iPhone freeze problem leads to big rate increase

After Diane McMillian’s iPhone 4 freezes, a Sprint employee convinces her to upgrade to a new phone and a more expensive plan. But it’s not what she expects. Can this upgrade be undone?

Question: In September I visited a Sprint store to get my iPhone 4 checked. I was having a problem with my Gmail account freezing up. A representative couldn’t fix the problem and recommended an upgrade.

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Because I am currently unemployed, I was not interested in purchasing a new phone. But the representative informed me that I was eligible for a “free” iPhone 6 and that I only had to pay the tax of approximately $12. My plan would remain unchanged. He also promised my son a free iPhone on the same plan, even though he didn’t have an iPhone to upgrade.

At the time, I was paying $100 for my phone service; my son was paying $60. So you can imagine my utter shock when I received my first bill. I was being charged $424 a month. The representative suggested that I return to the store and talk to the manager.

We did. Sprint refused to take back the phones and instead, a representative offered a one-time $200 credit. But that would still leave us with a $300 monthly bill. Her words were “buyer beware,” that we had signed the receipt and it was our responsibility to read everything on the receipt before signing.

That doesn’t work for me. If the phones need to be returned we will do so but want our old phones back so that we can go with another carrier. I recognize that Sprint is in business to make money but not by deceitful practices. Can you help us? — Diane McMillian, Atlanta

Answer: Wow, this is such a classic, multi-layered case, I don’t even know where to begin.

Let’s start with your iPhone freeze. You’re not the first person to suggest that Apple intentionally slows down programs on older iPhones to encourage people to upgrade to a new phone. It’s not too difficult to imagine a group of Apple marketing execs sitting around a table and asking: How do we encourage people to upgrade their old iPhones? But until I see that transcript, those rumors remain … well, just rumors.

The rep who convinced you to upgrade your phones? That’s what he’s trained to do, although, by your account, this one missed a few steps — like telling you and your son that your wireless bill would jump from $160 a month to $424. A breakdown of your bill shows what’s happening. You signed up for a joint plan that allows you, your son and two other accounts (including one of your iPads) to get connected via Sprint. A look at the dizzying fine print of Sprint’s shared plans shows that for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, your rate is $50 per month, per line. In other words, they showed you the price when you signed, albeit in mouseprint.

The representative was both right and wrong. Right, in the sense that you signed a document that said you agreed to pay $424 a month. Right, too, in the sense that it’s your responsibility to “beware” when you sign up for something. But wrong, in the sense that this is not good customer service. The salesperson said something to you that you misinterpreted. Sprint should have fixed that quickly by either adjusting your charges or returning your old phones.

As a last-ditch effort, you might have sent a brief, polite email to one of the Sprint executive contacts.

I contacted Sprint on your behalf. A representative got in touch with you, refunded the remaining overcharges, and reinstated your previous plan. As a bonus, you didn’t have to return your new phones.

Should Sprint have undone Diane McMillian's upgrade?

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125 thoughts on “iPhone freeze problem leads to big rate increase

  1. Chris, I don’t understand. What do you mean they didn’t have to return their “old” phones? Didn’t they already turn in their old phones. Didn’t the letter writer say she wanted her “old phones” back?

    1. I just went to Sprint’s website. I chose a no-credit check no money down plan for an iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus (Smallest memory versions) and added WiFi tethering. 6GB of Data, Unlimited Talk and Text. Plan is no money down and you pay a monthly fee to cover the cost of the phones. Total came to $342 a month. Depending on what other options they added, or if they got bigger phones, it could have cost more per month. The basic service was only $100/mo. The WiFi Tethering was $50 as well. The rest was the long term payments for the phones with no money down and taxes and fees. The fine print said the rate pays off the phones in 1 year. So basically it will cost $1,900 for $1,400 worth of phones if someone chooses this option.

    2. I 1000000% believe this. Similar thing happened to me…and I asked for a monthly charge breakdown five times before I left the store with my new phone. In four years, our bill went from $170 to $400…the people at the stores either intentionally lie or can’t figure out real charges. By the time you figure out what the charges will really be, it’s too late. And I call bs on them telling her in fine print…the new way of signing the contract is one a credit card screen. You don’t get a breakdown of charges at all. And lest anyone think I don’t read contracts before I sign them…well….I’m an attorney. I read them. And I can tell you sprint lies by omission about everything. Even if you’ve got a valid dispute, getting them to agree with you takes forever. I paid $1600 to get away from sprint. Over the course of a year, tmobile will still save me nearly $1000.

