Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hell on Earth

Trouble with my cell phone a few days ago had me scrambling for most of the day trying to find a solution to what anyone would have called a simple problem—everyone that is except Sprint and the folks at Best Buy where I bought the phone. In a post last Wednesday I wrote a little about this problem and the frustrations that followed, wondering then if I shouldn’t just throw the phone away. But really, how many people do you know who throw their phone away? Hyperbole sometimes looks good on paper, but…

The experience last Tuesday started with two interminable hours on the phone (not mine) with Sprint tech support explaining the problem to two different reps who…well, let’s just say English was a problem. In the end I gave up and said I would take the problem to where I bought the phone less than one year ago. Twenty-two miles and forty minutes later I sat down with a young lady at the cell phone counter in Best Buy. She listened to my explanation, took the cell phone but immediately answered a call on her cell phone. She continued to fiddle with my phone with one hand and upon finishing her call handed my phone back saying it was okay, that she had reinstalled the ABC and deleted the XYZ. The phone was showing full bars and she even told me to call her number to be sure. It worked.

For fifteen minutes. Whatever the Best Buy rep did to the phone, it didn’t last. So, I drove the long road home and went to the Sprint office in my little beachtown. The man I spoke to there fiddled with the phone, clicked a few keys on the computer and said it was fixed. “Look. it’s only showing one bar in the window,” I pointed out. “Oh, don’t worry. That’s okay,” he answered. “But if you’re worried about it you can take it to the Sprint store in Port Orange. The guy there is real sharp.” Port Orange is only eighteen miles away.

The second fix was just as short-lived as the first, so the following morning I made the long drive over to the Port Orange Sprint store to have the ‘real sharp guy’ check out my phone. He and another store rep huddled over my phone and did ‘phone speak’ for about twenty minutes, jiggled some buttons and pronounced it cured. Could you blame me for being just a wee tiny bit skeptical about that pronouncement? Back in the car and a half mile down the road the phone died on the seat next to me. That was enough for one day. I pushed the problem out of my head.

Saturday and Sunday passed, my telephone working in a sort of hit ’n miss fashion, though incoming calls were blocked. On Monday noon I retuned to Best Buy in Daytona, determined to speak to the store manager and demand a new telephone. At first, the same young lady, the one from last Tuesday with the full body tattoos asked if she could help me, and I asked for the supervisor. He came over and listened to the whole story then went to work pressing buttons and adjusting the ABC. Another rep drifted over and suggested resetting the phone. “Oh, yes! Let’s try that.” And there went my contacts in a poof of smoke. I suggested a new phone, an upgrade of the broken one and I would happily pay the $9.99 listed, but was told it would cost $279.99 unless I waited until May of 2013 and then it would be $9.99. Then I got the suggestion to take the broken phone to ANOTHER Sprint store in Ormond Beach ten miles away. Naturally I got lost trying to find it.

Inside the Ormond Beach Sprint store a man was filling out the forms for a new phone, the store rep pointing where to sign and initial the pages. My first words were to the man signing the papers. “Are you sure you want to do that?” The store rep looked at me as if I were crazy, which by that time was pretty much the case. But he listened to my story and suggested I send the phone back to the maker asking for a replacement. “That will cost $36.95 and take 3-5 days, and then you'll have to drive the thirty miles from home back to Ormond beach to pick up the phone.” Oh, super cool I thought; only five days more without a phone, and I get to pay. Why not send the new phone to the Sprint store where I live? For some reason they couldn’t do that, but they could send it to the Port Orange store.

After I had refilled my gas tank and driven once more to the Port Orange Sprint store I was told I couldn’t exchange the phone because the case has a small crack, though the crack was unrelated to the problem with the phone. The same man who had failed to repair the phone several days earlier looked closely at my face, saw something dangerous there and quickly offered, “Let me see what I can do.”

It was a post Easter miracle but he found and fixed the problem. According to him, the problem was not with the phone but with the Sprint network which had for reasons known only to God and the twelve disciples dropped all my data through a digital crack, and as far as Sprint was concerned I no longer existed. The ‘real sharp guy’ in Port Orange put all that data back into the network.

Have you ever wondered about hell on earth?


  1. Well, Dante, you certainly have been through the fires of cell phone hell. Remember the old days when there was a phone booth on every other corner? And way back the problem was waiting for someone to get off the shared party line. Now it's either iffy service or folks texting/talking and weaving all over the road. Let's go back to the days when smoke was a signal and not a cell customer fuming in cell hell over the lack of unrepairable signal bars.

  2. I know that you use Sprint because you can use it inside your condo, but with the happening of your post today, I would quickly be an ex-Sprint user. That is a horrible story and it truly could be labeled "Hell on earth".


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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America