Still Not Done With Sprint

It’s been a few months since I’ve written about the long distance debacle I suffered at the hands of Sprint and GTC Telecom. My complaints to the FCC had fallen on deaf ears. No response.

A few weeks ago I decided to give it another try.

Months ago I had filed a complaint against Sprint over their long distance practices. Since that time I have heard nothing more. Can you tell me the status of my complaint, please?

They replied.

Good morning Mr. Fox

Your complaint was referred to Public Utilities Commission of Connecticut on 12/28/04. Connecticut handles their own slamming complaints in the State of CT. The FCC does handles slamming complaints for certain states. You can contact the PUC of Connecticut at:

1-800 382-4586


Thank you.

No! My complaint had to do with Sprint’s actions once they found out this was a mistake, not the slamming itself, which I believe was a series of unintentional human errors.

I followed with this.

My complaint concerned the bad faith actions of Sprint after they knew I had not actually signed for their service, not the specifics of the slamming. As such, this is an FCC concern, not one for my state.

It is possible you have confused separate filings I made – the first one which was referred to my state and did concern slamming. Unfortunately, I do not have each individual letter I sent to the FCC in front of me. However, the complaint I am asking you to look at concerns Sprint’s objectionable actions was accompanied by full documentation, including copies of correspondence and bills.

I respectfully request you revisit this, since during Sprint’s actions they relied on their interpretation of FCC rules to allow them to act in bad faith.


Geoff Fox

Again, they misread… or didn’t read my letter, because I got back.

Dear Consumer,

The only complaint that the Federal Communications Commission has on file from you is your slamming complaint, received December 24, 2004, assigned file number 04-S88892, which was referred to the Connecticut Department of Utility Control for processing on December 28, 2004.

If you continue to have a complaint against Sprint, other than that mentioned above, you will need to re-file it with us.

For information on what your rights are and how to file a complaint with us, visit our web site

I couldn’t believe it. Maybe I was going nuts. The concept didn’t seem so difficult for the FCC which deals with phone companies all the time. I gave it one last try.

I want to make sure we’re on the same page. Here is the letter I am referring to. Is this what you consider a slamming complaint? My complaint has nothing to do with the switching of carriers, but Sprint’s actions after they knew this error was not caused by me.

This is important, because Sprint felt your rules gave them the ability to charge me for these calls even after they knew it was not my doing. Further, when the State of Connecticut did not act quickly in responding to my complaint, your rules allowed Sprint to act as if I didn’t make a complaint at all!

Will you please read my letter and let me know.

Geoff Fox

I attached the long descriptive letter I had sent months ago (and was published here)

It wasn’t long before I got a reply.

Good Afternoon, Mr. Fox;

Your complaint listing your concerns regarding Sprint’s practices has been forwarded to me. I will be discussing them with one of our staff attorney’s to see if the Commission could take further actions in regards to these complaints to ensure that any consumer found in the same predicament is treated fairly.

I will keep you abreast of any develops or decisions that are made.

Best Regards,

(name withheld)

Consumer Mediation & Policy Specialist

Policy Division

Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau

Wow! Exactly what I wanted to hear.

This is no assurance that action will be taken. Sprint is big enough to make systemic change difficult at best. But maybe I will be heard. What was done to me was probably done to others as well. That’s what should perk up the FCC’s ears.

When a company tries as hard as Sprint does to isolate the public from managers and officers who are authorized to make decisions or take action, it’s worth being persistent. At least to me it is.

There will be follow-ups

Blogger’s note: Early on, this thread became a ‘category’ on the blog, meaning you can read it all in real chronological order by clicking here.

The Sprint Saga Finally Ends – I Think

I think my long distance problems are now solved. If you haven’t been following, you can read all the details here. Good lord, dental work is less painful!

On Friday I spoke with representatives of the Connecticut DPUC and Sprint. Though the DPUC had dropped the ball, and admitted so to me, I think Sprint’s actions are more troubling.