  2. I have a few issues/questions about this case:
    1) Upgrade your entire phone just because gmail isn’t working properly? Sounds like she got taken for a ride by the Sprint rep or she let herself get taken for a ride because she was tired of using a phone that is 3 generations old.

    2) What kind of ridiculous plan does Diane have that costs $424 per month?!?! Even with 4 lines (2 iphones, an ipad, and something else) there is no way a plan should cost that much unless Diane has a ridiculous amount of data and other add ons.

    3) Considering Diane previously had an iphone 4, it is likely that she was no longer on an annual contract and was instead paying month to month. Perhaps instead of instinctively going to the Sprint store, Diane should have done some research about other cell phone providers, including some that are very inexpensive and dont require an annual contract. For someone unemployed, these plans are perfect.

    4) This is going to come off judgy, but if Diane is unemployed, perhaps she shouldn’t even be spending $160 a month on cell phone service in the first place not to mention the service she had for her ipad and additional line. If you don’t have money coming in, you need to learn to cut back. Diane could have easily found cheaper service or cut back.

    In the end this really comes down to Diane’s fiscal irresponsibility more than anything else. Don’t blame Sprint for hiding information in the fine print. Blame Diane for making bad decisions like upgrading when its not necessary, not researching cheaper service providers, and signing up for services that are beyond her needs in a time when she is unemployed.

    Then again maybe Diane is smarter than all of us. She figured out a way to complain about her own mistakes and get sprint to give her two phones for free.

    1. I agreed with most everything you said except the part about reading the fine print. When the salesman says very clearly to you that your plan will remain the same, all the while changing your plan, that is deceptive at best, and possibly even criminal. (sort of like when companies would change your old land line long distance carrier without your approval)
      This also happened with my girlfriend at Verizon. She upgraded to an iPhone when VZW started selling them. Prior, she was with an unlimited data plan. She was promised the same plan at the same cost, and she just had to pay for the new phone. Imagine her surprise when the bill came and she was capped at 2gb per month. the store wasn’t a VZW corporate store, so when she went back they didn’t even want to deal with her.

      1. And realize the fine print is actually a small screen you’re to read and electronically sign. No paperwork anywhere. My daughter just upgraded her broken phone, read and signed the screen. I asked the Sprint rep again and again about fees and monthly changes to her account. Luckily it went just as promised, but I was nervous. Guess I’ll video the rep making the promises next time….just in case. Dang – does it have to be so complicated?

    2. “Diane should have done some research”? Bite your tongue, Seth. If people did their homework BEFORE making a purchase/commitment rather than afterwards, Chris would be out of business.

    3. Wow. Just wow. She has a problem with her cell phone service. She goes to the store to see about it. The service rep lies to her…and you decide that it’s all her fault and find a way to make the whole story about whether unemployed people are living frugally enough. I’m so glad that Chris is here to protect people like her from people like…well, you!

      1. Do you believe in personal responsibility? This entire issue could have been avoided has Diane been more responsible. I’m pretty liberal as they come when it comes to social welfare programs, but people should still take some responsibility for their actions.
        Sprint is basically eating the cost of Diane’s actions. Sure its just a drop in the bucket, but when you have hundred or thousands of people doing this sort of thing the costs add up. Eventually the rest of us have to pay for these types of things.

        1. This site’s primary mission is to help consumers. As part of that mission, we try to encourage personal responsibility, like reading the fine print and making informed purchasing decisions. But we’ll help anyone, even when they weren’t fully aware of the rules or showed poor judgment. We try to do it without judging.

          McMillan had her reasons for making the purchase. I did my best to help.

          1. Its all well and good to provide help, but I certainly hope that McMillian realizes that she is not completely free of any fault here. I certainly hope she is reading these comments and realizes that the result you got for her is pretty much the best case scenario and she got more than she deserved. Otherwise she will have learned nothing from this experience and will just continue to make poor decisions.

        2. Lets see, she went to the store to get her phone fixed, the clerk at the store tells her she can have a new phone for very little and no change in her plan. Reading the contract may or may not have helped much, and how was she to research other plans while at the store? Her only “crime”, as it were, was to believe the salesman. Probably after assuring her of the details.

