July 6, 2007 3:46 PM PDT

Splitting up with your cell phone carrier

(continued from previous page)

That breaking point could be lower for Sprint than for some of its competitors. While other wireless operators, such as AT&T and Verizon Wireless, are raking in profits, Sprint Nextel has been losing money.

The company lost $211 million during the first quarter compared with a profit of $164 million for the same period a year earlier. Revenue for the quarter, which topped out at $10.1 billion, only grew 1 percent compared to the previous year. The company blamed the disappointing results on investments in network coverage and subsidies for handsets, among other things.

In general, the company has struggled since its Nextel acquisition to retain customers. In the first quarter it lost 220,000 monthly subscribers. The company has consistently had one of the highest churn rates in the industry, topping out at about 2.7 percent for the first quarter. By contrast, Verizon has kept its churn around 1.1 percent.

"I wasn't calling to be annoying. I was just trying to get them to fix their mistake."
--Rene, former Sprint Nextel customer

Given this fact, it might seem strange that the company, which is in desperate need of retaining subscribers, would cut any.

Rene said she had only been calling the customer support line to correct Sprint's billing mistakes.

"I wasn't calling to be annoying," she said. "I was just trying to get them to fix their mistake. I still like the service and feel like I am getting a great deal. I even renewed my contract a couple of months ago and upgraded to the new Treo 755."

She claims Sprint began charging her in January for additional services that had previously been included in a special plan the company offered her in 2005 when she renewed her contract for the third time. The plan consisted of 1,000 anytime voice minutes, free night and weekend calling, free text messaging, unlimited data usage, and free mobile-to-mobile minutes for $40 a month, a great deal to say the least.

When charges started showing up on her bill, Rene called customer support to straighten out the issue and was assured it had been a mistake and the same problem would not occur the following month.

But when her bill came the next month, the charges were still there, she said. For five straight months, Rene called the Sprint customer support line after she received her bill to clear up the erroneous charges, and each time was assured the problem had been fixed.

While she said the customer representatives she dealt with seemed helpful, she often had to sit on hold for 30 minutes or more. She was transferred to several different operators in different departments, she said. And numerous calls were dropped, forcing her to call back.

What Rene didn't realize is that Sprint was keeping a tally of her phone calls, counting each transfer as a separate call to the support line. Finally, without warning, she was told in the June 29 letter to find another carrier.

"Our records indicate that over the past year, we have received frequent calls from you regarding your billing or other general account information," the letter reads. "While we have worked to resolve your issues and questions to the best of our ability, the number of inquiries you have made to us during this time has led us to determine that we are unable to meet your current wireless needs."

"Therefore after careful consideration, the decision has been made to terminate your wireless service agreement effective July 30, 2007."

For the past week, Rene has been trying to get the decision overturned. But on Friday, she was informed that the company is still canceling her service.

Meanwhile, Rene's boyfriend, who is also a Sprint subscriber, says he has gotten 30 unsolicited telemarketing calls over the past several months from Sprint asking him if he wants to add additional lines to his service. Even though he has explicitly asked Sprint not to call him with additional offers, he is still receiving phone calls.

"It's ridiculous that they can call us as many times as they want to sell us something," Rene said. "But if I call to ask them to fix their error, they cancel my service."

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49 comments

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Imagine
Imagine if Tmobile followed suit and dismissed customers who called in too often to complain about dropped calls and overages? Wow, they will have to cut off 50% of their client base!
Posted by myuan (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Early Termination with no fee!!!
I have been a Sprint customer for years - I am getting more and more fed up with Sprint but I can't leave right now because of early termination penalties. Now I know how to get out of that - all I need to do is start calling customer service and wait for them to cancel my account - I escape free and clear with no cancellation fee.
Posted by Renceward (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
If I pay more than $100.00 a month....
then I deserve the right to call them as much as I want. This is another example of customer satisfaction gone in the toilet. I applaud her for speaking out and letting others know.

Everyone has their limits, but that should not affect how we treat loyal customers. Especially a company that employs 1000+ people to keep customers happy. Looks like to me that they cant do the job.
Posted by tekwiz4u (350 comments )
Reply Link Flag
5MB/mo??? I don't think so!
Perhaps you meant 5 GIGabytes per month?
Posted by pjk0 (1198 comments )
Reply Link Flag
5MB limit????
i doubt that 5MB was meant to say....

