Customer Frustration

I’ve been setting up my new phone, a Samsung Galaxy S III on Straight Talk. I switched to it from my Samsung Nexus S 4G on Credo Mobile for several reasons:

  1. Credo is on the Sprint network, which is not as robust as I would like in Western Mass.
  2. My Credo plan was getting expensive, around $100/month and I was brushing up against the top of my 300 text limit.
  3. My phone was feeling very sluggish, and I just wanted something shinier.

So I was reminded that pre-paid plans tend to be much cheaper ($45/mo in this case), and heard that Straight Talk uses a number of different networks. I did the math, and even though I had to pay full cost for the new phone and I had to buy out of my Credo contract, I would break even in eight months, and after that would be saving money (and not bound by contract, either).

However, I have been plagued by some typical but thoroughly frustrating customer service issues:

  1. The website has been slow.
  2. The website has been unclear about what the service is an which network plans are on.
  3. The first customer service rep I called (to activate; I would’ve used the website but understood it to be discouragingly slow) had a thick accent and required me to re-spell all my information multiple times.
  4. My activation took a while, so I checked with the website, which basically told me “hold tight”.
  5. After we’d passed the two business days they said was a maximum for activation, I called back up. After giving my information and repeating my question to several more heavily-accented reps, and conferencing in a Credo rep, it turned out that I had given the wrong Credo account number, and the first rep may have spelled my name wrong as well (not hard, but something that should’ve been caught). The triumphant rep told me it should be all set by 6am the next day, if not before.
  6. It was indeed activated by the following morning, and I happily got to setting up my voicemail. I use Google Voice. The phone didn’t like that. Now, instead of the comfortable and delicate split I had set up, with both work and personal numbers ringing my phone and then going to separate mailboxes if I didn’t pick up, both were going to my personal number, the non-Google-Voice one. I tried a bunch of different settings (having done this before) and none of them worked. I figure out that Google Voice didn’t know what the carrier was, and that might’ve been the problem. So I called customer service again.
  7. The first time I tried, the customer service number wasn’t working. After a little while, it did work.
  8. But the reps had no idea what I was talking about. “So what you’re saying is you want to set up your voicemail box?” “No, that’s working fine; I want to set up Google Voice and need to set up conditional call forwarding. Can we just start with what network I’m on?” To which the rep asked me to call from a different phone so she could verify the model of my new phone, so she could tell me the network. Is it reasonable to expect someone who’s calling about their phone to have an entirely different phone lying around?
  9. Finally she was able to tell me what network I’m on. I’m on the Sprint network. Just like my old phone. Which I was trying to get away from. *facepalm*
  10. I don’t even remember what she told me about Google Voice.

The thing is, I’m sure this is all perfectly ordinary! And yet it caused me such seething frustration this morning! It’s not my calling, but it is seriously low-hanging fruit to make these processes more customer-friendly. This whole experience has destroyed what hopeful trust I had in this new carrier. I doubt that is something they’re trying to do.