          So how was she “irresponsible”? I love how now it is “irresponsible” to take people at their word.

          1. Most Salesmen are paid based on what they sell or at least need to make sales in order to keep their job. Trusting a salesman completely is naïve! You’d think by the time you’re an adult you’d have figured that out. Its practically a necessary life skill these days.

          2. But outright lied to. They may need to make a sale, but to justify sales by lying is wrong. When I go to a store, I expect to be told the truth. Oh sure, they may brag about certain features, etc that may or may not be that great, that I can at least understand a bit. However, if I’m told the price is $X and it turns out to be $3x, well there’s no justification for that I haven’t had lies like told to me as far as I can recall, but maybe that is more of a factor as to where I live. Don’t know. But to be lied to in such a large scale is pretty bad.

            Sprint must have thought something was up, or they wouldn’t have capitulated to such a degree.

          3. They outright lie at sprint stores. And since you don’t get to acknowledge your new payment (at most you see the base amount…not including phone and add ons) by the time you get the bill, it’s too late to change back. I had sprint for years and you sign on a credit card screen that gives no information at all.

          4. I’m not going to say she was irresponsible. I think that is too harsh. But the phrase “trust but verify” is an important one. They promised the plan was staying the same and shortly afterwards there was a whole bunch of fine print to approve. Somewhere in there you’d expect to see some familiar numbers concerning the rates.

            And, going off the post up above from emanon256 it sounds like she must have been charged in full for the phone, which they’d promised would be free. Even if all the other stuff was indecipherable you’d think she would have been able to sort out that there were payment fees for the phone in the agreement that shouldn’t have been there.

          5. I agree, and didn’t CE publish an article just last week saying we should always get promises in writing?

            When I tried to buy the phones on the web, it never said “Free”, it said “no money down” and it clearly separated the phone payments from the service payments. So I imagine the OP’s service payments remained the same, there was just a new fee to pay for the phones over 12 months or so. In my situation, they were charging the equivalent of 35% in simple interest for the “No Money Down” option.

        3. How can that be LW’s responsibility? It was Sprint’s decision, but nor hers, to give away the phones when the LW was only asking to undo the upgrade, which is, by the way, well within the Sprint’s guarantee policy. (Yes. Sprint says it will undo an upgrade if a customer is not happy with it). If what you are afraid of happens, it’s Sprint’s responsibility, not hers.

        4. Do you use sprint? If not, you don’t understand. Sprint lies, and lies, and lies. I have a very long story that proves it (hey…they charged me a late fee for not paying the balance on my phone when I switched to tmobile TWO WEEKS before my final bill came out…they accelerated the phone balance and sent a collection letter without ever sending me a regular bill…and they acknowledged the balance wasn’t due until mid October…but they still sent a collection notice in mid-September…and so I got a late charge around 10/4 for a bill due on 10/15 and paid on 10/15…and they didn’t want to remove it…it took two two hour phone calls to get that removed…and that’s not even the part where they lied).

          If you do use sprint…well…I guess you’ve gotten lucky so far.

      2. So just because she says a rep lied to her makes it true? I don’t side with either party in cases like this unless someone has something in writing, or a recording. What makes me sway one way or the other is personal responsibility. She signed a new contract and it discloses the terms, if she didn’t read it it’s her own fault. If Sprint just told people something and didn’t present anything for the customer to read or sign, I’d be supporting the customer in this case.

        There are cheaper options available for her out there but what she does with her money is her own business as far as I’m concerned.

        1. They lied. They’ve lied to me, too. I got a new phone in March and switched to the framily plan bc it looked like it would be cheaper. I went through the monthly cost with the guy five times. My parents ended up losing the $30 in credits per month they got on their phones. I was never informed that would happen. By adding an iPhone 5c and changing plans, our bill went from $275 to $385. And the base frramily plan for four lines was $200. My iPhone 5c cost $22 per month. You do the math. The bill should never have gone up that much. By the time we knew the real monthly cost, it was too late to switch back to the other plan.they discontinued it. So yes. Sprint lies. A lot.

    4. Don’t blame Sprint for hiding information in the fine print.

      Why not? Have you even checked the fine print in question (at least the fine print that Chris linked to)? See the attached image below (you can see it clearly, can’t you…?)

