A cellphone bill for $14,000 is no small issue. In an interview with DigitalJournal.com, a San Francisco woman explains how she fought Sprint’s outrageous bill using the power of a YouTube complaint video.
Digital Journal — Calling customer service isn’t enough. It’s a lesson Krystyl Baldwin learned recently when she complained to Sprint about a cellphone bill she received totalling $14,062. The San Francisco resident had signed up for the unlimited Mobile Broadband data plan, only to be faced with a bill that would leave any jaw unhinged.
Like any outraged customer stuck with an erroneous bill, Baldwin complained to Sprint’s customer service hotline about the over-charging. She explained she was mistakenly placed on an analog plan instead of the EVDO plan.
It wasn’t enough for Baldwin to fight the telco with constant phone calls. Using the widespread popularity of YouTube appealed to the 23-year-old, so she posted a “complaint video” (see below) about the $14,000 Sprint bill. (Complaint videos are common on YouTube because customers can voice their frustration about a service or product, showing people evidence such as mailed letters). Once the video reached the well-known blog Consumerist, Sprint finally decided to take some action.
DigitalJournal.com wanted to find out how Baldwin handled the ordeal, why Sprint sent her a $14,000 bill and what was the outcome of this customer complaint gone global.
Explain how you ended up with a bill of $14,000 for one month of Sprint's Mobile Broadband.
I signed up for the unlimited $59.99 plan through Sprint, which meant I could be online as long as I wanted. It would only cost me $59.99 no matter where I was.
There is no explanation. I signed up online for the unlimited plan, and was having issues with the first broadband card that they sent me. I called to cancel the plan, but the gentleman offered me the same service at a lower price and sent me a new broadband card. The service he put me on was not the new EVDO technology. He put me on analog without realizing it. The end result was a $14,000 bill.
Were you aware of all the fine print details in the Sprint plan? Do you view the "unlimited" phrasing misleading?
The unlimited plan is not misleading, but the speeds that it promises are not to be expected. I got speeds of up to 14k, not broadband speeds like they assure you will get in certain areas. I am in the San Francisco area so there is no excuse for a 14k connection.
What motivated you to make a YouTube video about this issue?
The motivation came when I saw the bill was $14,000. I had spoken with a few of my tech friends who have had a lot of billing issues with Sprint. Of course, nothing this extreme. And we all came to the conclusion that it would be smart to make the average consumer aware that Sprint is not the best company to go with. Their area coverage is not what it’s supposed to be, and their customer service isn’t made up of the smartest of people.
What is the outcome of this billing? Are they demanding that money from you?
I got a phone call from an Account Manager at Sprint not because I had filed a complaint with them but because he had seen my bill on Consumerist.com and wanted to call and follow up with me. He felt horrible at what had happened and was going to see to it that something was rectified. It was an error on their part and in turn they actually owe me money.
I was disappointed to learn that the customer service phone call really didn’t do any good by filing a complaint. I received a quicker response by posting the video on the Internet.
Update: Baldwin says Sprint has dropped all the charges and they apologized for the high bill. Baldwin also says Sprint didn’t offer her anything to retain her as a customer.
What's your opinion of Sprint's service, or Sprint in general?
I am really disappointed. For such a large company to have such a huge error like that is ridiculous. I am also disappointed that they could not have helped me right away. I do not feel that something like this should be put off for a week until someone gets back to you. I am clearly not the only one that this has happened to, and I’m sure I will not be the last.