Sunday, July 22, 2007
Virginia – Joshua Brady, a former Sprint Nextel customer, has had his cellular phone account shut off, but not because he wasn’t paying the phone bill, or even because he was late on payments, but because a customer service representative who assisted him, began to call him outside of her job, and make death threats to him in September of 2006. She was never fired for her actions, Brady says.
Brady has agreed to be interviewed by Wikinews to tell his story. All information and claims have been logged with Brady’s attorney and federal authorities.
The representative from Sprint Nextel, who for safety reasons is only being identified as Jessica, was working at the company’s call center in Ontario, Canada where Brady’s call to customer service was directed. According to Brady, Jessica then began to call him outside of her job duties at the call center after their first contact.
Brady called the center around 6:00 p.m. (eastern time) on a Saturday and attempted to receive help on a billing question and to find a way to stop prank calls. Brady requested a “soc code”, a code placed into the phone, that would allow for the number that was pranking him to be blocked. Unfortunately, Jessica did not know what that was, but tried unsuccessfully to find it. According to Brady, the only thing she could find was “the ANI feature call centers have.”
Brady then described to Jessica the billing issue he was having. He was being charged “for text messages I was not making”, even though he had unlimited text messaging with his billing plan. Meanwhile, Jessica called for a supervisor to help locate the code. As this customer service request over the phone was taking quite a bit of time, the two of them then started to discuss what two people would normally discuss if just chatting; sports, the weather, movies and music and if Virginia was a nice place to go on vacation. The supervisor then came by Jessica’s station with no luck on finding a code.
Later that night, around 10:30 p.m., Brady received a call. He answered it and much to his surprise, it was Jessica. He answered the phone with the usual “hello” and the voice on the other end answered with “hello Josh.” Brady was “surprised” that she had not said “hello Mr. Brady.”
“I then asked who it was, and she said Jessica. She told me about her day, and hoped that I did not mind her calling.” Then according to Brady, she started to describe how much she hated working in a call center, and how the job “pays the bills”, and asked if she could “come visit me sometime”. Brady said that he “immediately started to record” the call. Brady also stated that Jessica was not aware she was being recorded, and that further conversations were recorded without her knowing.
The call lasted about 15 minutes, but Brady said she “spoke so fast and moved along through things” that he “didn’t have a chance to talk if I wanted to. It [the call] ended with me interrupting her and telling her I had to go to dinner with a friend.”
Brady immediately called customer care back and reported Jessica’s actions to a supervisor (Jason), and the Floor Manager (Also named Jessica) at the Coos Bay call center, which is where his call happened to be directed. The advice he received was to “play along” and continue to report her actions until they could locate someone “better equipped” to handle the situation.
Jessica then began to call “about every other day or so” which turned out to be almost 30 calls, according to Brady who reported each call she made to Sprint Nextel.
Sprint Nextel then told Jessica to cease and desist all contact with Brady, but that didn’t stop Jessica from contacting him. She somehow found out the screen-name of his AOL Instant Messenger account, and left messages threatening to kill him. Brady logged the messages and faxed them to Sprint, who about a week later sent Brady a letter, saying that his accounts have been terminated.
“The purpose of this letter is to inform our that our office has received a complaint regarding your recent questionable interactions with our customer care group. Recent interactions with our company have prompted us to formally contact you. Sprint Nextel terms and conditions state that “termination of services. consistent with this agreement…”, said the letter from Sprint Nextel.
Brady states that Jessica is still employed with Sprint Nextel, despite the fact that all instant messages left by Jessica were forwarded to Sprint Nextel.
As recently as July 10, 2007, as many as 1,000 accounts were terminated by Sprint Nextel because customers were complaining too much and asking too many questions about billing.
“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,” said one letter to a sprint customer as recent as June 29, 2007. The letter states that the service will be terminated just one day after the letter was written despite saying they “understand switching to a new carrier causes an inconvenience.”
Two weeks ago, Sprint addressed the media about the mass-cancellations. “These accounts have been researched very carefully,” Sprint spokeswoman Roni Singleton said. “We feel strongly that the decisions we made, we stand by them. These decisions weren’t made lightly.”
“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,” Singleton said. “Our priority is to improve the customer experience.”
Wikinews sent e-mails to Sprint Nextel on July 20 regarding the Brady incident; to date no response has been received.
Update: On July 23, 2007, Wikinews received an email response from a Sprint representative, going to some length to explain the termination of the customers who were calling up to hundreds of times a month. No information was given on the Brady case covered in this article; “customer privacy considerations” were cited as the reason and “no comment” was Sprint’s reply.