Sunday, April 20, 2014

Evil Phone Companies

One might think that living on an island 160 miles from Miami could at times be inconvenient.  And one might be correct if thinking that.

These things are many and varied. We should say something about that. Maybe we will.

But here's an inconvenience that exists independently of location.  It has to do with Sprint, the mobile  service provider.

We have stores here for three of the four of the major nationwide service providers: AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint.  There's also a store for Metro PCS, now a subsidiary of T-Mobile, the fourth nationwide major company.

I wrote the following note on January 25th:
I have been without a phone for over two weeks now, due to the misleading information provided to me by SprintCares representatives and the company's intransigence in dealing with people who are out of contract and who want to take their phones to a different service provider. 
Here's the background:
I called Sprint at around the time my two-year contract expired and asked to know how I would go about unlocking the two iPhone 4s models we had on contract.  After being given a run-around by several Sprint representatives, being told different things each time I called -- that the phones could be unlocked, that they could not, that they could in certain cases; and after reading that Sprint had signed on to a CTIA agreement to allow unlocking once contracts were fulfilled; and after enlisting the support of the carrier I chose to migrate to (T-Mobile if you must know), I proceeded to ask Sprint for the unlock codes that would allow me to have the phones unlocked, and -- wonder of wonders -- they sent me two such codes, known as MSL Unlock codes in an email that read, in its entirety:  
"Can you please email us at with your phone number so we can provide you with the MSL to unlock. *AJV"
From @SprintCare on Twitter 1/9/14 
The two unlock codes, one for each phone number followed. 
But Sprint refused to tell me how to use the unlock codes, so I once again turned to T-Mobile to see if they would help.  They were eager to do so, but told me that until Sprint updated a database at Apple known as the Activation Data Base.  They even went so far as to call Apple on my behalf and confirmed that the phone was not unlocked in the Activation DB.  ONLY SPRINT CAN UPDATE THE ACTIVATION DATA BASE, AND THEY REFUSE TO DO IT!  It is allowed and done for someone who wants to use another phone service internationally, but absolutely not for domestic use with any other carrier. 
After 15 years as a mostly satisfied Sprint user, and after asking for a reduction in my monthly cost to something close to what T-Mobile offered me to switch (and who do not lock the phone to their own network), I made the move.  I relied on the fact that I had the MSL codes to begin the process of transitioning, and now I have a phone that doesn't work with Sprint and can't be activated at T-Mobile until the unlock is completed. 
I filed a complaint with the FCC, similar to what other customers have advised doing, but that doesn't give me a useable phone. 
Once I am free from the evil practices of an evil company I will NEVER again do business with Sprint and I'll advise everyone I know to do the same.  
It's a hell of a way to run a telephone company.  It's a hell of a way to run any kind of company.

In the end I was unable to make the switch and had to crawl back to Sprint to get reinstated on their service.  At some point I'll be free of Sprint and I've vowed to never consider them as a supplier.  That will probably come when it's finally time to upgrade phones.  For now though we'll continue to use the iPhone 4s' that we both have.

UPDATE 5/2/14
I am distressed to read recently that Sprint may now buy T-Mobile.  If that happens its likely to lessen competition and will probably destroy both Sprint and T-Mobile.

Ma Bell anyone?

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