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Archive: August 13, 2005

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my positive Sprint experience

Saturday,  08/13/05  10:12 AM

Are you sitting down?  Are you holding any sharp objects?  No?  Good.  Because you aren’t going to believe this…

I’ve had a positive experience with Sprint.  Let me repeat that because I’m sure you think it’s a typo: I’ve had a positive experience with Sprint.  Yes, this is the same Sprint that finished at the bottom of a recent J.D.Power & Associates survey of mobile phone providers, a survey more notable for the fact that every one of the providers was despised than for the differences between providers.

Here’s what happened.  Of course your mileage may vary.

So I have a Treo 600 phone.  I love it, by the way, but that credit goes entirely to Handspring PalmOne and not to Sprint.  (There is now a Treo 650 out which is even cooler, and which I’m eyeing covetously, but I digress.)  The other week I had a minor incident while driving which resulted in my Treo being bathed in coffee.  That’s another story which I won’t relate here.  Overall the Treo emerged from its coffee bath operational, but a few quirks appeared, most notably the battery was somewhat hosed and as a result my phone suddenly became much more sensitive to signal strength.  It worked, but it stopped working well.

A brief digression.  This tip courtesy of Greg Crandall.  If you ever have an item of personal electronics bathed in coffee or some other liquid, do the following:  1) Remove the battery (if possible).  2) Rinse thoroughly in clean water.  Yes, you read that right, rinse thoroughly in clean water.  Bottled water is good, distilled water is even better.  3) Dry thoroughly using a hair dryer.  Chances are good that the device will still work.  Really really.

A while back, when I first bought my Treo 600, I decided to subscribe to Sprint’s “extended care plan”.  I am not usually a fan of extended warranties, they seem like a ripoff, but somehow this seemed worth doing.  Maybe it was the fact that the plan only cost $6/month, and my phone cost $500.  The extended care plan has two parts, first, Sprint extends the manufacturer’s warranty through the life of the phone (while you own it), and second, Sprint offers a no-questions-asked replacement in the event your phone is lost or damaged via a company called Lock/Line.  (More on Lock/Line in a moment.)  Since Handspring offered a 90-day warranty and I was planning to own my phone a lot longer than that, this seemed like a good deal, with the added bonus that if I lost or damaged the phone (or dipped it in coffee), I’d get a replacement.

After struggling with my now-really-sensitive-to-signal-strength phone for a couple of weeks, I decided to put the extended care program to the test.  I called Sprint, reported the problem, and they said “call Lock/Line”.  Sigh, here we go, I thought.  So I called Lock/Line, jumped through about 10 hoops, finally reached a human, and they said “call Sprint”.  Sigh, here we go again, I thought.

You see, there’s a weird tension in the business relationship between Sprint and Lock/Line.  Sprint offers an extended warranty, while Lock/Line offers insurance.  They are both bundled together in Sprint’s “extended care plan”.  The difference is that warranty covers defects in the phone, while insurance covers everything else.  Lock/Line wants every problem to be a defect, so it is covered by Sprint’s warranty, while Sprint wants every problem not to be defect, so it is covered by Lock/Line’s insurance.

The Sprint customer support rep asked a few questions about what happened, and then determined that obviously it was not a manufacturing defect, so obviously it wasn’t covered by their extended warranty.  That’s why they had me call Lock/Line.  The Lock/Line customer support rep asked a few questions about what happened, and then determined that obviously it was a manufacturing defect, so obviously it was covered by Sprint’s extended warranty.  Sometimes in this situation the consumer is the loser, you end up falling through the cracks between the finger pointing.  But in this case the relationship works, because one way or another, you are covered.  In the end the Lock/Line rep prevailed and was able to file the Sprint warranty claim on my behalf.  This seems like a bad thing from Sprint’s point of view but it was a great thing from my point of view, because I received a new phone for a processing fee of $10.

I’ve had my Treo 600 for about 18 months, so I’ve paid 18 x $6 = $108 in “insurance premiums”.  Therefore the new phone cost me $118 plus about an hour on the phone with Sprint and Lock/Line.  Of course I could have destroyed my phone earlier, or never, that’s how insurance works.  On average I would say I do destroy a phone every couple of years or so.  (On one memorable occasion I left one on the roof of my car, and watched it fly off onto the freeway…)

After the warranty claim was filed, I received a brand new Treo 600 four days later.  The phone arrived with detailed and accurate instructions about how to activate the new phone and how to return the old one.  I followed the instructions and am now happily using my brand new Treo 600.  Oh, and of course the extended care plan covers this phone, too, so I can do the coffee bath thing every year or so and have a new phone forever.

Anyway as I said your mileage may vary but this was a positive customer service experience with Sprint.  And if you have an expensive phone I can recommend Sprint’s extended care plan, it is a good deal.

