The Mobile Provider Holy Wars

Ford vs Chevy. Mac vs PC. Coke vs Pepsi. All classic examples of product battles that have somehow turn into holy wars by the people that feel very passionate about their product. I’ll admit I’ve been in some of these battles as I’ve extolled the virtues of one platform over another. However, just recently I somehow got involved in the next holy war…that of the mobile carriers.

Rewind to yesterday. We were walking around taking care of business. Pick up some energy bars for our training rides here, get a new shirt for soccer there, might as well pop into the Sprint store and see if I can weasel any info on the Palm Pre out of them (nope…either they were clueless or they played clueless very well). My partner in crime was there with me…a Verizon user. She was spending roughly $150/month for the unlimited voice plan and whatever else she had going on with her Blackberry. We all know I’m a Sprint lover and user so I told her to check out the cost savings. $99 for the Simply Everything plan which gives her unlimited data, voice, and texts to use with her Blackberry. Plus a $100 rebate. And then another $100 credited to her account for porting over from another company. Thus, she actually got paid to make the switch (then again Verizon charged her to cancel her plan with them). The customer service? Amazing. Our guy was super helpful with everything, explained everything, set up her new phone in the store, activated it, set up her email account…just very very helpful to get her up and running with no fuss, no muss. After she was up and running she posted to Facebook (from her new Blackberry of course) that she is now saving nearly $500 a year from switching over to Sprint from Verizon.

And then it began.
The following are all comments to her post:

  • Ranter A – Good luck w/ all of those dropped calls. Sprint blows!
  • Ranter B – Sprint bites. <Ranter A> is so right. Dropped calls here they come. I just saved a ton of money on my car insurance.
  • NEW CUSTOMER – Well been using it all day with no dropped calls so we shall see – good thing they offer a 30 day trial period
  • Ranter C – watch out for Sprint. They overcharged me while under contract and customer no-service is the worst!
  • ME – I don’t know when all you haters were with Sprint but I’m loving it. I place calls while my AT&T and Verizon friends are complaining about no service. The network is a hell of a lot faster (I even tether my phone to my laptop and use it as a modem…I can stream music and video…it’s that fast). Customer service kicks butt (it was one of Dan Hesse’s…the new CEO…priorities). The reason I don’t have an iPhone (oh trust me I want one) is because I can’t fathom leaving Sprint (great service and awesome price) for AT&T (crappy service and overpriced).
  • Ranter C – There are a lot of us out there. Sprint has the lowest customer retention rate in the industry.
  • Ranter D – we no longer can talk for free. Don’t text me anymore.
  • Supporter A – I would LOVE to be back with Sprint, so much cheaper. But me and <person> need to be on the same network and he needs the Verizon “network”
  • NEW CUSTOMER – Ok will call landline then from now on!
  • Supporter B – I use to work for Sprint. They were pretty bad then but I hear they are getting better. They had to cut prices because they were doing so poorly.
  • NEW CUSTOMER – Yah apparently got a new CEO who is really trying to turn things around. Figure I will give it a shot.
  • Supporter A – Hey, <New Customer>, just so ya know…I NEVER had any problems with Sprint. Only when I was up in the mountains and I have some probs with Verizon there too!
  • NEW CUSTOMER – Cool thanks <Supporter A>! As I said for almost $40/month savings I will try anything – so far so good!
  • Ranter E – I had a TON of dropped calls with them too. I have AT&T now and it happens rarely. I also HATED their customer no-service… Good luck.
  • ME – Just to clarify…I had Sprint many years ago. Left them for Verizon because of dropped calls. After a few years of Verizon raping me (and disabling features on their phones so they could charge me more) I dropped them and back to Sprint almost two years ago. Never looked back. My service is better, cheaper, faster. Customer service rocks. So…if you haven’t been with Sprint for a while, I hear ya…but it’s an age old debate. Might as well compare a ’77 Tercel to an ’05 Accord. Work with CURRENT models and services.

I feel like I’m back in the mix of the Mac vs PC wars that I’ve been involved in. You get tired of hearing the same old arguments even though they aren’t valid anymore. Sure, at one point A that this feature and B didn’t. B was more reliable. B was more expensive. Blah blah blah. Half a decade later though things can be fixed. Often times they ARE fixed.

It’s just interesting to see. Being a tech, mobile, and business watcher I keep tabs on what’s going on. Sprint botched their merger with Nextel. Their service suffered because of that and their customer service sucked. Customers were defecting in droves. It was quite frankly a scary place to be. Props to Dan Hesse for coming in and doing what he’s done already. The guy has nads of steel for coming aboard a sinking ship and attempting to make things right. It’s not going to be an overnight transformation but from what I’ve seen so far he’s doing a damn good job.

Ultimately it all breaks down to what makes people happy but I think people fall into their comfort zones and don’t bother to see what new thing is out there, or to see if the old thing has been fixed. It’s this kind of behavior that holds people back (I’m speaking in a general sense now).

I’m looking forward to seeing how this all plays out. My new customer friend has already noticed a faster network while surfing the web on her Blackberry. Let a few more weeks go by and we’ll see if she has all these dropped calls that everyone is ranting about (I sure don’t see them with my Sprint service).

Now to wait for Sprint or Palm to send me the Palm Pre. I’ve been signing up for every drawing I can find. It’s hard to evaluate new hardware when you don’t have it. D’oh!