5GB is a typical wireless limit... in the US and Europe... the
providers are gangsters... if they advertise unlimited then it is
unlimited... i hope the clients sue their provider!
Posted by smokeonit (109 comments )
Link Flag
A word of advice for Sprint
Quit trying to push your service faults on to clients as their responsibility: it's appalling! Maybe you wouldn't have the highest churn of state-side wireless suppliers--or those financial losses--if you actually knew the meaning of Customer Service. It sounds like you have some serious company-wide problems that need to be addressed immediately.
Posted by techie2479 (84 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Early termination should work both ways.
Sprint should pay their terminated customers the same fee that they demand if a customer wants to quit on their own. That would be fair since the terminated customer now has to spend more time shopping for a new service and they should be compensated for the trouble. On the other hand if Sprint's web site was more interactive at resolving their customers problems then the cost of maintaining support staff would not be a factor in terminating customers. Sprint needs to fix the reason why customers contact them in the first place.
Posted by xmit30 (13 comments )
Reply Link Flag
lol
that's not in the contract they signed.
Posted by DrtyDogg (3084 comments )
Link Flag
spint(ing to failure)
After "careful consideration" your plan was waaay tooo cheap. So
bye bye.

That is the beab counters. Most companies that lose money tend
to "fire" staff. Customers are usually not fired unless it costs the
company. Soon they will be firing employees.

Oh yes, and top management will get millions in bonuses!!!

**** heads that they all are.
Posted by jrzshor (102 comments )
Reply Link Flag
missing info
Ok, I really can not comment too much on this since the whole story is not there. Sprint claimed she called an excessive amount of times to customer service, but we do not know what those calls were about. Working in customer care for many places I know that people will call in for the most ridiculous things, such as claiming they didn't make that long distance call, or didn't order that pay per view when the company knows for a fact that they did. If she was calling in all the time to try and get charges removed that were just charges, then I can see why Sprint would drop her.

So, with that in mind, I wont say who is at fault here. Remember, you always get two sides of the story, one persons side and the other persons side, very rarely do you ever get the full truth.
Posted by tanis143 (122 comments )
Reply Link Flag
True
I've worked in a customer service call center also, and they are not shy about telling you how much each call/minute you are on the phone costs the company.
On another note, there are a few companies around here with horrible customer service and I like to cost them money, so I sometimes call them for nothing when I get bored. . .

Maked me feel better anyway.
Posted by DrtyDogg (3084 comments )
Link Flag
Sprint billing errors
About a year ago, we had billing errors month after month. We were paying for unlimited text messaging and yet we were being billed for every text message. We had two phones on the plan and we were being double billed for some features. You can bet that I will call up and get those charges reversed. Every last call was because of a mistake on Sprint's part.
So now it looks like Sprint makes billing errors, customer calls in to complain, customer is dumped because of "too many calls to customer service"
I had previously decided that when my current contract is up, that I will not be staying with Sprint, this merely reinforces my decision.
Posted by Renceward (7 comments )
Link Flag
Excessive Roaming?!!!
Well maybe if Sprint's offered broader wireless coverage, their customers would not need to roam off-network so often. It's just amazing to me that a company is taking a shortcoming of its service and using it against its customers like this.
Posted by iBuzz (330 comments )
Reply Link Flag
excessive roaming
read the story, it was about verizon kicking people off for excessive roaming.. not spring.
Posted by wnurse (39 comments )
Link Flag
Good point.
If you have good coverage, your customers won't roam. If you have crappy coverage, well...that's their fault. It's all invisible to me. My phone works or it doesn't.
Posted by Renegade Knight (13748 comments )
Link Flag
Wishing I'd Get Dumped!
I have been a VERY loyal Sprint Customer for 7 years..I have been overbilled every single month more than $100 for about 2 years!..I truly believe that I have held up my end of my agreement, carrying 4 lines and paying my bill, but monthly I have to go into the Sprint Store (where they know me very well by now!) and go over my bill with them, once again, make them take off the amenities which for 2 years I have been telling them I do not want....Every Sprint employee that I deal with face to face knows exactly what I am talking about and one actually gave me the 'sacred' 'not to be given out' telephone number to the district manager here..needless to say, I am leaving Sprint, I will NOT pay any fees and will never look back...After all the times I have had to go into the stores and call customer service, I'm amazed I didn't receive one of those letters!!!....What I would give for one...I will be gone this week come hell or high water!
Posted by maf63 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Amazing...
This is just the latest arrogant move by a company that refuses to provide decent customer service. I hope every Sprint customer cancels their service. Certainly, no one should ever sign up with them, knowing that they have no intention of taking care of their customers.

