Chances are, regardless of whichever phone service carrier you want to discuss, you’ve either experienced or heard of a horror story about it being terrible or fucking someone over. In fact, the shittiness of any given phone company seems to vary by market. In some cities, Verizon works best. In others, it’s AT&T. There might be some place where Sprint actually works well. I don’t know. At any rate, I guess that place is where I should move, because where I live, Sprint is awful and is only treating me worse.
I’ve been on Sprint for almost 10 years now, for no better reason than that on some matters, I confess that I possess progress-stifling laziness. Or I had bigger problems to focus on rather than improving my cell phone carrier. Call it a deficiency of character, if you will. I long heard there were better options for cell service in the DC area, where I reside, and Sprint sucked, but it didn’t quite suck enough to propel me to explore potentially better alternatives.
That is, until about two months ago when I decided to upgrade by iPhone 4S to an HTC One. To be honest, I didn’t even really want to upgrade. The iPhone, even a slightly outdated one, perfectly satisfies what meager demands I have for a cell phone. To wit:
– Be able to do basic phone shit (make calls, send texts, get voicemails)
– Let me browse websites without taking forever to load
– Have a decent Twitter app
– Can run Google Maps
– Have a serviceable camera
– Have a few good games for when I’m stuck somewhere.
That’s it! That’s all I need from a cell phone, which isn’t a ton if we’re talking about current technology. And the iPhone I had did all those things. Again, the quality of the phone service wasn’t what I would describe as great, but it was passable for the most part. What would upgrading really improve? A larger touchscreen? A slightly better camera? The best case for me would be that somehow the signal speed and connection would be faster and more reliable.
But I went ahead and spent the $100 to upgrade to the HTC One. Qualify for an upgrade? Might as well use it! The HTC had generally positive reviews and perhaps I would end up appreciating the improvements that I didn’t even think I needed. At the very least, it would stave off the point where I’d get laughed at by some asshole for having an outdated phone.
And I would like to tell you that the HTC One is better. I’d like to tell you that its longer battery life or larger screen are improvements over what I had before, but I can’t get past one little problem: my phone gets no connection. Anywhere! Not in my apartment, where my old phone worked fine, not in the city, not elsewhere in the area. Nowhere.
If I order out for food, I have to call eight times, because the call will drop the first seven, sometimes when I’m on the line with the restaurant, so they’re pissed and confused when I call back. When the delivery guy arrives, I have to hope he can gain access to my building because none of his calls register on my phone. I receive texts hours after they’re sent. The only time the Internet works, despite the fact that I have a data plan, is when I’m connected to someone’s Wifi network. I get emails at a rate of like 10 at a time, but only once every few hours. Never does it update as messages come in.
Fine, fine, first world problems, I know. It’s still maddening to pay $100 for an upgrade and about $100 in monthly charges over for a phone that basically doesn’t work. As a device, the HTC One works fine. It has the ability to be good, but Sprint’s network is so shitty (or at least my connection to it is) that it doesn’t matter.
In the last six weeks, I’ve been to a Sprint store five times and called their customer service line twice, which can only been done from a phone that isn’t yours. That would be a lot easier if I were one of those fancy people who also pays for a land line. At the store, they ran a diagnostic on my phone and told me smugly that nothing is wrong with it, therefore not qualifying for a replacement. Why? I hadn’t damaged it. It just doesn’t work. They fobbed me off with dumb excuses and tips: that I should just keep updating my profile, that they’re just doing work on the cell tower near you, that everything should be okay in a few days, just wait. “Did we mention that LTE is coming to this area on July 1?”
Even though I had gone to a store to complain about the phone not working within the first two weeks of activating it, I’m now told that since I kept the phone past the initial 14-day grace period, it can’t be replaced or considered defective. And honestly, I’m not sure the phone is defective so much as Sprint’s network and connection are just that dreadful.
With every rep I talk to, either in person or on the phone, clinging to that policy while offering no assurance that anything will improve, I’m at the point where it’s worth more to me to just have a working phone and not deal with more excuses and bullshit. And that means cutting my losses, swallowing the additional $150 early termination fee I’ll get for breaking my contract, and signing up with any company that might or might not treat me just as badly. Also, I know I stand no chance at getting my money back even if I fought for it. All told, that will mean I’ll have coughed up nearly $500 on a phone that doesn’t work.
So congratulations, Sprint. Congrats on not providing enough service to satisfy me, the most stupidly loyal customer a phone company could ask for. Fuck you and your shitty network. Fuck all the reps and technicians you’ve instructed to lie to customers. Fuck you trying-too-hard-to-be-cute commercials with the talking hamster and the goth kid. And fuck me, because I feel like a goddamn sucker.