Default judgment against Sprint in small-claims court

By | August 22, 2007

My small-claims court hearing with Sprint Nextel for the shafting I previously described was today. Sprint didn’t show up, and the clerk magistrate entered a default judgment in my favor. She said she was going to review the details of the complaint, which I provided to her in writing, and my other evidence, of which I provided copies, to arrive at a final settlement amount, about which I would be notified by mail. She seemed pretty convinced about my triple-damages claim, but only time will tell.

For the record, here’s the complaint details which I provided to her:


Trial Court of Massachusetts
Small Claims Session
Brighton District Court
Docket Number XXX
Trial Date: August 22, 2007

Summary of Plaintiff’s Case

1) Plaintiff ordered cellular phone and service through Sprint Web site January 30, 2007.

2) Plaintiff decided after ordering phone, but before it arrived, that Sprint phone and service were no longer desired.

3) Defendant has “30-Day Risk-Free Guarantee” promising full refund for service canceled within 30 days of initiation. (evidence: copy of policy from defendant’s Web site)

4) Plaintiff called Sprint to ask how to cancel order, and was told to refuse delivery of package from UPS, after which package would be returned to Sprint and full refund would be issued.

5) Plaintiff refused package February 5. Package was returned to Sprint February 7. (evidence: tracking information from UPS Web site)

6) Over six months later, defendant still has not refunded cost of phone, $262.49, to defendant.

7) Defendant sent plaintiff letter asking for plaintiff to call defendant about service cancelation. Purpose of this call was only to give defendant opportunity to try to convince plaintiff not to cancel service (defendant’s agent referred to this letter as “retention letter” in subsequent phone conversation). Plaintiff sent back letter with notation demanding that account be canceled and refund issued without wasting any more of plaintiff’s time.

8) Defendant sent plaintiff four bills. Plaintiff sent back first two bills with notation demanding that account be closed and refund issued. Plaintiff refused delivery of third and fourth bills without opening them.

9) Plaintiff spent hours on phone with various Sprint representatives, attempting to get refund. Refund was promised by several different Sprint employees but never delivered.

10) Plaintiff disputed credit card charge with card issuer on March 15. Card issuer rejected dispute after contacting defendant, because defendant refused to confirm that phone had been returned. (evidence: copies of credit card statements with original charge, temporary credit and reversal highlighted)

11) Plaintiff sent defendant’s CEO complaint office letter on May 1, detailing all problems encountered by plaintiff and demanding full refund. (evidence: copy of letter)

12) Plaintiff received voicemail message from defendant on May 14. Caller identified himself as Tyrone, referenced case number XXX and telephone number 866-398-4606, and falsely claimed that plaintiff’s credit card had never been charged any money by defendant. (evidence: scratch paper on which this message was written down)

13) Defendant failed to respond in writing to plaintiff’s letter as required by MGL Chapter 93A.

14) Defendant failed to follow its own published refund policies; failed to keep multiple promises to issue refund; forced plaintiff to spend hours on phone unsuccessfully attempting to obtain refund; failed to initiate proper investigation to confirm return of phone when contacted by credit card issuer; and failed to initiate proper investigation and issue refund in response to plaintiff’s letter to CEO. Together, these failures are sufficiently egregious to constitute violation of MGL Chapter 93A.

15) Defendant’s failure to issue refund was clearly willful and knowing. Defendant clearly knew, or should have known, that plaintiff was entitled to the refund being demanded. In particular:

15a) Defendant was notified in writing on at least six separate occasions of plaintiff’s demand for a refund:

15a.1) Defendant’s “retention letter” was returned by plaintiff with a notation demanding a refund.

15a.2) Plaintiff returned two service bills with notifications demanding a refund.

15a.3) Phone and associated written documentation were returned to defendant after plaintiff refused their delivery.

15a.4) Plaintiff sent written demand letter to defendant.

15a.5) Credit card issuer notified defendant in writing of dispute filed by plaintiff.

15b) Plaintiff also notified defendant about the required refund by telephone on multiple occasions.

