Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Learning the Power of Social Media

It started with an email, continued on the phone, and then moved to social media, but ultimately it was a tale of communication.

Sometimes learning comes from experiences that we never believe are going to bring us new knowledge.  Monday I received an email at 3:05 AM (I did not actually see it until 5:30 AM) informing me that our data plan was about to go over, we were .5 GB under our limit.  I immediately texted my family at home and told them to not use any data.

This was a new experience for me, as we had previously had unlimited data. In July in an attempt to lower our bill I chose a plan with a limited supply of data and after reviewing our historical data us, I chose one that was basically double our average use for the past year to insure that I would not get emails like this.   The problem came when I looked online at our usage data. While it showed we were almost maxed out, when I added the individual totals we had used 1/2 our allotment.  This lead me to call Sprint Customer Service, to find out what was wrong.  The individual I spoke to was not able to tell me why there was a discrepancy, but that he would put in a ticket and get back to me with the results.

The next email I received told me that we were now over our limit, by .5 GB.  and then after school we were over by 1 GB.  I called Sprint, after seeing that my daughters usage had doubled in a few hours, with no notification as to what the earlier problem had been.  I quickly called Sprint and spoke to another customer service person, who said they would remove the overages from the bill and then was going to work with me to expand our plan to the next highest level, which was about $15 more at the time I considered my switch, but at $15 per GB over it was worth it.  Unfortunately, before I could finish this, I had to end the call, while I was on hold, to go into a meeting at the courthouse.

When I got home I received a 4th email saying that we were know 1.5 GB over and owed an additional $22.  I quickly called Sprint again, to find out how it was still going up when no-one was using data and to find out why it was spiking so suddenly today.  This is when my waiting and frustration began.

I was on hold for roughly 15 minutes and then when the call was answered, the person on the line could not explain to me what was happening, would not remove any charges, and when I asked about a new plan she said all I could sign up for was a plan that would triple my data limit, and cost $10 less than when I had unlimited data.  When I asked about the next highest plan that I had almost signe dup for, she said that plan was no longer available.  It was at this point that my frustration boiled over to anger and I asked to speak to her supervisor.  She said she would get him and I was put back on hold.  After 20-25 minutes she returned to say that she was looking for her supervisor still and asked me to wait.  After another roughly 30 minutes, at which point the thought crossed my mind that this was a delaying tactic to get me to merely hang up in the hope that I would not call back, she returned and said that she still could not find a supervisor and would I wait.  I responded that no I would not, that I wanted to speak to a supervisor now and that I was considering leaving Sprint.  She said she could not get the supervisor right then, but she would take my number and have him call me.

I gave her my number, and hung up on what was a 1 hour and 18 minute call, in which I spent the majority of time on hold.  Thank goodness for speakerphones.  After 20 minutes I still had not received a call from a supervisor.  At this point I got online and began looking at Verizon.  Then I remembered that the new Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure was very active on Twitter, so I took a shot that he might see a tweet, never expecting the response that I received.  At this point, I will let the tweets to the talking:

After mutually following Marci Carris, Sprint's Senior VP of Customer Management, and Googling her to make sure that this was a Sprint employee, I sent her my information.  Within 10 minutes I received a call from Timvre with Sprint who listened to my story with as much empathy as can be conveyed on the phone, took down my information, and said she would look into the data issue and get back to me.  She then gave me a direct number to her and told me her working hours and the days she worked.  While I was on the phone with Timvre, I received a call from another 800 number.  When I played the message, after being called twice, I found out it was another Sprint employee named George from their corporate office in Colorado. 

I called George and he again listened to my problem with empathy.  Looked into the data usage issue with me on the line, remarking how their must be something wrong because my daughter's phone was using huge chunks of data early in the morning when she would be at home and on wifi, and said that he would erase the overages on my bill and work towards getting me the plan I had asked for a month ago that was no longer available at close to my current price.  He also gave me a direct number and said he would call back when he had information.  This lead to this missing word tweet.

I then received a call back from George in which he said that he could double my current plan for $10 more a month.  I took this deal, and will remain with Sprint for the foreseeable future, as they were able to turn a negative into a positive.  The reality is, Timvre and George communicated so well that even without the deal, I was prepared to stop looking and stay with them for awhile.  The deal, which was all I had asked for earlier, ended all thoughts of leaving.

It was when I was able to relax and reflect that I was able to think of the all the learning this night had brought to me.

  1. You need to advocate for yourself and your issues, not simply say they are a big company and they won't care about my issue or help me.  Sometimes in school, or life, we believe that our problems are insurmountable, or that the teacher or administrator we are talking to is too busy to care with our minor issues, so we accept less than what we deserve because we are afraid to ask or that they might say no.  Even if they say no, you have not lost anything as you are still were you just were.
  2. Sometimes you need to keep going until you find the right person to help you.  Just because the first person that you talk to can't, or won't help you, that doesn't mean that you should just give up.  Maybe another teacher can explain what you need to learn a different way.  Don't stop at the first no, keep seeking the assistance you need. 
  3. People respond to social media, even if you think there is no way they will.  In this case the CEO helped me to solve a problem, but think of all the experts that the internet can connect us with.  How much knowledge or help in learning we might be able to access.  The list is endless, and the possibilities infinite. 
  4. Communication is more than simply listening and responding to someone, more than even how we respond.  While I am happy with the outcome of this situation, it all would have been avoided if the 1st customer service representative had emailed me back to let me know what the problem with the data was, prior to the company changing the totals on my daughter's account.  This made me feel as if they were cheating me.  It didn't help that the usage of my family, despite no major changes in where or how they were using their phones, had more than doubled since I switched plans.  This ambiguity, and the unclear way in which data was explained on the website, made me feel as if the game was rigged against me. That my good deal, was not really a good deal. I quickly began to distrust Sprint and their accounting.  An email response to me, telling me what they had found and why the data usage was so high, would have likely lead me to accept the explanation and move on. How often do we give students vague answers as to why a policy is the way it is, or a decision had been made about a grade, without truly hearing their concerns and addressing the simplest of requests-please explain to me and help me.
  5. Correcting the problem, even after angering the person, goes a long way towards repairing relationships and beginning to rebuild trust.  I am not a big customer, Sprint could have easily let me walk away from their company.  Even if I complained, it is not like I have thousands, or even 1 thousand, Twitter followers or Facebook friends.  They made this right not because they were going to lose money, or look bad on Twitter, but because they valued the relationship.
Things I learned by visiting classes this week:

  • You can make a hologram viewer from an old CD case.  This one you need to see, so go ask Mr. Scheiber to see it.  Then after he shows you the first model, look at the giant one his students crafted to use with a tablet computer.  The great part is not the device, but the excitement I got to see in Mr. Schieber and his students as they worked on it.
  • The robotic arm that takes socks off the sock form is called a stripper.
  • Extension lines are used with dimension lines on a drawing to show you how big the part is.  They also do not touch the part, to avoid confusion.
  • When you let students hold a jam session in the hallway, where they have to create music on the fly, you get some amazing sounds.
Things students told me they learned this week:

  • How to create a's a long story.
  • The months in Spanish August is Agusto.
  • Learning about racism and reading articles about it.  I really like it because when I got to the US that affected me a lot and I have learned to stand up to it.
  • I learned that I am pretty good at math based on my PSAT/SAT work.
Things I read this week that impacted my learning:

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