      Light gray print on white background in 8 point font, single spacing, no paragraph breaks or indentation. I couldn’t read it online without highlighting the text to change the color.

      And it’s extremely equivocal and full of wishy-washy language such as “Pricing may vary for existing customers.” So how do you even know what does apply to you and what doesn’t? If she asked about each equivocal provision, do you really want to bet that the salesperson would have answered truthfully?

      [Edit: it looks like the image attached multiple times… not sure how to fix that]

      1. I had a suspicion that, even after going through the fine prints, an intelligent person cannot figure out what the next month bill would look like. Your uploaded image reinforced my suspicion.
        The Sprint sales rep failed to communicate with the customer in a clear fashion about the most important aspect of a cell phone contract: monthly payments.

      2. I had a suspicion that, even after going through the fine prints, an intelligent person cannot figure out what the next month bill would look like. Your uploaded image reinforced my suspicion.
        The Sprint sales rep failed to communicate with the customer in a clear fashion about the most important aspect of a cell phone contract: monthly payments.

        1. You can’t. Not at all. I’m an attorney. I deal with fine print contracts as a career. And I couldn’t accurately determine our monthly bill from sprint (see my comment above).

    5. Look…I’m an attorney and I say that only to show that if anyone reads contracts, I probably do and I can tell you that sprint has lied to me many times. I once sat there for an hour running numbers in the store with an employee. By our calculations, my bill shouldn’t have been more than $275. It was $385. Never could figure out why. And the fine print? Yeah…it doesn’t actually have the total monthly cost. Our base bill should have been $200 on the plan I switched to…that’s all the information you get. Where’d the other $185 come from? Taxes are less than $20 and our phone payments were $100. So that’s still $60 off. The only info you get at the store is the base cost. By the time you get the regular bill, it’s too late to return the new phone and undo it all.

  3. Sprint’s representative was wrong in not disclosing changes to McMillian’s plan. But she was also at fault for signing without reading the contract. And I will not harp too much on personal responsibility. If gmail was the only thing not working she might have backed up the phone, deleted and re-installed the app. She might have talked to someone at Apple to see what the problem was with her phone. But then she might have an employed partner/spouse so that her finances are not at rock bottom. She got taken for a ride by Sprint and I am glad that you were able to help her. However she needs to take some of the responsibility for this fiasco–exploring other, less expensive options and reading all the material before she agrees to buy.

    1. Sprint doesn’t actually tell you what your monthly cost will be when you sign. They just tell you the base cost. Unless they’ve changed in the last 8 months.

  4. People believe that iPhone 6s are given away for free and then complain, and get their way. I am glad you helped and can I also have 2 new iPhone 6s for free please. Greed & stupidity combined.

      1. Edited. I am sorry for the words I used except it is really frustrating to do the right thing, read agreements before signing (even the tiny print ones), get travel insurance and so on, and then see people get pulled out of holes they could have easily avoided with a little common sense. We all pay the price.

        1. You’re Jeanie from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I get why you feel that way, but some day, you might end up in a hole despite your best efforts. And Chris will try to help you too if you ask.

    1. The problem is wireless companies often throw in free-phone deals, so there is nothing wrong to believe that iPhone 6s are given away for free. Here’s Sprint’s own words I could find in the Internet:

      > For a limited time, Sprint is offering two special deals: (1) Customers can get a free 16GB iPhone 6, valued at $199.99, after instant credit when they trade-in any used iPhone model at Sprint stores in good working condition and sign-up for a two-year agreement…
      http://newsroom.sprint.com/news-releases/sprint-announces-exclusive-new-rate-plan-for-iphone-6-and-iphone-6-plus-and-a-revolutionary-new-way-to-acquire-iphone.htm

      1. It is not free, you pay for it over the life of the plan, be it at a reduced rate due to the rebate or instant credit, or immediately if you terminate the plan. No such thing as “free”, except in this case I suppose.

        1. Exactly. Nothing is free, but it’s Sprint who is using the word “free”, which only makes the company’s sales practice deceitful.

        2. Ecept when you get the phone it is already built in to the rate plan. I highly doubt that the lady, upon completion of her original 2 year agreement saw a lower bill because the company found that it wasn’t subsidizing her phone for $15-$20 a month.
          I know I didn’t get a lower rate when I went off contract with Verizon even now I buy my own phone rather than have it subsidized.