The business plan for the new millenium: Money for nothin'!
Posted by ogman (150 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Make sure to look at it from all angles . . .
Before I comment on this, let me state where I am coming from, I am an employee for a Third Party Sprint Call Center, who works in an escalation dept, working with issues from both Sprint & Nextel customers. I read the article that Sprint has come out with for Customer Care reps to read(I guess it's not open to public yet), & it stated that people who are "released" are customer's who call in far too often. Now, by what I mean as far too often is numbering in the hundreds per month. Sprint stated that there have only been about 1,200 customer's that have been sent this notice, which only makes up about 1 in every 40,000 customers who got this. On top of this, these people who called in all these times who were released, it wasn't about an ongoing issue, it was about issued that Sprint had already deemed either resolved or fixed, & the customer was just calling in repeatedly to try & get a rep that wouldn't follow Sprint procedure, who would give them their way. If you have an actual issue; a valid ONGOING issue, please do not let this persuade you from calling in, but if you are one of these customers who is a repeat offender, the kind that absolutely ruin the whole day of most good reps, I ask you kindly, please either stop calling in & wasting Sprints time, or find another carrier who wants to put up with it. I am obviously not speaking on behalf of Sprint officially, but I can tell you for sure that I am speaking on behalf of the majority of reps who work for Sprint(& most likely reps from all Cell Phone Providers.)
Posted by bigdefense02 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
So give up on them.....
and pass the problems to other wireless call centers. yeah...that solves the issue at hand... real probelm solving, dont you think?

I'm not a fan of companies that gives up when reps throw up their hands. I've called call centers and the majority of them are clock watchers, line transferers, and shoulder shruggers. I'm not demeaning the profession at all, but it takes ONE bad seed to affect the teams perfomance. So when a customer repeatedly call to dispute errors on a bill that shouldv'e been taken care of the 1st time, and they have to call again to explain it?....well...I'd be irratated.

