WiFi Done Wrong: The Sprint Way

As a 15 year cell phone user, I am rarely surprised to hear the various ways that cellular companies will try to screw their customers. I left Sprint for T-Mobile when Sprint changed their policy to force users into a two-year contract extension for any account change, as that seemed like extortion that flew in the face of market competition. In most cases companies try to be competitive in the market place in regards to their offerings. It seemed to me that Sprint knew they were losing market share and rather than be competitive they chose the route of trying to lock customers in with unreasonable contract extensions for minor service changes.

As wireless internet access has ballooned in popularity lots of companies have wanted a piece of the pie. Cell phone carriers such as Sprint and T-Mobile have jumped in; and at least one carrier seems to have brought its poor attitude with it.

I was at the Oakland airport recently and they have a Sprint WiFi network. Apparently it doesn’t have a peering agreement with T-Mobile, so my regular account won’t work. They do offer a 24 hour ‘day pass’ for $9.95. I’ve got three hours to kill, and no book to read, so I sign up and agree to pay for my day pass. Lucky for me that I did, because an issue arose at the office that I was able to deal with just before my boarding group was called.

Off I fly to Chicago where I land at the Midway Airport. Midway also has WiFi, so I decide to login and check my email in case that last minute issue I handled has blossomed into a disaster. Midway doesn’t use T-Mobile either, though there was a pseudo peering agreement in place. I could use my T-Mobile, but an additional charge would be billed to my account. My T-Mobile account belongs to a client who lets me use it so I can provide them with roaming support, and I don’t want to add an unexpected charge to their bill. A ‘day pass’ is $6.95 and I’m about to pay it when I realize that they have a peering agreement with Sprint. Well, it’s still the same day, so I check to see if my Sprint day pass is still working. I log in without any problems and check my email before leaving the airport.

Around midnight that same night I’m checking email in my hotel room and I get a billing summary from Sprint. I was charged for two day passes. I called Sprint to verify, and yes, a day pass is only good for the location that your purchase it. Logging into the second location automatically charged me for a second day pass, even though Sprint was charging $3 more than I would have paid had I just signed up with the provider at Midway.

I am sure that the monkeys at Sprint thought they were quite clever coming up with a policy that geographically locked a day pass, and would cause some customers to pay multiple times in the same day. Clever they were for that additional $9.95 they got me to pay. There is a fine line between clever and stupid though, and while I was talking to the Sprint customer service drone I had him delete my account. I will never again spend a dime with Sprint; not on cell phones, wifi access, or whatever they think to offer next. Take that Sprint, and shove it up your clever marketing ass. Was it worth $9.95 to lose a customer forever?


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