          In these instances, I think the term shouldn’t be “free”, it should be “included in your rate plan”.

          1. My experience, too. We’ve been with Verizon for 15 years. Stopped being on contracts because the math just didn’t make sense and I wanted to be able to a) keep my grandfathered Unlimited data plan and b) walk away when/if I chose. I pay about $650 for each smartphone on our plan (4 of us) and nothing is deducted for not going on a 2 year subsidized contract. Makes me crazy! Wish I’d never gotten dependent on smartphone crack!

          2. I got a $10 per month reduction in my Verizon bill we I went off contract. Of course they didn’t offer it. I complained and they told me of course I should get a reduction in my bill. Ask and see what they say

  5. The problem remains that it should not take intervention of a consumer advocate to get this sleezebag company to do the right thing. Disgraceful.

    We’re back in the bad ole days of used car salesmen ripping off hardworking people, but now it’s phones they’re selling!

      1. Sprint is no more “sleazebag” than any other phone company or most other companies in general. “Free” is the buzz word for everything & we all want something for “free” so it works. When I see “free” the first thought is “how much is this going to cost me?”.

        1. Yes. It is. I absolutely despise sprint and it is my new goal in life to keep people from switching bc they’ll just go through hell. I have a wonderful sprint story. And I’m not unsophisticated. I have verified things with sprint five times before. Every single time everything they said was a lie.

  6. “Pay only the tax today” sounded like my recent saga. After upgrading my iPhone from the 4S to the 6 a couple weeks back, I am still undecided if the ATT representative was deliberately misleading or simply a poor communicator. The way it was communicated to me by the rep, I only had to pay the tax on the new phone and “nothing else” about my plan or bill would change. Turns out that wasn’t the case, as my bill would jump by a certain percentage to take into account that I would be paying for my phone on an installment basis over a period of the contract term, instead of all up-front like I wanted to. Luckily, “caveat emptor” kicked in and I went down the street to the Apple store instead to buy the phone directly from them and cut out the middle man. I figured out the discrepancy and saved a couple hundred bucks as well as a reoccurring headache. All that said, I’m glad you were able to help the lady get the charges reversed and her old plan back, I just wish she wasn’t rewarded for her own negligence by getting to keep the new phones. Doesn’t seem like a good way to reinforce a lesson.

      1. Defining negligence as “failure to take reasonable care,” I think taking a salesperson at their word, given their motivation to sell a product (and possibly/likely earn a commission), without reading through the plan details and the contract information constitutes negligence. It wasn’t until reading through my own proposed contract that I discovered the fee structure, but thankfully I hadn’t signed on the dotted line yet.

        1. Still disagree. Reading those small print full of legalese doesn’t always insure comprehension. Relying upon assurances of someone who who represents the company, asking questions to ensure understanding is also reasonable. Obviously Sprint thought something was amiss or wouldn’t have been so generous in their response.

          Just because he’s a salesman doesn’t mean he’s allowed to lie, and we should have a reasonable expectation of being told the truth about the pending transaction.

          1. Back after the dot com bubble burst, I was struggling to find work. I tried my hand at selling cars. We were told to lie, we were pressured to lie. After 2 long months I was fired for refusing to lie. Its the only time I was ever fired, and I am proud that I never lied to anyone. Sadly, I only sold 4 cars in those 2 months, while the average sales person sold 40.

          2. I am not going to defend the sales person here or disparage the customer. I do believe there could be an explanation on the Sprint side of this other than a sales person “lying.” This goes to the culture of a company so it still could be on Sprint. Sales people may not always be provided training on the contracts they ask customers to sign. I experienced this with a stock broker who tried to sell my mother an annuity. Now while I could argue that a good sales person will educate themselves even if their employer does not, the reality is that many do not and/or some companies discourage that. Or this sales person may have been telling the customer what he/she was trained to say, or what he/she understood the contract to say. So customers have to protect themselves at all times these days, even if it means being a pain in the store, taking the time to read everything, and perhaps asking for it in writing and walking away to study it before signing. I have personally experienced a lot of frustration trying to understand the terms of a new cellphone deal and I am trained to read contracts. I don’t like those electronic pads and I suspect that some companies love them because it makes it harder to read everything in context.