Handle the real issue at hand, fix it the first time and you'll spend less time writing letters to customers for your mistakes.
Posted by tekwiz4u (350 comments )
Link Flag
Yeh right
If you call customer service you will have to call back many times before you can get someone who can speak english well enought to understand them. Do yourself a favor and drop sprint they ar e awfull at customer care.
Posted by jdtj63 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sprint is the worst company ever
This article made me laugh because I myself may be affected. Sprint has made a heavenly decision by liberating these soon to be grateful customers from this garbage company. The woman in the article will soon realize it's for the better, service that is. Sprint has done a horrid job with Nextel, ruining it, and their own service is subpar. Those who like Sprint have low standards for cell service and are misinformed. If I insult anyone well then compare your Sprint service with some other carrier like Verizon or Alltel and then tell Consumer Reports and any disgruntled customers that they are wrong and say three times, Sprint is great.
Posted by Louienyc75 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I AGREE, SPRING IS THE WORST CELL COMPANY
I dropped Verizon 3 years ago thinking it couldn't get any worse, well the worst yet is SPRINT. On january 10,2008 I called because my phone bill was coming out to more than what I had signed up for after changing my plan in October 2007; I was promised a call within two weeks, it never happened. I called after 3 weeks had passed, I was again promised a call back the following day; again didn't happen. On Sunday february 23, 2008 i finally got a hold of someone, after being transfered 3 times, who I though would help. Her name is Candace and her Sprint employee number is 697044. She confirmed I had been overcharged and would credit my account $239 and collected $129 payment; she would get my account squared withing less than four hours and would send me an e-mail confirming all the above, NOTHING HAPPENED!! These people get away with lying and nothing happens!! Yesterday 2/29/08 my phone was put out of service and another incompetent idiot from Sprint, a supervisor, told me that there was not way he could confirm or find that other employee who made all these promises, there werent any notes in the system. INCREDIBLE, NO ACCOUNTABILITY!! Save your money and agravation, DO NOT GET SCREWED BY SPRINT!!
Posted by BBYOLIVS (1 comment )
Link Flag
Inside Story on Sprint's Billing Problems
We would definitely like to get cut off by Sprint without a termination fee. The service problems with Sprint have been horrific for several months. The inside scoop on Sprint's trouble; This information came from a Sprint customer service specialist who will remain unidentified. Sprint has been trying to upgrade their online website. Sprint has been unsuccessful for several months in trying to integrate the two different billing systems. The source of many of the problems we have been experiencing, wrong account balance, can't sign in, services added without permission, overcharging, has been the online website. When we sign into our account using a user name and password, the billing system defaults back to the old billing system. There is a little box in the settings page that apparently "checks itself" as the user signs onto the new billing system with the existing user name and password and sends the user back onto the old billing network. You know this is happening when you call *2 for customer service as the voice will state "just so you know you owe $ and you will need to pay this right away". The amount is usually in the hundreds of dollars as the system is screwed up and is somehow adding the balalnces of prevous bills that have already been paid. If you have paid your bill and you go to a Sprint store or call customer service they will say your bill is zero as they are on the correct billing system. You would think after several months a company like Sprint which has millions of dollars would have been able to solve the problem. They will lie to you and say there is no problem but I got this information from the inside. Anybody interested in a class action suit?
Posted by royallensmith (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Class Action Suit?
>> Anybody interested in a class action suit?

Since I started with Spring in June, I have spent over 2 hours on hold trying to fix their screwups.
Most recently, is my first bill. They have overcharged me by about $40 with the assurance that I'll be credited with my next bill.
Can someone please tell me why I should make an interest free loan to Spring?
To be honest, there is real money in this, and I think Spring owes us interest on these advance payments.

What do you all think?
Posted by richb01 (1 comment )
Link Flag
Class Actio - Where do we sign up?
Horrible experience, terrible customer service. Signed up for ?free? Sprint to Sprint mobile service for $59.99. Would get bills for hundreds of dollars. Spent hours (in excess of 30 hrs) on the phone to get billing straightened out. Promises of correct billing never materialized. Cancelled account and sought legal advise. Still fighting with these people.
Posted by JohnD51 (1 comment )
Link Flag
Sprint Billing Errors
Over the past year or so my sprint bill has had numerous errors. It is to the point literally that I would like to charge them for the time that I spend on the line every month trying to get rid of added services that I did not ask for, plan changes that I did not ask for etc. My bill came in yesterday and it was close to $460.00. my normal bill should be at about $125.00 tops. Every month it is wrong and is always a significant overcharge. Last month I called because they charged my son for all his texts even though I ordered (and it states on the invoice)"Unlimited Texting". That was a $109.00 overcharge that they promised as a credit to me in this month's bill. What I got this month was not only the normal charges for the plan and no credit, but charges for individual texts at .20 per, a .40 charge for each call made on 2 of the 3 lines (even though they were supposed to be included) added Picture services, my 2nd phone was supposed to be 20.00 and the third, free but they billed me $20 for for each as well as my main line that the plan was tied to! So That, coupled with not getting the previous month's credit, came to another promised credit amounting to $435.89. I had to stop the auto bill pay option with them cause I have no idea what they are going to bill me from month to month. Not only do the overcharge me but they dont credit my bank account right away after it gets reported. They tell me that it will be credited on the next billing period. Basically they keep whatever they want to overcharge me for a period of 30 days.... I am at a loss as to what to do. I am seriously cosidering paying the $600.00 ($200/line) in contract fees to get out of this. I feel bad for the folks that do not regularly check thier bill cause I know that they are getting the screws put to them. I am not a suing happy person but I would consider a class action suit here.
Posted by WMOORE11 (1 comment )
Link Flag
Internet Service
I made the mistake of signing up with Sprint for internet service (Air Card for laptop internet). I provided my own card, so Sprint was not out any "FREE" equipment. About two months later I was injured and lost my job as a result. I no longer needed the service. The first call to customer service Sprint agreed to terminate the internet service without penalty due to the fact that I had provided my own air card. The next month I recieved a bill for the service though, this went on for almost a year with several calls to customer service and stopping by a Sprint Store. The service was supposed to be stopped. Then we got a bill in excess of $300 because we had not called to cancel a service that was already cancelled. I would not talk to Sprint anymore. My wife made several calls and they finally agreed to actually drop the service that they agreed to drop over a year ago. We did get one adjusted bill since then. Now waiting to see if in a month or two we will be right back where we were with monthly billing for a service that was cancelled.
Posted by wyomingsundancer (23 comments )
Reply Link Flag
5GB/mo not 5MB/mo
where the hell are the editors and proofreaders? terrible.
Posted by trifster (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sprint: learn from other companies!
I am just amazed about how many companies have a horrible
customer service. Starting with the fact that when you call to
"order service" you get someone in the US to answer your call;
but if you call about "billing or support" issues you get routed
to India or Philippines, where usually they do not have the same
systems and can barely understand what they say - to the point
of frustration.