P.S. Note to self – one of the most positive aspects of the whole experience was the detailed and accurate instructions about how to activate the new phone which came with the replacement.  Documentation is so important.

 

 

Saturday,  08/13/05  08:33 PM

Hey, guess what?  I'm becoming more popular!  Yay!  Nothing is more annoying than naked self-congratulation, so let's see if I can make a real point out of this.  My blog hits have been climbing, and more interestingly the hits on my RSS feed have increased, too.  Either more people are discovering this blog or maybe there's just a sort of rising tide effect, where there are more people reading blogs in general, and therefore at random more of them end up here.  Weird.  Anyway thanks for dropping by and reading.  This is an ego-driven blog, I write for me and you!

oil prices in real dollarsSteve Verdon points out that we are experiencing record inflation, but we are not experiencing record old prices.  "Sure it is a record in nominal dollars, but this is like looking at your paycheck and saying you are rich because you are earning so much more than you did 25 years ago.  You see, 25 years ago the price of oil was just under $40/barrel.  So what is $40 from 1980 worth today?  Ninety four dollars and 42 cents."  (According to this graph, during 1978-1986 oil prices were higher than today.)  Of course he's right, but I must say I think we are going to be experiencing record oil prices "soon".  We have a finite resource, the supply of which is decreasing, and the demand of which is increasing.  You do that math.  [ via Megan McArdle ]

Of course I have to point out as I always do, the nuclear option is our best option.

Christopher Hitchens wonders if the left really wants us to lose the war.  "There is a sort of unspoken feeling, underlying the entire debate on the war, that if you favored it or favor it, you stress the good news, and if you opposed or oppose it you stress the bad.  I do not find myself on either side of this false dichotomy."  Indeed.  Let the truth out, and it is what it is.  Of course this ignores the unpleasant fact that people vote based on perceptions rather than reality.

I love Australian Prime Minister John Howard.  He isn't fooled, and sets a reporter straight.  "Can I remind you that the murder of 88 Australians in Bali took place before the operation in Iraq.  And I remind you that the 11th of September occurred before the operation in Iraq."  Fire on 'em, John!

Talk about a setup line: California beach boast world's pickiest females.  This would be fiddler crab females.  In my experience, human females in California are considerably less picky :)

My recent positive experiences watching OLN's coverage of the 2005 Tour de France have reinforced for me how great it will be when we have iTunes for movies.  I've always been one to say people consume video differently from audio.  You can listen to music anywhere and when you're doing other things, but watching video you do in your family room, in a dedicated way.  I'm starting to think that isn't quite right.  I've watched quite a bit of the Tour on my computer, while working.  (Maybe "listened" rather than "watched" would be the right verb, except that of course when something happens you can back up and watch.)  An awful lot like the way I consume baseball; I Tivo the game, and watch it while I'm working or blogging or something.

I'm really sure Apple is going to do this.  They aren't dumb, and they're in the catbird seat to make it happen.  Only question is when?  Will it be this winter?  I think so, but that could just be wishful thinking :)

super-hearing aidThis is pretty cool and entirely expected: Hearing Aids for the Unimpaired.  "Technology may soon give us superhuman hearing, recorders that prompt names at cocktail parties, and even ear devices that look fashionable."  Of course the trend is going to continue, the same technology which corrects deficiencies in our senses can also enhance them beyond normal.  Soon we'll have glasses with a heads' up display inside them, fed via bluetooth from your personal computer (which is also your mobile phone).  We'll have hearing aids which let you hear across the room, translate from foreign languages, recognize people, etc., again connected to your personal computer.  Does anyone really doubt this will happen?  In the next ten years, even?  Of course it will!  What a great time to be alive.

A lot of the information you'll see inside your glasses or hear in your ear will come from Google.  People are doing the coolest things with Google Maps, such as combining them with U.S. census information.  Want to know how many people live on a given block?  Now you can.  [ via Cory Doctorow ]

Denny Wilson, aka Grouchy Old Cripple, uncorks a rant.  (And when he rants, he rants.)  With which I completely agree, by the way.  [ via acidman, who agrees, too... ]

Seems Clive Thompson agrees with me about the uselessness of the space shuttle: Houston, we have a problem.  Indeed.

The other day I noted Andrew Grumet's comparison of the iPod Mini to the Zen Micro.  FastCompany has an interesting article about the companies trying to compete with the iPod.  "The iPod -- with its sublime design, intuitive usability, and unparalleled cool quotient -- set a new standard by which all other MP3 players would be judged.  Six rivals talk about designing their answer to an icon."  A classic example of a failed strategy comes from the Sony product manager; her first line is "At Sony, we believe what customers really want is choice."  WRONG.  No customer wants choice, they just want the perfect product.  Choice is what you do when you can't design one product which is perfect for everyone.

Dave Winer: Why the customer is always right.  He's right :)  Seriously, the market is always right.  That's why it is silly to argue that the iPod isn't a great product.

 
 

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