15c) Defendant’s agents with whom plaintiff spoke by phone were able to confirm through examination of records in defendant’s internal computer systems that plaintiff’s credit card was charged.

15d) Defendant’s normal business practice is to charge customers’ credit cards when phones are shipped to them.

16) Plaintiff demands damages as follows:

  262.49 cost of phone
  1.17 postage for letters and bills from plaintiff to defendant
  2.45 printing and duplication costs (see par. 16a)
 
sub. 266.11
  532.22 trebled damages under MGL 93A
 
sub. 798.33
  51.83 12% statutory interest (see par. 16b)
 
sub. 850.16
  40.00 filing fee
 
TOTAL 890.16

16a) 4 pages for letter sent to Sprint; 9 pages Chapter 93A research; 12 x 3 = 36 for filing copies for plaintiff, defendant and court. 9 + 4 + 36 = 49 pages; at 49 pages x $0.05 per page = $2.45.

16b) interest is 12% per annum, calculated from date of breach, as per MGL Chapter 231 Section 6C. Date of breach is February 7, 2007, when phone was returned to defendant and defendant should have issued refund but didn’t. 196 days elapsed between date of breach and trial date. $798.33 x 196 / 365.25 x 0.12 = $51.83.

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27 thoughts on “Default judgment against Sprint in small-claims court

  1. Vern

    Sprint is still at it . Yesterday I was taking my son into town for lunch and then to the airport to catch a flight. At about 2 pm while eating he looked up and said that his phone just went dead.
    We were a block from the sprint store so we went in to see what we could do . They kept it for about an hour and checked it . Turns out it was just dead . They couldn’t find anything wrong . No insurance so we left . In the parking lot I called Sprint cust. Serv. . Explained everything and ask if they could do an upgrade ( I had gotten an upgrade letter about 2 months prior ). The rep . Told me he was going to let me do an upgrade for $50 and move the phone to the forever plan . He ask if I agreed . I said yes . He said he would upload the info and I should go into the local store and they would see the annotation and process the new phone .
    The sprint rep saw the annotation and said he needed to call sprint cust. Serv . to get verbal approval for verification ? He spoke to a lady who eventually hung up on him . Called back and got someone else and they couldn’t find the notes . Then spoke to a supervisor . She stated that she was going to waive the charges . Put us on hold and came back and said the first rep. Was wrong and she couldn’t waive anything ( they had just told us they couldn’t find the notes from the 1st rep. ) . Wow! So I ended up canceling my lease (cost $361) to get a new phone so my son could get on his flight .
    I’ll take these guys to small claims. I like the idea of taking sprints money as it comes in the door . That would be embarrassing for them .
    This is s great forum . I applaud everyone for standing up to sprint and making them pay for a change !

    Reply
  2. johnnyjumpup

    I am starting my preperation to terminate my contrat with SPrint whih I signed in Janurary 2012. I purchased s NExus 4G which i was told had WIMAX 4G which was being rolled out in the next couple of months. I then found out that WIMAX 4G would NEVER be rolled out to Phoenix and we are years away from LTE 4G. The 3G network is saturated here. I can get 5 bars and still get 30kbps. Mostly the signal is horrible and data plan is useless. I can only really use it on my WIFI. I went to California and i was getting 800K in their 3G areas and they didnt even have 4G in California. Every time i start my phone it has a big SPRINT 4G logo and I have yet to ever use 4G. No need to slow me down either as their service is worse that a 56K modem. I have speedtest results, screenshots etc of my signal strength and speeds. I am contacting them to ask that they allow me out of contract. If not, I will be taking them to small claims court. Regardless, I am canceling. They want $350 per phone for early termination which I will have to pay to avoid credit damage. Plus the costs for new phones with other carrriers and the costs for the phones with Sprint. This will be a huge expensive mistake. RUN FROM SPRINT!!!

