I can't have it activated through my supervisor because I don't work for Sprint PCS.
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As you may or may not know or care, Sprint PCS has announced that they plan to roll out their third-generation cellular network by the end of 2001. I, being something of a cellular afficianado, e-mailed Sprint PCS's developer program (of which I am a member), inquiring as to when specifically the 3G network would be rolled out, in general, and in the Ann Arbor/Detroit market, which is where i currently live.

Now, I do not have any specific application that I am developing for the Sprint PCS network. In fact, the only reason I am a member of the Sprint PCS developer's program is because I am interested in their technology and network and wanted as much inside information about it as I could get. However, the folks at Sprint PCS interpreted my e-mail as expressing doubt that their current second-generation network would be fast enough to successfully run the application I am developing. So, they offered me a free month of service on the developer's plan, which gives one 20 voice minutes, but unlimited "Wireless Web" minutes. (On Sprint PCS's 2G network, you access the "Wireless Web" over a circuit-data connection, which means that it uses up your voice minutes unless you are on the developer plan.)

Fast-forward a few days; I am in posession of a rather platinum-plus Sprint PCS phone, and the 800 number for the developer's hotline, which I need to call in order to have the unit activated. It seemed like this would be a relatively straightforward procedure, but boy was I mistaken. So, I pick up the phone and dial the 800 number, press "1" to "place an order", explain the situation to the representative who says that she must transfer me to Activations in order to have the phone activated. Unfortunately, the person in "Activations" has never heard of the Sprint PCS Developers' Plan, and in fact does not believe that it exists.

So, I call the developer's hotline again, and tell them what happened, and the guy says, "oh, hold on a minute, let me check on that." So after a minute, he comes back and says that I need to be transferred to national account activations, not regular activations. So he transfers me there, and after about fifteen minutes of the National Activations people trying to figure out what the Developers' Plan is, they come to the conclusion that it doesn't exist, and that I should call the Developers' Hotline back.

I call the developer's hotline several more times, and various strange things happen such as more people telling me it doesn't exist, and getting transferred to an automatic computer voice recognition system, and things of that nature. Eventually, somehow I wind up talking to some lady (no clue what department she is with), who speaks with her supervisor and tells me that I need to activate this phone through my "H.R. Director." I tell her that I don't have an H.R. Director, and she just says something evasive, so I ask if I can talk with her supervisor who told her about the H.R. Director thing. She says that that's no problem, and places me on hold.

This is where, normally, someone would pick up the phone and say, "Sprint PCS, may I help you?", and I would say, "you're so-and-so's supervisor, right?" and they would say "no sir, I'm just a queue-answering agent," and I would be like "dammit!", but no, this time, a guy answers and says "Hello, this is so-and-so's supervisor, I already told her that you need to have your H.R. Director take care of this; what else do ya need?" The following conversation (memory-permitting) then ensued:

Me: Yeah, you see, that's the thing -- I don't work for Sprint PCS.
Him: Huh? Well... Ok, you'll have to go through your supervisor then.
Me: I don't have a supervisor -- I don't work for (he cuts me off)
Him: I UNDERSTAND THAT. You will need to contact your immediate supervisor or H.R. Manager and do this through them!
Me: I.. DO.. NOT.. WORK.. FOR.. SPRINT.. (he tries to cut me off again) PCS.... I am an independent developer. I do this totally by myself. I do not have a supervisor or manager or H.R. Department.
Him: Well... Ok, then... What you do for Sprint PCS, like, on a contract basis... Uhm, who do you report to.. Who do you send your reports to?
Me: Nobody. I am an independent developer. I am not under contract with Sprint PCS. I am just a member of the developer's program.
Him: Sir, everyone reports to somebody, who do you file your reports with?
Me: I do not file reports. I have NEVER filed a report with Sprint PCS.
Him: Well, I can't activate this phone, you have to have it done through your immediate supervisor or H.R. Manager.

We went through it a few more times in a few different permutations, and eventually I just sort of gave up and said good-bye to him and hung up. I did eventually get the phone activated -- by random trial and error, I eventually found someone who knew how to activate it. It took two hours and ten minutes though; it was pretty crazy. Sprint PCS's wireless web is not really any more impressive than anyone else's though, and it presumably won't be until they get their 3G system rolled out (sort of like VoiceStream who suddenly whipped a nationwide 2.5G GPRS network out of nowhere on Monday of this week). But more on this later, in my upcoming "Cellular" section. :)


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