I recently switched from Verizon to Sprint’s network. I was getting tired of Verizon charging $127 every month for 2 phone lines that only give 2GB data, unlimited phone, and text service. In my opinion, it possibly can’t cost $127 a month to provide that service. It could be why Verizon enjoys a fat 14% net profit margin from billions of dollars in revenue. This is where Sprint comes in.
Sprint has a promotion going on where if you switch from Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile’s network, Sprint will offer to charge half of what you were paying. The disclaimer is that your bill won’t get exactly slashed by half, but the plan offers very nice savings and switching networks gave me around 40 – 45% in monthly savings. Sprint will even cover up to $650 of switching costs, which sounds great until I tried submitted my early termination fee and was notified that I wouldn’t receive anything back. What gives?!
The First Visit
The day that I went to Sprint to actually switch, I asked if it was OK to keep my current Verizon phone and not have to lease a phone with Sprint. They said it was fine. Then I was worried about the termination fees so I made sure to ask the sales associates if the bill will be completely be covered. No worries again.
Afterwards, I went back, happy that I got ~45% monthly savings on my phone bill. Yeah baby, more money in my pocket! I received a $150 early termination fee bill from Verizon and happily logged onto my Sprint account to get them to pay it.
Sprint’s online chat service told me that because I didn’t turn in my old Verizon phone and didn’t lease a new Sprint phone, I didn’t qualify for the early termination fee to be waived. The chat went for an hour and went something along these lines:
Them: I see what the problem is, you didn’t turn in your phone and didn’t lease with us so we are unable to reimburse the early termination fee.
Me: I was told otherwise in-store, the associates said that I would qualify and not to worry about the bill.
Them: If you were told otherwise, we wouldn’t want to mislead our customers, we can make an appointment to the store to resolve this issue.
By this time, I moved halfway across the country and didn’t have time to drive 1200 miles to and back just to take care of this issue. I made the appointment anyways and told them thanks. When the appointment time came, I called them instead of going to the store because in my mind, there was no difference between getting this resolved in-store and over the phone.
I spoke with an associate, let’s call him Matt, who wasn’t the one that set up the service. He figured out why I wasn’t qualified but didn’t know what had actually happened because he wasn’t the one who specifically helped me on the day that I signed up so he took down my information to give me a call back the next day.
Next day arrived. This was how the call went that lasted 15 minutes.
Matt: The other associate, let’s call him Phil, said that he specifically remembered me coming into the store and remembers telling me that I would be responsible for the early termination fee on my own.
Me: No, I specifically remember asking him if my fee would be covered and he reassured me that it would. I was under the expectation that it would be covered, which is why I switched to Sprint. Even if he did say otherwise or not, it wasn’t explicit enough to the point that it would influence my choice / behavior.
The call was 15 minutes of repeating the conversation above. But that was fine. Every time that he said something contrary to me, I would repeat the same sentence in different words because I didn’t want to back down. The issue was moved to the next day where I would be able to talk to the manager of the store.
The call with the manager lasted 5 minutes. Quick and simple.
Manager: What happened?
Me: I explain.
Manager: Let me double check with my director and check the tapes from when you came in to make sure what was exactly communicated and I’ll get back to you the next day.
I knew I wasn’t lying so I was glad that he would do that. If anything, I was glad because I knew that I would be able to at least partially receive something.
The next day. The call I’ve been waiting for.
Manager: We checked the tapes but it is a little blurry / distorted so we can’t verify. Therefore, after talking to my director, we can offer a partial rebate of $75 that will go into effect on your future bills.
Me: I accept.
$75 is sure as heck better than paying $150. If the evidence that I need to prove my case was distorted, I was happy to have gotten at least half of it back. $75 for roughly an hour and a half of work is great. I actually ran the numbers and found that there was no difference between my alternative and what I received. The alternative would have been to wait 2 more months to switch to Sprint and make Verizon richer with no justification.
The spreadsheet is a little blurry but the gist is that my alternative to avoid the $150 termination fee would be to wait 2 more months and switch. This would have a difference of $13, which isn’t significant over 2 years of time. I in turn got to practice negotiating, dealing with people, and standing my ground. It was a price well paid, in my opinion.
This was my second negotiation in the real world. The first time, it was for my car, and the second time, it was with getting what was owed to me. I learned some valuable lessons while going through this process and it has been rewarding.
Readers, have you gone through negotiation lately or ever? What has been your story? Has it been successful and what did you gain from it? Let me know in the comments below.
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