I can’t believe the phone conversation I just had. (Okay, maybe I can.)

This past summer I got a new phone—an LG Rumor Touch—with Sprint, the wireless company I’ve been with since 2001. It’s certainly no iPhone, but for making phone calls and sending text messages, it’s a good phone. The only problem was that I couldn’t send or receive pictures via text messaging (a.k.a. “picture mail”). The phone would just show “ERROR 7 Network timeout”. I took my phone into my local Sprint store and the techs there fooled around with it and reset it, wiping all my data, but they couldn’t fix it. They gave me an “eTicket” number and told me to call Sprint tech support.

I got busy with other things, started a new semester, and generally felt like I had better things to do than spend a couple hours on the phone wrangling with a customer service rep over a minor detail like picture mail, so I let it go. After getting Dorothy’s iPhone set up to text pictures the other day, I decided that it’s time to get my own phone fixed, so tonight I called *2 and prepared for customer service hell.

The first rep I talked to got hung up on the fact that I was calling on the phone that needed to be fixed—presumably because she then wouldn’t be able to make me jump through the standard basic troubleshooting hoops. What could she do for me tonight, I asked.

Not much, sir.

Well, “not much” is more than nothing, but in the end, despite my assurances that I had already been to the Sprint store and that they had failed to fix my phone, all she could do was refer me back to the store since I lacked another phone to call back on.

Not ready to give up, I decided to give chat support a try. At least that way I wouldn’t be on the phone while communicating with the rep. Meanwhile, I remembered that I had that eTicket number from my visit to the Sprint store, which would have notes attached to it about what the techs tried to do that day, so I typed it into the chat window. The rep, “Ben”,  had me turn my phone off and on, which triggered the network timeout error. I received lots of messages from the rep thanking for my patience and assuring me that he was looking into something or another, but in the end, after 30 minutes, I was told that I had to call tech support.

Well, at least now I had my old eTicket number. Perhaps now the phone rep would be able to see that the store had checked the hardware and would examine my account more closely for configuration problems. Unfortunately, this new phone rep was fixated on the fact that I had called earlier today and had been referred back to the store. I insisted that she look up the eTicket from August.

Are you aware that it is December?

Really? And here I thought we were having an unseasonably cold September.

She seemed to think that the eTicket from my call earlier tonight took precedence over anything that came before and that there was nothing to be gained by looking at the older eTicket. I pressed further. I explained that the staff at the store hadn’t seemed to understand the problem. The hardware checked out, and they had given me the impression that there was probably something wrong with my account.

Can you make phone calls? Can you send text messages?

Yes.

Then your account is fine.

Well, I can’t do anything with data, I countered.

Oh, hold on… … … I think I see the problem.

Finally! She explained that she was making some corrections to the settings on my account, told me to use the option to update my phone’s profile and then try sending a picture mail after hanging up, and promised to call back in a few minutes.

You may receive a survey about your experience today. Would you say that your problem was completely resolved?

Not yet. (I mean, seriously?)

I hung up, updated my profile, and was able to successfully send a picture to myself. And yes, the rep did call back—and proceeded to try to up-sell me to a more expensive service plan.

So how long did all that take? Approximately 2 hours.

What did we learn? Persistence pays off; don’t take no for an answer.

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