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From Sprint to Verizon

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

I'd like to share a recent experience.

At work we've been using Sprint as our cellular carrier for many years. This goes back to the days of Nextel and their push-to-talk (iDEN) network. Back then the maintenance guys were the only people with school issued phones and they used them as walkie-talkies when available and cellular phones when not. Sprint purchased Nextel and more and more people start getting phones, then Blackberries, then Droids and iPhones.

Sprint hasn't had the best coverage in this area and when they decommissioned all the old Nextel iDEN towers back in May they promised the coverage would get better because all of those towers would be converted to Sprint towers. I'm still waiting for it to get better. In fact not only did the cellular coverage not get better, all of our Nextel push-to-talk (PTT) phones got replaced with Sprint PTT phones and their PTT network is worse than the Nextel one ever was. At least now the patents on that PTT service have expired and all carriers now offer it.

A couple days ago my Sprint HTC Evo 3D phone gave up on life. I had been having battery-life problems for months and recently many processes like "google search" or other very useful apps would refuse to run and crash all the time. On that morning I went to work and the phone rebooted on its own, like it does every few days, but this time it never came back up. It would just reboot and reboot and reboot. Pulling the battery didn't help. Doing a factory reset didn't help either. I saw this as an opportunity to switch from Sprint and get a company that would actually work for me. My phone was over a year old (the contract length for Gov't/Education accounts) and we already had an open Verizon account for a certain admin's iPad, so I figured I would just not renew with Sprint and go with Verizon.

First I call my Verizon rep to find out what I have to do to get a new phone ASAP and port my number. His number now belongs to someone else. I call the main Verizon support number and after many transfers I get to someone in the Gov/Ed department who can tell me who my current rep is. I tell him I need a phone that day so he says to go to a retail store to get the phone. I drove out to the nearest Verizon store and waited about 15 minutes for someone to help me just to find out that government accounts can't be touched at the stores. You'd think the guy in that department would know this and not send me on a fool's errand. By this time I'm rather annoyed and the nice lady at the store says she can get me a phone and have them switch it onto our account later when I talk to my rep, but I'd have to pay for the phone myself. That wasn't going to happen.

So after a wasted hour+ I was back on the phone, this time with my rep. The best he could do was get me a phone overnighted (by 10am). He asked for the info on our current Sprint account, including the account number and password so they can port the number.

The next day I get an email from someone in the port center saying they need a 6-10 digit PIN in order to port my number. I don't have any such PIN. I called my Sprint rep to find out Sprint has beefed-up their security and had all their customers created PINs for their accounts. Nobody at Harley created a PIN so Sprint generated one for us and never bothered to tell us. My Sprint rep said the best he could do is have them (snail) mail me the PIN which could take multiple business days. At this point I called Sprint's help center and started trying to get them to change our PIN. Obviously they needed the current PIN in order to change it. They said they could authenticate the account by talking to the main point-of-contact associated with the account. I asked who that was and was told me they couldn't tell me. I asked what number they have for this person and was told they couldn't tell me that either! This is a business where people get hired and quit/retire all the time, and they expect the same person to be the point of contact from like 10 years ago. I did get them to say yes/no to a few names and found out who the POC is, but the number they had for this person was not the correct number. After arguing some more I got them to update the POC's number with the correct one and call him. He wasn't able to answer any of their security questions. I finally had to threaten them with moving all 25 phone lines to a different carrier if they didn't get with the program and reset the PIN. Once they imagined that money fly out of their pockets they were more than happy to reset our PIN so I could port my one number away from them.

I couldn't believe how difficult it was to get this done. Yes, I understand they're trying to make things secure, but asking questions like "what street did you grow up on" to someone representing a business is just stupid. And no, the street the business is located on was not the answer to that question.

So now I'm the proud owner of a new Motorola Razr Maxx HD on a network where I can actually make and receive calls in my home/work area.

Tags: cell phone

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