Sprint Fires Customers
By Tom Ryan
On June 29, Sprint sent letters to more than 1,000 subscribers, saying their service had been terminated because of their excessive calls to customer service.
“While we have worked to resolve your issues and questions to the best of our ability, the number of inquiries you have made to us during this time had led us to determine that we are unable to meet your current wireless needs,” the letters said.
An internal review over the past year identified customers who called an average of 40 to 50 times a month with billing and other service questions.
Sprint found that the subscribers often were calling about the same problems over and over after officials felt they had resolved the issue. Some were repeatedly asking for information from other customers’ accounts, which customer service workers aren’t allowed to divulge. The repeated calls also interfered with Sprint’s ability to serve other customers
“If the average person is calling less than once per month and these people are calling 40 or 50 times more, that takes away from customer service,” Sprint spokeswoman Roni Singleton told the Associated Press.
The axed customers didn’t owe anything and their termination fees were waived, although they have to switch to another wireless carrier by July 30 if they want to keep the same phone number.
Across internet blogs, Sprint was accosted for allegedly penalizing consumers for trying to get what they paid for, and opinion was that the frequent calls only reflected poor service by Sprint itself.
But Lewis Ward, an analyst with industry research firm IDC, told NewsFactor Network, that these calls cost Sprint at least $10 to $20 each.
“The larger story,” he added, “is that Sprint has had several quarters of net customer losses, so they’re trying to find ways to maintain their high-margin customers.”
Sean Ryan, another analyst at IDC, likewise said the action was about average revenue per user, but still called this kind of mass action a “double-edged sword.” You have to “accrue a better customer base,” but, on the other hand, “do you really want to give your customers to, say, T-Mobile?”
The New York State Consumer Protection Board also believes the carrier should reimburse terminated subscribers for their inconvenience.
“These former Sprint customers will have to purchase new phones and incur other expenses and inconveniences if they want to continue receiving wireless service,” said Mindy Bockstein, the board’s chairwoman and executive director. “Sprint Nextel should do more to improve the quality of its customer service and this is a good place to start.”
Discussion Questions: What do you think of Sprint’s move to terminate customers making too many customer service calls? How would you rate their decision from a bottom line, competitive and customer relations standpoint?
- Sprint ditches customers who complain too much – Reuters
- Sprint not sorry it dumped customers – Associated Press
- Sprint Saves Cash by Cutting Customers – Newsfactor Network