          3. Sadly I believe her. I had sprint for years and was repeatedly lied to, even after repeating what they said to me and asking again, up to five times, to be sure I knew what they were saying. And it was never correct information.

    1. I wish the way you bought your phone, was the only way to buy phones in the US. That is the way it works for most of the world. You pay for it up-front and in full, and then use your carrier of choice. Carriers compete on service alone. Here they have to come up with all sorts of sales tricks, free phones that aren’t free, and ridiculous installment plans that make people pay for their phones twice over just to covert he bad debt of those who skip out on the bill. The US is far to credit based

    2. I had exactly the same thing happen to me. I was given a small receipt showing that I was only paying the tax on the phone. I was actually told my bill would be $40 lower. I received my bill and found it was much higher than promised. I called AT&T and was told that they hear that a lot. That the associates at the stores aren’t 100% truthful with people. I received my bill exactly 34 days. Too late to return the phone. The rep on the phone gave me a $100 credit on the spot. I will never go to AT&T again.

    3. Think of it not as a reward, but as compensation for being lied to and put through this whole stressful experience. Feel better now?

      1. Not really. Full retail price through Sprint for a new iPhone 6 ranges from $650-$850 depending on the model (16GB, 64GB, or 128GB). Even at the low end that amounts to $1,300 in “compensation”…on top of getting the issue resolved. I’d be curious to know in what universe that kind of compensation is deemed reasonable.

          1. Good point. Sprint probably expensed it as PR costs after Chris included that tidbit in the resolution part of the article, too.

  7. Not to be too judgemental, but unemployed and yet nearly $2,000/year for phones? There must be less expensive options. (I’m going to get heat for this.)

    1. Yes, there are less expensive options. A non-contract provider would have been a good option for her and her son.

      We’ve used both Tracfone and (now) Consumer Cellular, and have had good phone service with both. Main reasons I got rid of Tracfone were 1) I wanted a smartphone, which Tracfone didn’t offer at the time (4 – 5 yrs. ago) and 2) dealing w/ their CS reps (based in Central & Latin America) was getting to be a real PITA. (Tracfone is owned by America Movil, which is based in Mexico.)

      When I switched to Consumer Cellular, I was unemployed/underemployed. We’re both now retired, and paying about $56/month for myself & hubby for a decent amount of voice, text, & data to share. I bought refurb iPhones (mine is a 4S, his is the 4 that I started with) from a national phone retailer, and they’ve worked fine. CC does offer a selection of phones you can buy from them, including iPhone 6. They use AT&T towers (they resell the time) so you’ve got nationwide service, but the phones have to be GSM-compatible (AT&T & T-Mobile use this standard). Our signal is 3G, but that hasn’t been a problem; whenever possible we use Wi-Fi to go online w/ the phones.

    2. Despite saying, “not to be judgemental” it is judgmental. You don’t get to decide what someone else does or doesn’t get to spend their money on when they’re unemployed. A phone is not a luxury these days, it’s a necessity. This may be this person’s sole source of communication and internet. If I had to choose between paying the phone company for a landline plus home internet and my internet enabled cell phone there would be no choice here. I would choose my phone over that any day.

      1. Sorry. I understand the need for a phone. I do not understand the need for one(s) that cost nearly $2,000/ year. And among the other responses to this post are some excellent – and

        1. I think you missed my point, the amount this individual spends on her phone is not the topic at hand here. Discussing their spending habits and their choices is being judgmental. They came here to resolve an issue with their carrier who obviously decided to send them through the ringer and you want to scrutinize their life choices. I just don’t think it’s very productive nor fair.

        2. They told her her bill wouldn’t go up. So the ultimate cost is irrelevant. She wouldn’t have done it if she’d known. I think that was pretty clear.

  8. Actually if I were the Sprint rep I would have deleted the gmail account from the phone and re-add it takes see if it fixes the problem before going the upgrade route.

        1. That’s what I thought when I tried to sell cars, and it got me fired. Most likely if the rep was caught by a manager helping someone, they would get in trouble or loose their job. They probably also have a quota with the same consequences.

