Here's the background information. Sorry it's a really long story. :/
My husband and I bought the Samsung Instinct for my birthday on August 27th. We got it at a kiosk in the mall, played around with the text messaging and used the GPS to give us directions to our house and everything seemed peachy. Once I got home and played with it some more I realized that my data services aren't working properly - no web, no streaming tv or radio, no picture mail, nada. So, I call customer service and she tells me it can take up to 24 hours to fully activate. Ok. No problems. I can wait.
Next day, it’s worse. I’m not receiving incoming calls or voice mails. I start poking around the sprint website seeing if there's anything posted about this and wind up in the customer service chat. We reset my phone, reprogram it, power cycle it - after about half an hour or so it's still not working, so she advises me to take it to a store. I look up the nearest store online and there's a newer one that's just opened up close to where my husband works. We stop in after I pick him up from work and the rep there (I'll call him 'J") fiddles with it a bit, does the same stuff that I did earlier (he was really nice though - I don't consider this to be sucky service at all). He gets it to the point where I’m able to get incoming calls and voice messages, but still no web stuff. J tells me that the data services should be working in a couple of hours and if I’m still having problems to bring it back in. It still doesn't work a few hours later, so I figure I'll go back when they open up on Friday morning.
My parents came to visit me for my birthday and Mom and I were going to go out shopping Friday morning anyway, so we just swung by the same Sprint store again. J recognized me from yesterday and immediately called it in to the "better tech support". After an hour I still didn't have a properly working phone. He checks his phone to make sure that he has all of his data services, which he does. J’s stumped so he suggests I get an exchange at the kiosk where I bought it. He also gave me his card and said that if I had any problems to give him a call.
Here’s where the bad service story begins.
So, we shop around for a little bit and make our way to the mall. We stop in at the kiosk around noon and say we would like to exchange the phone. I'll call the woman working there "D". D asks what's wrong with the phone and I explain that I'm not getting my data services. She takes a look at the phone and goes through all the same things I've been doing the past few days - resetting, reprogramming, etc. I tell her that we've already done that and this is where it starts to go downhill. She starts getting an attitude and says that "everyone is having this problem" and that I just need to give it an hour and it should work. I explain again that we just left another sprint store and he said the exact same thing and that I'd really just like to return it. Obviously seeing that my hands are empty, she says "I won't exchange it if you don't have the box it came in. Do you have it?" I suppose it's more the manner in which she said it - she just spit the words at me. But, ok, I can understand that point. So Mom and I leave to head back to my house to pick up my box, accessories, receipt, etc. and to see if my Dad wanted to go to the mall with us (which he did).
While we were driving to my house we talked about how rude D seemed and that we should probably just get my money back and go to J's store and buy the phone there. So, I stop by husband's work to pick up his credit card (just in case we need it), and drive out to the mall again.
We got there a smidge after 1 and walk back to the kiosk. We wait as D finishes up with a couple in front of us (this is important). When they're finished, I set the box on the counter and let her know that we would like a refund. She stares at us for a second and then just says "no, I can't do that." I'm kind of surprised, so I hold out my receipt to point out where it says I have 30 days. Without giving me a chance to speak she says "Look, I'll get the internet to work, ok?" At this point I'm so frustrated with the process I just say "No, I would really rather get the refund so I can go buy this phone elsewhere." She then says "You know you'll lose all your rebates if you do that, right?" I tell her that it doesn't matter; I'll figure something out with the other store.
This is where she starts explaining that her machine is down and she can't give refunds. I'm confused, as not more than 15 minutes ago she just sold a phone. So, I ask her how she's able to accept payments but can't do refunds. She says that they have to do it manually. So, I tell her to manually give me a refund. She says "No, that's not the way it works. You'll have to come back some other time."
Now, I've never worked retail that had to deal with credit card machines, so I can accept that I don't know what the mechanics are here. All I know is that my receipt says that I'm entitled to a refund within 30 days if I'm not satisfied, and she is refusing to give me (1) a refund, (2) a sufficient answer as to why she can't give me a refund , or (3) a timeline as to when she will be able to give me a refund.
