plan includes roaming, the long distance calls made withing U.S. would not be charged even while roaming. However, the long distance calls made to outside the U.S. would be charged irrespective of roaming.

I have checked through our resources and noticed that we have good coverage in your area.

We understand that in spite of the good coverage, you are experiencing service related problems. To resolve this matter, we need to create a trouble record for this issue. Therefore, I have forwarded your case to the appropriate department. One of our specialists will call you within the next 48 hours (on your Sprint number) to assist you.

Our specialist will take the required information, which is used by Sprint engineers to improve the network. Each month we add or improve hundreds of cell sites based upon the information received. Thank you for reporting this situation and we will do everything we can to resolve this issue.

Thank you for contacting us. Have a great day.

Abel R.

Sprint together with Nextel
“Where our customers come first!”

Refer someone to Sprint and get $25.
Visit www.sprint.com/referralprogram for details.

I wrote a reply the following day, by which point my troubles had, well, progressed:

Dearest Abel,

Thank you for your response. I will take you at your word that I will not be charged long distance for my calls placed to destinations in the U.S. while roaming within the U.S. That said, Sprint has given me plenty of reasons to be distrustful of our relationship with one another, so please don’t take offense as I brace myself for other hidden charges that we haven’t discussed here.

In the time since I wrote my original message, my troubles with Sprint have progressed from mildly irritating to downright infuriating. In an effort to “force” my phone to use Sprint’s network (which according to my phone has strong signal coverage, despite evidence to the contrary) I have disabled both analog and digital roam.

As a result, only about 25% of the outgoing calls I have been trying to make actually go through. The rest result in errors ranging from “The network is busy, please try again later,” to “No service available.”

Additionally, I’m receiving frequent voice mails from calls that never even caused my phone to ring. I would estimate that at least half of my incoming calls are not coming through to my phone, and are instead getting diverted to voicemail.

Not being a specialist myself, I don’t know whether this is a problem with my phone, or a problem with the network. I hope that the specialist can help answer this question. I also hope the specialist can manage to get through to my phone when he or she calls.


Dane P.
Brainside Out together with Dane Petersen
“Where you hear us before you see us!”

It wasn’t long until I received a reply. I must say that while not being all that helpful, Sprint is very responsive. Sadly, however, my dear friend Abel had been replaced by someone new:

Dear Dane,

Thank you for your reply.

I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience you are experiencing.

The zip code 97031 is covered under the PCS coverage network and there is a problem with the phone reception or coverage, this could be because of the following two possibilities:

1. Phone difficulties: Please visit a Sprint Store to get your Phone tested. To locate the nearest Sprint Store, you can click on the following hyperlink:


2. Network difficulties: If your Phone passes the diagnostic test and the coverage problem persists, you can contact us to process a trouble record for this service-related issue. Please dial *2TALK from your Phone or 1-888-211-4727 from a landline phone. Our specialists will be glad to assist you.

Thank you for contacting us.

Odalys D.
Sprint together with Nextel
“Where our customers come first!”

Refer someone to Sprint and get $25. Dial #REF or visit a store for details.

…as an aside, I find it rather tactless on Sprint’s part to include a “Refer someone to Sprint!” link in their email signature on support emails. Seriously, if I’m mailing back and forth with your support crew you can safely assume that I’m kinda pissed at you about something, and probably not in the best mood to burden others with your service.

As of yesterday it appears that the worst has finally passed, as my phone seems to be making and receiving calls once again without issue. I figured I owed Sprint an update regarding my current status:

Dearest Odalys,

I am pleased to tell you that as of today my phone seems to be working fine. I am now able to make and receive calls with the same rate of success that I had previously enjoyed with Sprint. I didn’t bring it into a Sprint Store for testing, however, as the nearest store is 60 miles away and my gut tells me that this has been a problem with the network, not with the phone.

Also, with an hour of freeway driving and six inches of snow standing between me and the nearest Sprint Store, I fear that under current weather conditions I would probably die if I were to undertake such a foolish excursion. Seriously, I hear they’ve resorted to cannibalism in Portland.

No, the Oregon landscape has consumed enough poor souls this winter. I feel it is my duty as a responsible citizen not to add to the mounting body count, and instead I chose to wait this one out. If the fact that my phone works again is any sort of evidence, it seems that inaction in this case was indeed the best action.

Thank you for your help, and have a lovely day.

Dane P.
Brainside Out together with Dane Petersen
“Where cold fury follows us wherever we go!”

Refer someone to Brainside Out and get $25!
Visit www.brainsideout.com for details.

Today I received a call from a Sprint representative who, along with being uncomfortably apologetic for the problems I have been experiencing, assured me that a network specialist would contact within the next couple days regarding these issues. I thanked him for his deep concern and made sure he understood that most of my troubles seem to have already been resolved, but I agreed that further correspondence with Sprint would certainly be enjoyable.