      1. I have Sprint and have been to the Sprint store near me many times. They have a tech support group in the non-sales section of the store. The sales persons I have had have always taken me to tech support when I have a phone issue or question. I have also had sales people volunteer to help with phone questions. I agree that they are probably not paid to do that – but in this case the lack of a simple suggestion may have been part of the sales pitch to get the customer into a more expensive plan. That might not be illegal but it certainly comes across as dishonest.

    1. Most anyone should have done this without ever having gone to Sprint. There was probably 50 apps on the phone, causing the issues. They will appear once again in a few years after the apps have all been updated so many times that the phone can’t handle the demand from the app.

  9. One of the problems in the cell phone industry is that regional managers, store managers and sales people all have quotas that they must meet to remain in good standing with the company. The sales person will often lie and cheat to get a sale. The store manager and the regional manager look the other way, because if the sales people are not meeting their quotas, their livelihood is in jeopardy. The system can only be changed at the top and their is no incentive for carriers to do so. I’ve bought my last two phones (and service) on-line where I don’t have to interact with someone desperate for a sale and all of the numbers are right there for me to see before agreeing to the transaction.

  10. Something seems off here. The rate plan appears to be unreasonable ($424 per month for two iPhones and an iPad!) unless very possible feature were included. Then the resolution seems like it may be overly generous (they weren’t even asking to keep the iPhones). It makes me suspect that this was not an “honest” misunderstanding. It would be interesting to see the original copy of the agreement that the customer signed, not just a bill.

    1. I believe it was the OPs phone, her son’s phone and “2 other accounts, inlcuding an iPad” that were on the plan. Having talked to ATT when we were thinking of switching, I’d be willing to bet money that they somehow got talked into adding insurance, hotspot/tethering capability, etc… which starts to add up across devices. ,

  11. So I do think the sales person at Sprint was deceitful, but I also think the OP should have read. Further, I think sprint should have allowed them to un-do it and get their old phones back, maybe with a small penalty. Unemployed or not, I would have scoured everything to make sure there were no surprises. A new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus for free with no additional monthly costs plus iPad service sounds way to good to be true. While I voted yes, I also think the OP was unjustly enriched by receiving $1,400 minimum worth of phones that she gets to keep now with no cost.

    1. I do wonder though what happened to the old phones they turned in in the interim? Maybe giving them back wasn’t an option anymore? I’d guess they go to a “refurbisher” for future resale/replacements.

  12. If there is one thing all the commenters can agree on this case, it’s this: a $424 phone bill is ridiculous. It appeared to me that the only one person who didn’t share this common sense is the Sprint sales rep. Did he/she expect that someone who just wanted to fix Gmail is willing to pay $424?

  13. Forgive me for this, but if unemployed, why have a smartphone at all? Really? And then gets the windfall of keeping an iPhone 6? So I work 3 jobs, and can’t afford an iPhone 6, yet I’m sure I’m somehow paying for it. I knew gmail upgraded their accounts so you need newer systems, but another alternative? Get a new (free) email account.

    1. Just because someone is unemployed doesn’t mean they don’t have money. However, they are probably being careful with the money they do spend, keeping to a budget. Perhaps the budget allowed for the previous plan, but not the new jacked up rate.

      And having a smartphone while looking for a job would be advantageous. Emails, phone, directions to interview locations, website job notices.

      1. I guess her son needs one too–and the iPad? Even with savings this is above most means. Get a yahoo email, comcast, whatever, keep your iPhone 4, however antiquated it might be. But 2 6s? Still can get a basic smartphone, but savings don’t last long these days. I have job security and a good income, yet I don’t run out for a 6– there’s a little bit of entitlement with this! She got a cadillac when she should have settled for a Hugo. Then cries fowl. She’s smart enough to me to have a job!

        1. She goes in to have her i4 fixed, and she is told that she can have an i6 for the cost of the taxes. Personally, while I wouldn’t pay a $1 for an iPhone, it does sound like a good deal. Only the salesperson lied.

          Entitlement? None that I see. She didn’t demand or ask for the i6, it was offered at what was thought to be a good deal. She just wanted her phone fixed. I get a bit irked with people using the word “entitlement” when often it doesn’t apply. Entitlement is “the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.” The only special treatment she wanted was the salesman to be held to what he promised. If wanting people to be honest is an “entitment” count me as wanting to be entitled.

