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The Best (and Worst) Phone Carrier Customer Support

Sprint

While Sprint looks to improve its network to match the other major U.S. carriers, its best bet for winning over the hearts and minds of customers is to offer compelling prices and superior customer service. Sprint’s low-priced unlimited data plan takes care of the former, while a clearly organized online support site and courteous staff look to address the latter.

Unfortunately, courtesy can only take you so far. While every one of my interactions with Sprint staff members was pleasant enough, too often the answers to my tech support questions were either incomplete or inaccurate. Here’s what I found when I tested out Sprint’s online, social media and phone support. Philip Michaels

Online Support

Sprint’s online support is clearly the star attraction of its tech support offerings, with easy-to-find information that benefits from sensible organization. Jump to the Sprint support web page, and you’ll see topics broken down into four categories: Account and Billing; Connectivity, International and Device. Each section does what it says on the label.

When I clicked on Device, for example, I could see a list of supported devices that Sprint organizes by manufacturer, from A (Alcatel) to Z (ZTE). Since that’s a lot of scrolling, I could also type in the name of my device (a Galaxy S7) into a search bar. That produced a list of links, but the top link was the main device page, offering tutorials, user guides and FAQs.

If you’ve got a specific question — finding out how to manage the S7’s always-on display, for example — you’ll wind up doing a lot of hunting and pecking to drill down through those materials. In that case, I’d suggest using the search bar again; a search for "galaxy s7 always-on display" took me right to the article I needed.

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Checking something like usage is a simple matter of clicking the Account/Billing option on the main support page and selecting one of Sprint’s self-service tools. You’ll need to do a little bit of scrolling, but you’ll immediately find step-by-step instructions for looking up how much data you’ve used via the website and on your phone itself. All told, Sprint does a pretty good job of leading you to what you want to find.

Sprint offers a chat option, available 24/7, according to its support page, though the speed with which your query gets answered depends on just how many people are using the service. I had to wait about 4 minutes before a chat operator answered my question about signing up for Amazon Prime through a Sprint promotion, and it took another 6 minutes to get an answer to my question. Still, the provided answer from Angie was detailed and accurate, which was not necessarily an experience I had during the rest of my customer service testing.

Social Media Support

Sprint’s Twitter and Facebook sites are decent places to seek out answers to troubleshooting questions. You can expect prompt, if not necessarily immediate, responses. I just wish the responses were more accurate.

Take my encounter with Sprint on Twitter, where I posted a question to the @SprintCare technical support line. The SprintCare promises 24/7 availability, and when I posted a question about checking my data usage at 2:51 p.m. EDT, I got a response back in 2 minutes, suggesting we take my query to direct message. Twenty-five minutes after reposting my question as a DM, Sprint followed up by asking me the make and model of my phone. That seemed an unnecessary level of detail, as Sprint’s follow-up response — a half-hour after I mentioned my Galaxy S7 — was a device-independent walk-through on registering at Sprint.com and using that site to check on data.

So far, so good! So I tossed a softball at the Sprint tech support crew: Was there a way I could maybe check my data usage on my phone? The response came back 37 minutes later: No, unless I wanted to use my phone to log into Sprint.com. This is nonsense, of course. The Galaxy S7 ships with a Sprint Zone app, and the very first thing you see when you open that app is your data usage. Failing to mention that seems like a pretty big swing and miss by Sprint.

MORE: Compare Sprint Phone Plans to Other Carriers

My Facebook experience went much more smoothly. I posted to Sprint’s main Facebook page to get the scoop on the company’s Amazon Prime tie-in. A response came back 9 minutes later explaining that all Sprint customers were eligible to sign up for Amazon Prime through the carrier if they had a smartphone; there was also a handy link to a page with more information. I would have liked a more personalized response that would have walked me through the sign-up process, and Sprint never actually answered how much Amazon Prime would cost me, but it was a solid if unspectacular answer to my question.

Phone Support

My experience with Sprint’s phone support mirrored my social media tests: Sprint’s tech support staff was speedy, polite — and, on far too many occasions — wrong. (You can reach Sprint by phone from 7 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. EDT on weekdays; on weekends, those hours shrink to 10 a.m. to midnight.)

When you call Sprint’s tech support line, you’ll be greeted by a preamble directing you either to the Sprint Zone app — see, Sprint’s Twitter account does exist — or to Sprint’s website for tech support help. If you really do want the calming influence of another human voice, you’ll have to wade through a couple of different menus to reach tech support. All told, it takes roughly 2 minutes to negotiate through the menus before you’re handed off to a human being.

Average Call Time: 5 minutes, 40 seconds

At least, you won’t have to wait very long, as I never had to wait more than a few rings before a Sprint tech support staffer fielded my call. I placed the first call just before 2 p.m. EDT on a weekday, navigating my way through the various phone menus to reach Scott so that he could tell me how to set up the always-on display on my Galaxy S7. After asking for an alternative call-back number — a great touch just in case we got disconnected — Scott showed me how to find the Display menu in Settings to turn the feature on and off.

My follow-up question on customizing the screen seemed to fluster him, though: He suggested I try the Lock Screen menu. (You can actually customize it from the always-on settings within the Display menu.) The call took a brisk 5 minutes, even if the answer wasn’t entirely satisfactory.

MORE: How Sprint's 4G Performance Stacks Up

I made my second call later that afternoon at around 4:30 p.m., where Jackie tried to field questions about Sprint’s Amazon Prime tie-in. Jackie started by saying that the promotion did exist at one time, but may have ended (it hadn’t); she offered to put me on hold and check, though. After 4 minutes of silence, Jackie returned to confirm that Sprint still had an Amazon Prime promotion, but it was only available to new customers or existing users upgrading their phone (it’s available to everyone). She told me it was an annual membership (Sprint subscribers can actually become month-to-month members, which is the offer’s biggest appeal), though she did get the monthly cost of $10.99 correct. Even with the lengthy time on hold, my call only took 7 minutes.

My final call, placed on a weekend at 4:25 p.m. EDT, proved the most fruitful, if a bit perfunctory. Cleveland fielded my call on checking my data and told me all about the Sprint Zone app on my phone, and how data usage is one of the first things I’d see upon launching. I had to prompt him to tell me about website resources, but he walked me through that, too. All told, Cleveland took care of my question in a lightning-quick 4-and-a-half minutes, and that’s with the phone tree time factored in.

Bottom Line

There’s a lot to appreciate about Sprint’s support, particularly if you use the carrier’s website to tackle most of your questions. Adding the human element to the mix can be hit-or-miss, though: Sprint’s reps could stand to be a little better-informed about what services and features their employer offers.