I have decided to follow up with a complaint to the FCC, which is detailed in a letter linked just below this entry.

Continue reading “The Sprint Saga Finally Ends – I Think”

Is Enya Gonya?

My long distance phone tsuris took on an additional wrinkle when I got a note from Sprint… welcoming me as a long distance customer! Hello? I never called Sprint or asked to be changed.

I called Sprint. All they knew was I was being charged $.40 per minute and owed around $40! Oh – they couldn’t help me unravel this… but if I changed to them they’d pro-rate me to $.05 per minute (I’m paying under $.03). I’d have to commit for 90 days. Isn’t that extortion?

It was getting ridiculous. Call after call after call to GTC Telecom went unanswered. I have spent at least 4 hours, maybe more, on hold to them. I have heard more Enya music on hold than any human should be subjected to.

Lucky they get a good rate on their 800 number.

I decided to give it one more try at 3:00 AM EDT. I figured it was too late for Easterners to call… and getting late for most of the West Coast. It paid off. Within ten minutes I was on the phone to India and speaking with Andrea.

As with Keith the last time, Andrea is probably not her real name. For some reason these outsourcing companies feel we’ll be reassured if at least the name rings American… even if the accent and speech patterns don’t.

Andrea was wonderful She was calm, polite, seemingly concerned. She was the Stepford wife of customer service agents.

I want to complain about her, about my interminable wait, about the Enya music on hold… but she was totally disarming. And, she said she’d take care of everything.

I’ll report back. I’m not shy.

Back on Hold With GTC

I still haven’t gotten this long distance thing straightened out. I think Sprint is currently my carrier of record. Who knows what I’m paying for long distance?

Tonight is the fourth or fifth time I have tried to reach GTC. I’m on hold again! We’re at 35 minutes on the timer.

Here’s what I’ve learned since the last time I posted this. I am not alone! Someone from California (I think) posted a comment saying that had gone through the same thing. It’s good to have company, I suppose.

I have also found out, courtesy of Phil our engineering supervisor who has walked by, that the music on hold is by Enya.

Enya – if you’re reading this, as nice as you must be, there’s only so much of your music I can take. I have passed that point.

Blogger’s note: Hung up this time at one hour 13 minutes. Great.

Never Ending Long Distance Saga

Remember my long distance problems? My service was broken, then fixed and now… now I’m in a real pickle. How could things deteriorate so quickly, so totally? And yet they have.

I have plenty of time to tell you the story because I am on hold, again, waiting for the next available agent at GTC Telecom. My call is important – though not important enough to hire people to answer all the calls.

Recapping, a few weeks back I lost all in-state long distance service. A call to GTC told me how to fix that by calling my local phone company and whispering the magic letters. It worked OK, just not in the direction I wanted. I lost ALL long distance service, in and out-of-state.

Another call to GTC instructed me what to tell my local phone company to really fix the problem. I had long distance service again. I was a happy camper.

Then, this week came the letter from Sprint welcoming me as a customer! Uh oh. Who signed me up with Sprint?

Sprint, as it turns out, is the underlying carrier for GTC. I don’t claim to be a telecom genius but I think GTC buys in bulk and resells to folks like me. My calls go through Sprint but are billed by GTC.

For the past three days I have attempted to get in touch with GTC. The first time I got an announcement telling me not to even bother holding on and got summarily disconnected. The next time I did get connected but ran out of time before I reached a human. I waited until later that night, between newscasts when I’d have some free time. By the time I finally gave up the phone’s timer said I’d been waiting 61 minutes.

Right now I am on hold again. The readout shows 19 minutes.

Thankfully, at work I have a speakerphone. This makes the wait nearly acceptable. I can do other things, like write in the blog.

While waiting the last time I looked at GTC’s website.