    Reply
  3. Jason

    I am attempting to sue Sprint in small claims court in King County, Washington (Seattle). I can’t figure out who specifically to serve with the Notice of Small Claims. Do you know where I can find this info? According to King County, I must serve the “Office Manager, Corporate President, Secretary, Cashier, Managing Agent or Registered Agent”. I tried searching on the Kansas Secretary of State’s online business entity search, but it only listed another corporation as the Registered Agent. How can I find a specific person to serve? Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated!

    Reply
    1. jik Post author

      I am not a lawyer, so this advice is worth what you paid for it, but it seems to me that the registered agent does not need to be an individual person. If you found the registered agent for Sprint you should be able to send service there. Otherwise you can look up Sprint’s corporate address in their SEC filings, look up the name of their CEO on their web site, and serve the CEO at the corporate address.

      Reply
      1. Jason

        Thanks! That makes sense. I guess “corporations are people too, my friend”, so I should be able to serve one with a notice.

        Reply
        1. Jason

          It worked! I served Sprint’s CEO Daniel Hesse at Sprint’s corporate address in Overland Park, KS, via registered mail with return receipt. A week later, someone from Sprint’s legal department called me to settle the case.

          They offered me the $98 I was suing them for, but when I reminded them that I had to pay a $35 court filing fee and $10 for registered mail to serve the notice, we settled on the unpaid outstanding balance on my account, which was $120 (comfortably close to my total expenses).

          THANKS for giving me the confidence to take on the big bad corporation!

          Reply
    2. candace

      Hi Jason, I am interested in any assistance you can provide. I feel I have no choice but to file a claim in small claims court. I switched to Sprint (big mistake!) and then switched back to Verizon within the 30 day window. I returned the phones and asked for my refund (of activation fees, etc.) as promised in their 30 day guarantee. They will not refund my money and can’t find the phones now, insist I go back to the retail store I purchased the equipment from and deal with them but the retail store says there is nothing they can do because the employee that sold the equipment no longer works there. To top if off, my service never got cancelled because apparently the “shady worker” (described by Sprint store rep) added a line with a Samsung table to my account without my knowledge…

      Reply
  4. Barbara

    This is fantastic information. I am about to take Sprint to small claims court because after I terminated my service with them (due to their having told me I could get 4G internet from my home in Newton MA when I can just barely get 3G), I paid off the “early termination fee” (which they told me I would NOT owe them), but they keep billing me for it! Every month I call their support center, and I SWEAR I had no idea humans could be that thick-headed. I CANNOT get them to look at their own records to see if the bill has been paid!! So I give up and am taking them to court. What a company!?? How do they stay in business?

    Reply
  5. Will

    Having that judgment must be nice.

    Honestly, I would think that collecting the judgment would be the easiest part of the process. I’m not sure what they call it in Mass., but since there are apparently Sprint retail stores in your court’s jurisdiction, why don’t you just file the paperwork with the court to have the bailiffs go do a till tap? That might be the easiest way to get your money quickly. The bailiffs just sit there with the register guy and when people come in and pay cash, the bailiff takes the money that the customer was going to pay the store.

    Just a thought.

    Reply
  6. Lisa

    Greetings,

    I too have been the victim of Sprint and their terrible billing errors. They managed to turn a 375.00 bill into a 1900.00 bill. I am ready to begin the small claims action in the state of Washington. I need to craft a letter to the CREDIT reporting entity to avoid any negative information off my credit report. I keep trying to resolve this issue with the entities that call on Christmas eve, Christmas day, New years day. We pay our bills. But we do not pay bills we don’t owe…. I have never seen a company that behaves in such a way. Apearently, COSTCO has dropped Sprint from their stores…too many problems.

    Lisa

    Reply
  7. George

    I am about ready to file a small claims action against Sprint.

    16 months ago my daughter bought a telephone and add it to my account
    however sprint made an error and I was charged for all calls
    between 7pm and 7am even though I was paying 10 bucks a months for the
    free calls. The result is 1500 dollars in overcharges.

    The nightmare of promising me credit and then shutting off my phone instead and hours of wait time for customer service over a 4 month period was very frustrating. I have since changed to Cingular but am getting collection letters from Sprint.

    End result is a small claims action against them. fortunately i have downloaded my invoices before they cut me off from the website and can now prove their error.

