Victory! Sprint has updated its policies for domestic violence victims attempting to cancel or change their services in order to stay safe from their abusers, becoming the second national provider, alongside Verizon, to update policies after public outcry sparked by Change.org petition. After over 175,000 people signed Jane Doe's petition asking Sprint to improve their policies to protect victims of domestic violence
“Jane Doe” -- a domestic violence victim who remained anonymous in order to protect herself from her abuser -- launched the campaign after Cindy Butterworth, whose sister survived domestic violence, convinced Verizon to change their policies concerning fees for domestic violence victims.
Even though “Jane” had a court-mandated restraining order, she said Sprint refused to waive the original $200 fee they charged her to separate her account from her abuser’s. “Jane” recalls that she had no money at the time and knew her abuser could track her using Sprint cell phone records.
Jane says, “I thought I was alone, but after seeing Cindy’s campaign successfully change Verizon’s policies, I realized this was a much bigger problem. I never imagined this many people would support my fight. I am thrilled that Sprint has not only done the right thing but that the company has gone above and beyond to ensure that they support victims like me. It’s truly remarkable."
I thought I was alone.
The abuse went on for months before I finally hit my breaking point. While I was pregnant with our son, it escalated. When my son was only four months old, he was on the bed next to me when his father strangled me and then threatened to stomp my head in with steel toed boots. I left. And I got a restraining order against him the very next day.
But when I tried to cancel his line on our joint contract with Sprint - which was in my name - Sprint told me the charge to do so would be $200. I had a four month old baby, no job, no income and no steady place to stay. And I was terrified. $200 could make or break my attempt to stay safe and take care of my little one. Not to mention that my abuser could access my phone records to find me. Sprint wouldn't budge. Even when I said I could provide a copy of the court mandated restraining order, they said they couldn't waive the fee. A year later, they are still fighting me for it.
Then I saw Cindy’s petition. Her sister had gone through the same thing with Verizon and after Cindy started her petition, over 190,000 people, including me, signed it. People started sharing their own experiences and pushed for Verizon to make a change. And not only did Verizon eventually waive the fees, they drastically improved their customer service policies to make sure that this didn’t happen to people like me, and like Cindy’s sister, again.
Dozens of other Sprint customers left comments on Cindy's petition saying they had faced the same thing with Sprint. I realized I wasn’t alone. And that with enough people behind me, I could make a difference too.
It’s been over a year and I have my life back. I have a job and childcare for my son. I feel safe. But I don't feel safe enough to use my real name on this petition -- and Sprint is still hurting me by aggressively trying to collect the $200. Sprint has sent a collection agency after me, therefore my credit has been negatively affected -- all because I tried to keep my son and myself safe. Nobody should have to pay for safety when escaping an abuser.
If it can happen to Cindy’s sister, if it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody. Sprint should follow Verizon’s lead and update their policies to make sure they are helping to keep domestic violence victims safe -- not punish them. Sprint has all sorts of programs to promote family safety, but when my family was unsafe, they refused to help.
Join me to tell Sprint to update their policies to be sure they are helping to protect victims of domestic violence, not punishing them.