Additionally, some customers who have line (PIC) restrictions established with their local service providers were not successfully switched to our new network. As a result, they may now be out of service for their toll calls. Our customer response team has attempted to reach these customers in order to lift the PIC restrictions on their lines and provision them to our new network. If you are out of service for your toll calls, Please contact us directly. Contacting your local service provider may result in your being placed on what is known as the open network, with toll calls being billed by a third party at traditionally high rates. GTC Telecom will be unable to help you with a third party bill.

Hold on! That’s what they told me to do… and what I did.

The same few songs keep repeating on GTC’s hold system. It’s some new age psychological torture.

Twenty six minutes now and smoke is pouring from my ears.

Long Distance – My Short Story

Helaine went to place a call to Hartford a few minutes ago. Instead of connecting, she heard a message saying our number had been disconnected. You read right – not the number we were calling – our number had been disconnected!

I tried by placing a call to my cell phone. No problem. Then I called my folks in Florida. Again, without problem. So I called the area code 860 number Helaine had tried and sure enough, there was the announcement.

It didn’t take me long to realize intrastate and interstate long distance are treated differently and maybe there was a screw up with ours. Between cell phones and Steffie’s VOIP&#185 service, and our really large local calling area, we hardly ever call long distance in the state.

Our long distance service has been handled for years by GTC Telecommunications. Who knows who they are? I had never heard of them. But for years we had been getting our long distance for 4.9&#162, painlessly.

Then, one day while looking at their website I noticed they were advertising long distance for 2.9&#162 per minute. I called, asked to be switched, and I assume the problem started then.

After waiting on hold for about 5-10 minutes Keith answered. I asked at the end of the call, but guessed from his first words, that Keith was in India. Though he was able to take care of the problem, and he did speak English perfectly, there were communications problems because he doesn’t speak American English.

There are phrases and ironic statements that we all use all the time which were… well, they were foreign to Keith.

At the end of the conversation he told me I’d have to call my local phone company and tell them I needed my intrastate carrier changed to ‘pic code 0333.’

No sweat.

I picked up the phone and called SBC, my ‘local’ phone company. I have accented ‘local’ because, until recently, we had our own lovely, local, responsive phone company – SNET.

SNET was the classic non-Bell local phone company, covering the vast majority of Connecticut. A few years ago, in a deal that richly rewarded their top management, SNET was sold to SBC. My phone still works, but now I’m a little jerkwater customer far away from SBC’s Texas home office. Before Connecticut was SNET’s only business.

SNET was sold, we were told, because they couldn’t compete in this increasingly complex world of telecommunications. Now, if business is bad somewhere else in SBC’s system, our bill goes up here.

After working through the voice mail tree (some options have recently changed – right) a pleasant woman with a Texas accent picked up the phone. I assume that used to be a Connecticut job. I explained my problem and read her the pic code – 0333.

“We use codes with letters” she responded.

Luckily, the carrier for my intrastate service was the same as the working carrier for my interstate service. She says it will be fixed before the close of business today. There was a $2.60 charge for switching, but considering someone dropped the ball in this mess, she waived the fee.

She couldn’t have been nicer… even though she tried to upsell me some services before I could hang up.

The sad part is, years ago this was a big deal. Long distance was a much larger line item. Now, with cell phones and Steffie’s VOIP service, we make many fewer long distance calls with our wired phones. Most months we’re under $20 – closer to $10, for long distance.

There are people at work who don’t have wired phones at all. Maybe someday soon, we’ll join them.

&#185 – VOIP is Voice Over Internet Protocol. Instead of having a real connection between two phones having a conversation, the phone call is digitized and sent as packets through the Internet or other data network. It is much cheaper to provide that standard phone circuits (called POTS for Plain Old Telephone Service). Steffie’s phone has unlimited calling in Connecticut for $10 a month – with voice mail, caller ID and anything else you could imagine in a phone. It is why GTC can afford to route customer service calls to India and what SBC’s executives have nightmares about every night.