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Did you know that a home without an international calling plan is like running around without medical insurance?  You could lose your life savings if you or perhaps an unwitting stranger starts dialing from your Sprint home.

Whatís the admin cost of sorting out the mess that telemarketing, regulation, and administrative bureaucracy, have created?

Whatís a customer to do?  BLOG it!   Then google ďSprint Rates International DeceptionPlanetfeedback FTC(FTC notes at end) 

I just got off the phone with Sprint my long distance company of the last 3.5 months.  I just received my fourth bill from them.  The bill contained a charge for one international call to France for 97 minutes for $177.51.  This is my home bill!  Total this month $263.56.  An increase from last months bill $11.55

I quickly rang Sprint 1-866-202-4458 had the usual key your number in run aroundÖ then got Mark on the phone.  He promptly asked me for my home number again.  I informed Mark of my shock / horror at the cost of this one call to France.  The rate $1.83 per minute.  Total $ 177.51!  This was the only call Iíve made using Sprint internationally during the period.  It is not the only international call.  He located the bill and informed me this charge was because I wasnít on Sprintís international plan.  According to Mark the mistake is mine, When transferring from MCI encouraged by United mileage plus (where I had a $4.95 per month international calling plan) and collect miles for calls the Sprint sales rep who read me the policies on the transfer said the new plan would be cheaper.  I had shared that from time to time there were many international calls some of long duration.. I was assured Iíd be better off.

Mark offered me a 30% discount to settle.  I said that 30% still meant I was being charged at almost 10 times their normal international rate.  Mark confirmed that if I was on their international $7.95 call plan the rate would have been $.14 per minute and thus the call charge would have been $13.58.  I asked him if he had authority to adjust my account appropriately.  ďNo.Ē  Me:  ďPlease may I talk to your supervisor?Ē

After a ďdead line holdĒ Peggy came on the line.  I repeated my story.  She again offered 30%.  She also caved in to agreeing with me that even at 30% the revised charge for the call $124.26 was pretty outrageous.  By this time Iíd checked though all my records.  Peggy said I would have been notified of my rates.  Well yes I received something that said I was on the California plan.  I also received a terms and condition booklet.  Nowhere in any of this can I see any international rates quoted at all.  (In fact if you go to the website you wonít find these rates either.  Literally, if you fail to take an international plan you cannot check the rates there! I donít know where they are publically!) However it is easy to check reasonable rates internationally just look up 1010629. 

Peggy again offered 30% (all we are trained to give). I asked to speak with her supervisor.  She said I would have to write to the correspondence department.  I then received the strong arm.  Unlike Mark she asked would I like to accept the 30% off and added you must remain a customer for 90 days in order for this to be granted.  I complained, saying this wasnít the terms Mark had offered me.  I then became cautious.  I asked that if I accept the 30% now does that mean Iíve accepted the terms.  She said that yes that would then be entered as resolution to the dispute.  So I am now forced to write to Sprint correspondence department.  According to Peggy is will be two to four weeks before I will hear anything from that action. 


So crudely the way I figure it Sprint still wants $177, but will settle for $124, for a change that if not misrepresented over four months would have cost me a max of $45.38.  So it looks like Iím out of pocket at least $80 and it could be more cause they want to lock me in.  I despise SPRINT now.  There are no redeeming qualities; there are no ethics, only fine print.  How many can I tell this story to? 

Iíll send my letter to Sprint.  Simply because this has cost me an hour this evening!  May as well start running up their admin bill.  I think these are deceptive trade practices.  Iím sure there are Public Commissions and Watchdogs.  It looks like they are pretty ineffective! Itís also time time time.  There remain other twists in the picture.  My old long distance carrier MCI is still trying to charge me $4.95 per month for my old international calling plan.  That bill and charge were active when Sprint made this claim.  Iíll change my long distance and international company as soon as I can.   Till then Iím almost scared to make a call!

Some FTC notes. 

  • According to the FTC's "Policy Statement on Deception," there exists deception "if there is a representation, omission or practice that is likely to mislead the consumer acting reasonably in the circumstances, to the consumer's detriment."
  • Another relevant statement by the FTC regarding pricing is as follows: "Depending on the circumstances, accurate information in the text may not remedy a false headline because reasonable consumers may glance only at the headline. Written disclosures or fine print may be insufficient to correct misleading representations."
  • The FTC concludes: "The Commission will find an act or practice deceptive if there is a misrepresentation, omission, or other practice that misleads the consumer acting reasonably in the circumstances, to the consumer's detriment."

I thought I acted reasonably in changing my account.  I accepted Sprints advice in good faith.  Between the cable companies, the telephone company, the long distance companies, wireless providers (always dropping lines) the satellite companies, the yahoo dslís the financial privacy and information sharing agreements, homeland security and who knows what else, there are timesÖ when we may wish we could turn it all off. 


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