Can't companies learn from a place like American Express? I
have been a member since I was 22 (34 now) and have never
ever experienced bad customer service. They are the most
helpful people I can think of. Second in my list is Apple; in my
experience their customer service is just as good as Amex; and
that is something to say when they are trying to solve (for
hours) computer issues with grandma on the phone.

Business move or not Sprint has fallen into crappy policy, and I
am glad I am not their customer anymore. Luckily, I left right
before they bought Nextel -which was another piece of crap
company-. Maybe they learn their bad habits way too quick.
Posted by Xtoo (126 comments )
Reply Link Flag
They all suck
I totally sympathise with you. However not because I'm with the same company. I'm with AT&T. I've also been treated very badly by them. I had an original AT&T wireless contract which the merged company have been harassing me to change ever since. The reason being that it offered far better value than anything the merged company subsequently wanted to offer. When I called to complain about crap reception I'd be told that I need to change talk plan to fix it!!!

Anyway my conclusion is that they all treat us as numbers not customers. They don't need to treat us well as long as their accountants say the numbers work out.

For you changing from sprint is going to feel satisfying as you are not only getting the iphone but you get to stick you finger up at sprint as well. For me unfortunately the choice is to get a new contract with a company that has treated me like dirt already or not get the phone I would like.
Posted by freeflyfranz (2 comments )
Link Flag
Sprint Cancel Contracts
They may be in violation of their own tariffs. There are big fines associated with activity by a company that is disguised as a troublesome customer; when the real intent is that the customer has a great deal and it is not profitable to the company. That is what this sounds like. A call to the appropriate regulatory agency should be made.If the facts of this article hold up; the customer will prevail and the company will be fined. The customer may win not only retro-active re-instatement; but a period of time they will not be charged for service as part of the settlement. Go get em'
Posted by redlus (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
They are a bad company.....
I'm a verizon customer for about 12 years now and I can see a
bad carrier a mile off. Sprint/Nextel is a dead carrier walking.
I'm in the middle of my last 2 year deal with verizon. I can't see
ever having another phone without a sim card or the ability to
take my phone overseas or use a cheap SIM card to save money.
By the end of my Verizon deal, I'll have two unlocked phones
ready for my next wireless deal.
Posted by gwats1957 (117 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sorry Bud Your Mistaken
Verizon and Sprint both run on the same type of Network CDMA :D, Sorry you do not have a SIM chip. To get a SIM Chip you need to Suffer through GSM Tech aka (AT&T or T-Mobile), were T-Mobile is realy the only one that will willingly unlock your phone, unfortunatly T-Mobile was last getting on the Digital Band Wangon and is trailing. As for DATA Services, Sprint has the best one with the best price. When they say unlimited DATA they actualy mean it, try using a Router with AT&T or Verizon, and see how fast u get a nasty letter. Now for Sprints Current problems, they are going through some growing pains merging 2 complete diferent billing systems. THERE IS NO EASY WAY OF DOING IT. Unfortunatly, the consumer ends up paying, and that is unfortunate. I do know that if you are wanting to be on the cutting edge of Technology there are going to be some speed bumbs, this is only one of them. Sprint has a track record of looking in the futeure, and bringing new tech to the consumer faster and cheeper then any othere carrier. I know there is someone out there that will disagree with me so have at it
Posted by zeus1973usa (5 comments )
Link Flag
what about phone cost issue
Why is no one asking the question why Sprint isn't refunding their customers for the purchase price of their phones. If you purchase something that will not work for you, then you deserve a refund. Look at the woman in the story, she said she just upgraded to the Treo a few months ago. I am certain she didn't get the phone for free. If they dont refund her the purchase price of the phone, then they are raping their customers. I hope this angle doesnt get overlooked, and I hope Sprint loses its ass in this regard

