Off subject post: Open Letter to Dan Hesse of Sprint

By kenny friedman on Tuesday, June 07, 2011

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Hey Dan

Remember when you did that ad campaign that gave your email so people can shoot you a quick note about problems they are having with Sprint? It was a good campaign.

And even though it's years later, and I doubt you're the one who reads them, I thought I'd send a letter about my Sprint experience and maybe give you a bit of advice.

Let's start with something we both know. It's going to hurt but it's the truth so let's just pull the Band-Aid® off instead of dancing around it.

Sprint is hemorrhaging subscribers... You're the smallest of the nation-wide carriers. And while you had an okay Q1 it was still dissapointing.

And I think I know why.

Your phones suck.

I've been with Sprint for about 7 years. I moved from ATT when I got a new job and got a great discount on sprint.

I've been totally happy with the service. You have really great customer service–one of the big reasons I've stayed with Sprint.

Also I've loved some of your marketing. The Now Network widget site is great. It's been up for years but is still relevant, still fun to play with. You were ahead of your time with that site... Good job.

But the reason, I feel, that customers are running from you like they would Godzilla is your phones are total shit. They might look good on paper. They might have great features. But in reality, in everyday use they are shit.

When the Plam Pre came out a few years ago I was psyched that you were finally getting a nice smart phone. You see I'm a total Apple guy. I would love an iPhone, but I didn't want to switch to ATT for various reasons.

The Pre kept me at Sprint.

My wife and I both got a Pre when they came out. We were happy for about two weeks,

Shortly after having them her phone had that "Oreo Twist" thing going on where the phone twisted about a quarter of an inch and felt like it would break. She got a new one.

About three weeks in my phone started randomly shutting off. It would be sitting on my desk and would shut off... All the time. I returned it and got a new one.

The one I received had a half inch gash on it. Let me say that again... The new one I received straight from the service center where all phones are looked at for quality control had a huge gash in it UNDER the protective film.

So that was sent back immediately.

Then I had a tiny problem where my phone mic and ear hole would shut off if my head came within an inch of it. It's really tough to use a phone you can't put to your ear, if you don't believe me you should try it. So back my phone went.

I learned in the many times that I had to bring my device in that the Pre was causing a ton of problems for you. I'm sure you know. I'm sure that's why you didn't carry the second generation Pre. Why I could get easy repairs through Sprint for a year vs going to Palm. Why when I called after having the phone for about 16 months to quit Sprint and told the woman what phone I had she sighed... She had dealt with crappy Palms many times, lost customers because of them.

The reason I was fed up you ask? It's because my wife's phone started to fall apart at the seams. It was as if she was Cinderella and it was midnight. Things just started falling off the phone. This wasn't after a drop or anything... It was, as I'm sure you're painfully aware, because of a horrible built device.

My phone at the same time was getting to be unusable. I couldn't change the volume controls and had to use speaker or a headset (again) but at least it was in one piece.

That experience was frustrating. I personally had seven (maybe eight, I lost count) Pres in total, and I am not hard on my phones at all. I use them, I don't drop them. I don't toss them in a bag. I don't sit on them. I don't use them as bath toys. I take good care of them.

But it was more frustrating because this was the phone that Sprint held up as the best at the time. The Holy Grail of cell phones. The iPhone killer. And I'm sad the hardware was shit. The interface was great to use. So fun. So easy. So smart.

As I said I called to quit Sprint but got a good deal on a new phone because the past problems of folks with Pres.

The offer was good on any phone except the brand spanking new 4g phones (epic and evo). And I was cool with not having the best. I was burned by the best. I didn't want to shell out a lot of cash and have a Pre experience and be saddled with an extra $10 a month if the phone wasn't great.

See what happened to my thinking there? I just assume that any phone I get from Sprint will be horrible. That's not good. I shouldn't think that about a phone. I should know that if I buy the best available it will be good. It will perform. It will last at least two years. But Sprint has taught me differently.

And perhaps I'm stupid with sticking with you. There's a saying by a brilliant man that comes to mind "fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again."

I was fooled again.

We went for the one that we were told was the third best. A little brother to the Epic. Another flagship phone, because of the Spring ID.

We got the Samsung Transform. And like the Pre it wasn't a good start... But I was assured that my wife and got outlier phones... That the build was great and feedback was positive. I forget what my wife's problem was right off the bat. My phone had a messed up graphics card or connection.

We got new ones. Then in month five my phone bricked. It bricked so hard that when being walked through the diagnostic screens with the Samsung guy we couldn't breathe life into is. I had to send it back to Samsung. It's bricked since but I have been able to reset it.

Now we're about 8-9 months into having these phone. We got the Froyo update. It was like you added molasses to the phone. I know people were begging for it but you had to have tried a Transform with Froyo and saw that performance went done. People would rather have honesty and an older operating system then have to wait for 3 minutes for their email to open.

And now... My phone, which is slow as all heck...

Let's try something here. Let's pretend I snapped the camera and I'll come back later and tell you when the picture would actually be taken. 

The phone is so slow that I get the screen lock while trying to open programs like email or the browser... My phone just randomly shuts off and on (reboots) at least once a day. It's the Pre all over.

And that, my friend, is why I think customers are leaving you like Sheryl Crow is Leaving Las Vegas.

Your line up is stacked with underpowered devices. You don't need an iPhone. You just need good phones. Like I said I'm an Apple guy but I dig the Android system. I also dig Sprint. I'd totally get another android device... But how can I trust anything you peddle?

I feel that it's to the point that the cash we'd have to throw down in an ETF is far worth being saddled to a company that I can't rely on the devices of. The ETF is worth not having a phone that's slower than Droopy Dog on a super hot day.

By the way this is about when that aforementioned photo would actually be taken. Maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration in time but the lag is so terrible that my son can crawl from the bottom of the stairs to almost the top before a pic is actually taken.

So please take this advice. Ask your team that works with device manufacturers to work harder. To be tougher. To think of long term profit (happy customers returning) over short term profit (a high margin phone that makes a customer run to Verizon or ATT). Stop selling horrible devices. And when you do... Please take care of the loyal customers you sold them to.

Because if you can't get your device shit together your great customer service, good coverage and fantastic prices really don't matter.

Be good...
Kenny



2 comments:

  1. I love(d) Sprint as well. I was a loyal customer from my first cell phone in 2001 until this year, when I finally got so sick of my crappy phone(s) that had crappy batteries and the inability to stay on when asked...and I left for AT&T and the iPhone. I was trying SO HARD to hold out until Sprint maybe got the iPhone, but I couldn't wait anymore. So now, I have a phone I love and service I only half-love. But it's a compromise I'm willing to take.

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  2. The reason we went to Verizon:

    I have TMobile. My daughter wanted the new IPhone 4S and our contract was expired.

    My company has a business account at Sprint, and they offer employees a discount if they open a personal account with Sprint.

    My daughter goes to a Sprint store to open the account. The sales guy had NO idea how to get the account going, and was going to bill the business....

    We tell him over and over again that this will be a separate account.... After over an hour there, my daughter calls me and is fed up. Says that the sales guy finally admits that the Manager is the ONLY one who knows how to set up this kind of account.....

    We gave up and went to Verizon....

    After talking to several friends about this, we found that they too have had experiences similar to this at a Sprint store..... Your employees just DON'T CARE, or aren't trained sufficiently....

    Another reason that Sprint is losing Customers.

    Thanks for the forum to vent. I couldn't find the CEO's email addy online.

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