          Just because you don’t have an i6, it seems like you are taking it out on this person. You really know nothing of their situation. She accepted what she thought was a valid offer, but it turned out to be somewhat of a lie. She asked to be restored to the pre-new contract state, including her old phones. Seems reasonable to me.

      2. ALL of which were done with a basic internet connection and home phone service, at half the cost. Do people not realize that we all had to find jobs before the iPhone and Android? or even basic prepaid service or a basic land line and *gasp* the library.

        1. Things change. A friend of mine is unemployed and has found that without a high-speed Internet connection she can’t navigate the websites, let alone file online job applications.

          1. This is very true. Three unemployed friends absolutely needed a fast internet connection and a laptop or computer. My very cost conscious friend tried to do everything at the public library and found she could not access all of the online job applications and forms she needed. Plus the library has a time limit on using their computers. And if you don’t have a phone for call backs, forget it.

        2. I was just thinking about this last night. I received a text from an old college friend asking to meet up on Friday. I thought back to college, text messaging didn’t exist, and yet we were able to meet up with no problems. Wow have times changed.

          1. Isn’t that the truth? I keep wondering how we managed without computers or even answering machines, let alone smartphones and tablets and stuff.

      1. Yes, this! When our kids were young, we had a landline in case they needed to call 911 so the address was associated. Now, we got rid of the landline and I use my unlimited data plan phone w/ FoxFi for WiFi hotspot/internet and we can all get on it and it works beautifully without a dedicated internet plan.

          1. They didn’t when I had an iPhone (4). And I’ve read a few threads that seem to imply they don’t have a good alternative to it either. 🙁

  14. Just a general comment: I don’t think it’s accurate to say that Apple deliberately slows apps to make people upgrade. Apps are continually updated by their developers to match the most recent OS. It’s no different than trying to use TurboTax for 2014 on, say, Windows 3.1.1. Eventually the app/program is simply no longer back-compatible.

    1. Uh…then they probably shouldn’t mark the new app as compatible and try to push it to an old phone. Sounds like a developer screwup. Unless they totally change the nature of the service (and there’s no reason they really would), there is no good reason that an older Gmail app would totally fail. My 4 year old Android phone still did Gmail just fine until I upgraded last summer.

  15. Yes each version of iOS gets a little bigger and takes more horsepower to work. If you have an older iPhone, you probably should stay with an older version of the operating system.

    Did the phone upgrade fix her gmail problem? From an iPhone there are many ways to access gmail, e.g. Apple’s Mail App, Google’s Gmail App, gmail.google.com, and others.

  16. What lesson should she take out of this? Go to the Apple Store next time you have a problem with your iPhone… They may be expensive but at least they would have looked it for free…

    1. The last time I walked into the Apple Store for a phone issue, I walked out with a brand new phone a few minutes later and it was 100% free. Same model. They said it had a known defect and it was easier to give me a new one that repair it. My phone was over 2 years old and I didn’t have an extended warranty. I was pleasantly surprised.

      1. They are pretty good about standing behind their stuff. I had an iPhone 4 way out of warranty (just before the 6 came out). I didn’t want to upgrade yet because the 6 was coming out the next month, so they offered me a refurb for $100. Not bad for a phone that was two years out of warranty.

  17. Is there any industry more user-hostile and arguably corrupt than “big telecom” – including both cable and wireless phone companies?

  18. I don’t think this was a “not reading” problem. I think it was a “customer not understanding what was explained to her” problem. Just a hunch; I could be wrong.

  19. The Att ‘next’ plan has worked well for us. We get a new phone every two years and our bill is the same every month – $200. We are not heavy users and never exceed the data plan which is 1gb.

  20. Exactly right. Although eventually you will/need that upgrade. I was perfectly happy with my 4 on iOS 6, but eventually the apps I relied on the most wouldn’t run properly anymore, so I upgraded to a 5s. But I’m not planning to move beyond that for as long as possible. The 6 is physically larger than I want!

  21. It’s just so sad that Americans can’t even trust an employee in a company store not to try to cheat them. And I know Chris is right, the employees are trained to upsell constantly by whatever means they need to use.

  22. Has anyone tried to read that wall of small text? My eyes were crossing trying to keep focus. Yes, it is disclosed, but I’m of the personal opinion that the fine print is formatted to be illegible to the lay person. Unreadable by design…

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