Cell Phone Hell

Helpful, hint of the day… don’t break your cell phone in the middle of your contract period if you don’t have insurance.  Last week, I left my Palm Centro on the kitchen counter, where I’ve been parking my phone pretty much forever.  A short while later, I heard a crash, and the characteristic scurrying sound of a cat running for cover.

The phone looked like it made it through the ordeal ok, but later I noticed a quirk when I plugged it in to charger later that evening.  Hmm, it didn’t make the familiar ding dong sound when I jacked in the power connector.  Strange, its not a quiet mode and the I didn’t turn down the ringer.

The phone and internet stuff seems to work ok.  So, I messed around some more and went to the media player on the phone and tried to play some tunes.  Uh oh, it plays fine, but no sound.  Oh fudge, the ringer speaker (which is also used for the music player and speaker), seems to be busted.

Guess its time to visit a Sprint Repair Center.  So, I went on over to their website and found where they are in the Syracuse area.  Of course, none on this side of town.  Cicero or Clay.  Well, the non-mall store in Cicero will probably be less busy.  So, I went there.  Started talking to the rep and barely got my store out before they said, this isn’t a repair center.  No reply to my comment to their website says it was.  They said I need to go to the Clay store.  Off I went.

Happy to see that it wasn’t too busy in the mall store, I wandered in.  One rep working with some customers and another chatting away on the phone.  Soon enough, the one on the phone asked if I needed some help (without finishing up the already in progress phone conversation.)  I gave her my sad story.  First question, of course, was do you have insurance on the phone.  Nope.  Got the standard, blah blah blah, if your phone is important to you should have gotten insurance.  I said, I’ve been a Sprint customer for 11 years, and this the first time I’ve ever had a broken phone.

The rep then went on to say that the tech guy for the story was out at the moment doing some training.  But, she said that he’s expected back in an hour.  I said that I had another phone that I’d like to swap in for the broken phone in the meanwhile, so the rep cut my line to that phone without much hassle.

I asked if I could just leave my phone and the tech could get to whenever.  She said that they can’t do anything like that because they can’t be held responsible for the phone when its in their hands.  What the?  So, ask the semi-obvious follow up question, if the tech guy can’t fix the phone in real time, won’t he need to hold on to it?  She said if he can’t fix it real time, I’m probably out of luck.  Hmm, don’t like where this is going.

I said, I’d wait out the hour and come back.  But, in the meanwhile, I had some account questions.  If I end up needing to get a new phone, can I use the $150 re-up credit from another line in my family plan.  No, of course not; to qualify for any mail-in rebate on a new phone, you have to have it activated on the line being re-upped (for at least 30 days.)  Ok, fair enough, I guess.  Well, I’m coming up on the 1 year contract anniversary on the line for the busted phone, so I have at least $75 in re-up credit.  So, that means, I can get a phone for new guy price (the low price they list for the phone that has all the fine print after it) +$75, right?  Well, it turns out the new guy price usually includes more incentives that the $150 2 year re-up credit.

So, a new Palm Centro (which has some enhancements on my older model) has a new guy price of $79.  But, if I wanna buy one with my $75 of re-up credit, it’ll cost me $224 ($399 – $75 re-up credit, -$100 mail in rebate.) Well, freaking crap, why is this so expensive and complicated?  Guess that I’ll be doing everything possible to fix my current phone.

So, I waited out the hour (which was pretty challenging actually, since Great Northern Mall is looking pretty beat these days.)  I talked with the same rep again.  She said she just talked with the tech and he said that he’s running late.  Didn’t seem that coming.  I said, can you tell me when they’ll be in again?  I didn’t have any patience left at that point.

Its been a busy week, so I haven’t had a chance to make it back yet.  Gonna try to make another trip sometime this weekend.  Keep you posted.

Question to the blogosphere:  are all cell phone companies this annoying?  I speculate that changing carriers doesn’t really help all that much and they’re all approximately the same level of annoyance in the big picture.  What’s your experience?  Feel free to share your horror stories in comments.

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