Watchdog: Sprint treated customer shabbily

Many Connecticut customers of Boost Mobile, a division of Sprint, love their $55 monthly plan that gives them unlimited use of the phone for talking, texting and the Internet without having to sign a contract.

Elaine Lewandoski of Wolcott is not one of them.

She purchased a Samsung LG Venice phone from a Best Buy store, and after making sure that her home area was included in Boost Mobile's coverage map, she signed up for their service.

"I was really excited," Lewandoski said of her August purchase. "It was my first smart phone."

That excitement evaporated when she got home and discovered that she could not get a signal.

"When I brought the phone home I did not have phone reception and could not make or receive calls; there were no bars showing on the phone, indicating no reception. I went outside and walked around the yard with the phone - same story. I called the tech support of Boost Mobile that evening and talked first to Rob in the Philippines who was unable to get the phone to work despite assuring me that I indeed should have coverage based on the map," she said, adding that she even took the phone apart as she had been instructed.

The next day she was visiting a friend's home in Southington and found that her phone worked just fine there.

Then she and her friend, who also has Boost Mobile service, went to Lewandoski's house and neither phone worked. She immediately took her phone back to Best Buy where they gave her a refund.

"They were just wonderful at Best Buy," she said.

However, when she contacted Boost Mobile, the company refused to refund the $55 payment she had made, insisting that there was something wrong with her phone, not with their coverage.

It was at that point that Lewandoski contacted CtWatchdog for assistance. I told her the first thing she needed to do was to dispute the charge with Discover, whose credit card she used to pay for the first month's service. Next I suggested that she file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and I told her I would contact Sprint.

Sprint did not respond to my inquiry, but one of its officials did respond to the BBB complaint.

"We are pleased to inform you that Ms. Lewandoski's issue has been addressed," wrote Cynthia Cooper, an executive services analyst, to the BBB.

And how was it addressed?

Refund denied.

"We spoke with Ms. Lewandoski on September 24, 2013. We explained that as her service address is within coverage, in accordance with our Terms and Conditions of service, we are unable to refund charges for unused portions of service. Therefore, we must respectfully deny her request," Cooper wrote to the BBB.

Challenging the bill with Discover was not helpful either.

Discover put a hold on the charge for a month and then released it after Sprint insisted that the charge was legitimate.

That is a pretty shabby way for Sprint to treat a consumer.

george@ctwatchdog.com; www.ctwatchdog.com

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