If Tmobile pulled this, I would definitely be gone in the first wave. I got my first Blackberry in Feb, and since, have had many issues with billing, phone, service, BB network. None of which were in regards to me not understanding the blackberry, I have the internet for that. But between the warranty replacements and the billing issues, I wouldn't seem like a good customer on paper, although, I have no plans on leaving. Should I be dropped, I would have a very expensive BBbrick.

Just hope someone pushes the phone cost issue!
Posted by jeremyblaze (36 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You have got to be kidding me
SPRINT is running away from their problems. Spring used to call me when I had them, asking me if I wanted to add extra services. I would always hang up on them.
Regarding Verizon -- I know someone who exceeded the 5 meg limit. He works for Verizon. When he told them that his boss TOLD HIM TO USE THE CARD TO DO HIS JOB they did not cancel his service. However I can't possibly understand why a cell phone company would reject one of their own. It doesn't make good sense.
Go ahead Verizon, reject me for using your unlimited bandwidth. I'll have your keister in court with the FTC for faulty advertising.
Posted by seannj427 (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Nextel/Sprint
I have had Nextel for about ten years & while they sometimes overcharged for my three phones I was always able to get credited or get additional minitues added to receive compensation. Once Nextel became Sprint I have had terrible customer service. I had to almost pull teeth to get one phone line dropped which I had no current contract on and during the 6 plus months of going back & forth with them they continued to charge me for the phonee service even though I was not using it & was repeatedly asking for the line to be cancelled. Finally they did cancel & offered to not charge me the fee for the cancelling of the line as if I did have a contract which I had not had for three years. Duh, that was one nightmare. Now I have only two phones, but am not happy with the service I am receiving. I got talked into changing an old Nextel plan which I was supposedly allowed to keep which was a good deal, but which Sprint kept adding extra costs to because of their billing; and they offered me unlimited minutes for $ 99.00 per month. Sounded good, but now I am paying around $150.00 to $ 175.00 a month for just the one line as there are additional charges for the use of long distance etc., I told them it would need to be nationwide at acceptance & was asured it was at no additional cost, I thought. Overall I am not happy at the way they treat business customers and their lack of appreciation for long time customers who should, one would think be getting the best deals not being exploited as they are already involved. I will be finding a different business cell & internet provider for my two phones & notebooks when I am out of the darn contract, Also I had my phone stolen & to receive a replacement at the lower rate I was told I had to extend my service contract for a addtional two years or pay full price for the replacement phone even though 8 months prior I had already paid full price for the stolen phone to avoid being tied into a contract. No customer loyalty as far as I can see. Also had better reception with Nextel than Sprint Nextel. I am not a happy customer & they sure do not care.
Posted by Susie Rae (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Then they delete those records
But if you're contesting something they previously said, and you give them the date, time and name of the operator you talked to, they'll say they have no record of you ever making a call to them at that time.
Posted by TV James (680 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sprint blows goats!!
I had next tel for about a year, then they got bought by sprint..
during my time with next tel I had a 50 dollar a month plan with unlimited radio. I stayed within my minutes and used my radio mostly.
after sprint got ahold of next tel, my bill went from 50 to 90 to 150 dollars a month with no change in my usage. I finally gave them 200 dollars to get out of my contract...I couldn't afford to pay their extra charges.
Posted by towerclimber37 (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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