During this conversation, my mom asks for the J’s business card and starts to call him. While my Mom is talking, D starts asking me who she’s talking to. I tell her that it’s the rep for the other store. She grins and says “He’s not going to be able to do anything”. I tell her that he’ll be able to talk to your manager, to which she grins again and says “I am the manager”. Mom interjects and says that J wants to speak with D, so we hand over the phone, and she immediately starts with the uber-nice talk, trying to explain the situation and how if we would just let her look at the phone then we could get the situation straighten out. They talk for a few minutes. When D is finished talking, she hands my mom's phone back to her and J says to tell her that you'll need to speak with D's district manager. So, Mom asks for the district managers' number. D says she can't give that number out, so Mom says “ok, then you can call him”. The DM talks to D for a bit, she explains that the system is down, it can't be fixed until Tuesday (this is the first time we’ve heard it would be Tuesday), she can't give us a refund and that we're not letting her look at the phone to fix it. (The phone has been lying next to the box the entire time and she has never even asked if she could look at it!) So, D’s phone gets passed back to me, he tries to explain the situation and talks me into doing an exchange instead. I basically said "Fine, but if this one doesn't work either then I want a refund" to which he said ok.
So...we package up the old phone, break out the new one and guess what... still no web, email, etc. My mother whispers to me "gee look, that one doesn't work either" in a really sarcastic tone. D looks up and says in an incredibly snotty tone "All that proves is that there's nothing wrong with the phone" to which my mom quips (rudely) "no, all that proves is that the instinct is a piece of junk".
It's been at least an hour and a half standing at the kiosk already, but D is insisting that she can get the phone to work, so she starts calling customer service. We wait another hour at least (I didn't have a watch, so I completely lost track of time. My poor Dad kept coming back to us, asking how we were doing and then wondering off to some other shop. He finally bought a book and sat down on a bench). After it became clear that there was no way D was going to get the phone to work properly, she started in with the “give it x hours” and “I’ll keep in touch with the engineers” and “I can’t give you a refund”. Mom starts calling up customer service again and starts asking for corporate numbers and supervisors and what have you (*sigh* My mother is so stubborn). I ask D how long before I can get a refund and she finally explains that it won’t be until Tuesday at the earliest.
So my options are (1) get a slip of paper that says that the refund will go through on Tuesday and surrender my phone, or (2) keep my phone and go through this again on Tuesday. I ask if I can just go back to my original plan with my original phone, but no, I would need to have my old phone there with me. There’s no way I’m driving back to the mall a third time, I use the phone as a primary means of communication and I refuse to do without for an entire long weekend break, plus I’m tired of standing there and getting nowhere and I am willing to just accept option number 2 and go home. I hate that I’m going to have to go through this entire process again on Tuesday though.
Cut back to my mother, who is now crying to some woman on the phone about how she spent all day at the mall kiosk instead of having a nice day with her daughter and how ridiculous the entire process has been. At some point, Mom hands the phone to me and as we’re walking through the mall back to our car I explain the issues. The woman explains that they are having a nationwide data problem and it should be fixed. I said that it would be nice if they let their employees know about this so they can respond appropriately to their customers’ complaints to which she lets me know that they’ve known about this for a week. She then asks what could she credit to my account to help with the situation. Honestly, I’m flabbergasted by this and a little angry. I ask her if she could put a price tag on spending the afternoon with her family, because that’s essentially what I’ve missed out on. She says that of course she couldn’t put a price tag on that, but could credit my account $15.
This still makes my blood boil a bit - I didn’t care about getting any credits to my account. An apology for the inconvenience, a promise that they will try to make sure their stores know about upgrades/outages/whatever – these are the things that I would have liked. $15 – not so much. I inform her that I find that to be insulting, there’s obviously nothing that she is able to do for me to “smooth this over” and I can only hope that she will seriously consider improving her customer service skills. I look at the clock in the car as we leave – it’s a smidge after 5. We were there, at the kiosk, for four hours. No wonder I’m exhausted.
As of today, my web services are still not working, but I’m trying not to think about it so I can conserve my energy in case there’s another debacle on Tuesday.
EDIT: Just to add a bit more info - my entire family uses Sprint so I can talk to them for free. I'm stuck with Sprint because my parents live out in the sticks and no one else covers their area.
The issue *might* be only in the midwest. I've looked at some Sprint / Instinct forums and it looks like someone from Detroit and someone from Kentucky are having the same issues. I'm from Indiana, so that makes sense.
Thank you to everyone who wished me a happy birthday. :)