Posts [RANT] I'm in wireless phone hell (aka When automated systems fail the end user.)!

[RANT] I'm in wireless phone hell (aka When automated systems fail the end user.)!

OK, first off my phone apparently slipped out of it's holster while watching a movie on Sunday afternoon and disappeared in that process.  Got the phone suspended so now there's someone wandering around it with a 4 year old phone that is severely scratched from being carried around for that many years.  I guess if they have a use for it, so be it.

Anyway, so I call two different Sprint stores at 20 till closing and neither one of them would answer their phones... OK, fine... I understand that to a point (well, not really, but anyway, to continue on... let's say I do ;-) ).  So I show up at their store at 9:45 the next morning to buy me a nice shiny new phone.  They didn't open till 10:00... so I started waiting.  Two people showed up shortly after I got there and they didn't seem to happy to see someone waiting to open the store (it would have been nice if they would have said come on in and look around while we open, but that didn't happen).

So, they finally open the store... I start looking at the phones and ask a couple of questions:

Do you have any SmartPhones (you know, with a Microsoft operating system) similar to the Motorola MPx200?

No... OK, do you have any phones that have BlueTooth ability?

No... OK, the what phones do you have that I can connect to my PC in some way to sync my contacts with Outlook?


Now wait a minute... that's a feature that I had on my original phone... it appears that everyone of their 'new and improved' phones have removed that feature.

Given that I was looking at paying $250 plus for a new phone... and not going to get one that had *any* of the features I was looking for... looking out the window directly across the street was AT&T Wireless.  Hmm... they have the Motorola MPx200 phone.  Fine... I guess it's time for me to switch providers.

Across the road I went... Waited over two hours for them to enter into their web-based order entry system my information so I could walk out of their store with a nice new toy to play with.  I'm all happy and excited that I can finally have a device that would serve as a PDA and Phone that wasn't the size of my hip.  And... it was Microsoft based!!!! I can write software for it!

I go home for a late lunch to find out that the GSM service for some reason doesn't work.  Apparently I'm in a dead spot.  Next door... it works... but at my house... no signal :-(

Crap... guess I have to take it back.

I take the phone back and wait on hold for 30 minutes or so with AT&T (at their store) to get them to cancel the phone transfer.  After waiting, decided to go across the street to pick out a phone that I could settle on (Sprint uses CDMA, which does work at my house).  Told that they can't sell me a phone until the transfer was canceled.  So back across the street I went.

Well, the transfer already went through... wow... pretty fast.  That's what having a good system in place gets you.  You put something into the system and the whole process completes in a timely and reliable manner.

OK, back across the street to Sprint.  They tell me they are going to have to create a new account just so I can get my phone number back over to them.  In order to do that, they have to sign me up for another service plan (with a 1 year commitment).  Fine.  They have the service that works at my house, so not a lot of choice at this point.  OK, so the new plan sort of saves me $3 per month but I lose the first incoming minute free.  Since they gave me an additional 165 anytime minutes, that shouldn't be a problem.  They tell me my phone should be activated around 8pm that night.

8pm rolls around... not working....

10pm rolls around... not working...

Fine, I'll wait till tomorrow.

8am... guess what?... still not working.

I call Sprint using *2... which works... so I know the phone is working and the signal is good.  They tell me it could take 5-8 business days for the transfer to finish!?!?!?  What... are they still using carbon copy forms passed around in interoffice memorandums?  5-8 days... who the hell are they kidding.  There's obviously something wrong with either the data entry or their systems processing.   They tell me they've resent the transfer request... it will take 4-6 hours.

5pm... still not working... call them again.  Again, using *2, this time, they want to reprogram the phone... can't be done while talking on the phone... so they setup a call back to occur (I tried to get them to call me back immediately on another line sitting right next to me, but that was not part of their standard process, so it had to be passed off to someone else so they could call me instead... even though this guy had all the information needed to do this.).

Well, last night was the Fort Worth .NET Users group meeting... so they seemed to time it just right to call while I was gone.  So when I got home (yes the phone is still not working at this point), I call them and we go through the process of reprogramming the phone.  First step, entering in the phone number... next step, entering in the MSID number.  The numbers they had me enter were the numbers already in the phone???? So what exactly is it that I'm doing to “reprogram the phone”?

OK, at this point, it should take... guess what... 2-4 hours and it should start working.  That was at about 10pm.

1am... still not working... fine, I'll give it the night.

8am... you guessed it... still not working... at this point, I'm just completely frustrated that in the computer environment that we exist in today that this sort of process would take anywhere near this long to occur.  So, fine... leaving the phone home and check on it when I get home.

6pm... still not working.  Call them... explain to them how this is just plain idiotic that I should have to keep calling them.  He looks in some other system and notices that there's a flag that is showing the account not activated, but in the billing system the account is fully activated and showing as completed.  Looks in the notes on the account and several requests have gone through asking the account to be reset, reinitialized, etc.  So, I kindly explain that this is ridiculous and I'm at the point where I no longer want to have to keep checking to see if it's working.  I want whatever needs to be done to get done and for someone to call me on the (currently, not activated) phone to tell me it's done.  He tells me that it could take 24-48 hours for the full reset to occur.  No... I no longer want the ball to be handed off to someone else... I want him to talk to his supervisor and his supervisor contact their tech department (which has no contact to the outside world).  Then their tech department do whatever is necessary to get this working and have someone call me on that phone.  Since their computer systems are obviously flawed in some very large manner, do the thing manually!  I've payed my money... give me my product!

So, for anyone trying to call me on my cell, now you know why you are getting:

“The number or code you've dialed is incorrect.  Please check the number or code and try again.  Message 613 7.”

At this point I keep wondering... why hasn't someone made a device that you can use at your how to boost the wireless signal (GSM specifically), acting as a bridge between your wireless and the wireless towers?  I can't imagine it would be too difficult since basically those devices exist today and are used in the downtown areas in every city.  That way I could be using my shiny new SmartPhone and not having to go through all of this crap.

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