    Thanks for your blog it is encouraging to see you can fight them in small claims court.

    Reply
  8. jik Post author

    I’m glad I could help. Congratulations on your victory, and I hope you are able to collect the judgment! 😉

    Reply
  9. Rob

    Hi,
    I came across your site as I was preparing to go to Small Claims Court (in Newton, MA) the next day. Not against Sprint, but against a former client who hadn’t paid me for some consulting work I had done. I was gathering documents, emails, etc for evidence but hadn’t really put it all together in a coherent argument and I wasn’t sure where to begin. Needless to say, it was all a bit disorganized and I was a stressed out. Your posting of the story of your case and point-by-point details helped me a lot. I just wanted to thank you for that. By the way, I won.

    Reply
  10. jik Post author

    I used the VA address. The notifications from the court to the VA address were not returned, so they must have reached someone at Sprint.

    Reply
  11. eric

    the address on the sprint web site is
    Sprint Nextel
    2001 Edmund Halley Drive
    Reston, VA 20191
    703-433-4000
    but when I called they said
    6480 Sprint Dr, overland parkway KA 66251 which is it?

    Reply
  12. eric

    I was online to see who I need to file against. Again in Texas if they do bussiness you can file here, but I want to make sure of address.

    Reply
  13. adam

    what is the hq sprint address please. I have problems with them.
    thank you.

    Reply
  14. Pingback: Something better to do » Blog Archive » Triple damages awarded in Sprint case; Sprint tries too late to make the save

  15. jik Post author

    I sued them in my local small claims court, using their corporate HQ as the target address of the lawsuit. Massachusetts allows suits in small claims court against out of state entities as long as the suit is about business that took place in Massachusetts. Since they sold me the phone in Massachusetts and have company-owned stores here, it was easy to show local jurisdiction. They could have tried to argue against jurisdiction if they’d shown up, but they didn’t come, so they lost by default.

    Reply
  16. ejinaj

    Good for you! Where did you take them to court? Did you have sprint served at one of thier representative stores locally? I read scuttlebut that you can only sue them in AR or MO. I have full intentions of filing small claims against them.

    Reply
  17. jik Post author

    Good question! I hadn’t really thought about it until you asked.

    The judge did not ask me to produce the service agreement. I suppose Sprint could have argued jurisdiction if they’d shown up at trial, but since they didn’t show up, I think that defense is now closed to them. If a defendant is notified about trial in a timely fashion (which they were, since the court sends trial notifications by certified mail and the notification to Sprint was not returned to the court) and fails to show up, then they are only allowed to appeal on the merits if they can convince a judge that there’s a pretty darn good reason why they didn’t show up.

    In any case, although Sprint’s arbitration clause may be enforceable for non-legal disputes, I’m pretty sure it can’t be used to prevent someone from suing them for violating the law. If the clerk magistrate ends up agreeing with me that there was a Chapter 93A violation, or even a breach of contract (they failed to honor their refund policy, which is an enforceable contract), then I believe I have grounds to sue regardless of what the service agreement says about arbitration.

    Reply
  18. Ilene

    How did you get around the arbitration clause in the Terms and Conditions? Did you have to produce the service agreement?

    Reply
  19. jik Post author

    Yeah, I do think my case was pretty rock-solid, so I’m sorry nobody from Sprint showed up — I would have enjoyed the battle. On the other hand, a small-claims court “battle” can be somewhat anticlimactic. It’s not like you can trade verbal punches back and forth. You talk to the clerk magistrate, not to the opposing party, and you only get to talk when the clerk magistrate says so.

    Reply
  20. John

    Excellent! Congratulations!

    Someone’s head at Sprint ought to roll for this behavior. This sounds like a textbook case of how NOT to treat customers, and how NOT to not-resolve a customer complaint. Morons!

    I once took an attorney to small claims court because she failed to refund me the balance of my retainer account for a year. She didn’t show up, and so I won by default. It was great to win but a bit of a letdown, because I was all set to clean her clock in court. Did you feel the same way here?

    Reply

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