How a racist stranger ended up with this woman’s phone number
The first text was startling, but not shocking.
Almitra Buzan and her husband, Robert, were enjoying a date-night dinner on June 30. Her mother, Maat Manyatta, was baby-sitting and texted them in their group chat. Maat had fallen during a game of hide-and-seek with the kids.
“I am glad Will & Jenni-Ri are here,” her text read. “They helped me up. … That was a shock to my system!”
Robert got the text, but Almitra’s phone hadn’t worked since they’d left the Sprint store that afternoon. “But then, moments later, we get a text back,” Almitra says. “A text from me.”
The message — a vulgar, expletive-laden screed, wasn’t from Almitra at all.
“Well f--- that little c--- Jenni I’ll make sure I whoop her little a-- real good ok granny? Will that make you feel better?” the message read.
Shocked, Robert and Almitra stared at his phone. Robert called Maat to say Almitra hadn’t been texting.
Soon came an even more vulgar tirade, rife with racial slurs and other offensive language.
“This man sent texts that were violent and racist,” Almitra tells The Star this week as she tries to hold back tears. “All of this tells me this is a really serious situation, and it makes me fear for my safety.”
Earlier that day, the couple had visited the Sprint store on Northeast Douglas Road in Lee’s Summit to fix a Wi-Fi problem on Almitra’s phone. After they left, Sprint workers later told Almitra, an “unsavory” looking man entered the store and asked to have a specific number applied to his phone. The store technician, however, accidentally applied Almitra’s number to the man’s phone, stripping Almitra’s phone of its service.
And while Sprint officials have admitted the error was their fault and issued an apology to the Buzans, Almitra and Robert remain angry and unsatisfied.
“It just doesn’t seem like they care,” Almitra says. “The first few people we talked to didn’t even say ‘sorry.’ ”
The Buzans said the first person they talked to, a customer support representative, was only able to offer credit for the three hours Almitra’s phone was down.
“The next person we talked to didn’t even say sorry,” Almitra says. “We feel like the higher up we went, the less concerned they had been. They didn’t even want to take our phone numbers down.”
The Buzans asked for one year paid service for them and Almitra’s mother, new phones and — at the suggestion of law enforcement officers they had spoken with — an identify-theft protection plan.
Too much, Sprint told them.
“We have reviewed your concerns with our Legal and Office of Privacy,” wrote Richard Layne, a Sprint executive and regulatory services supervisor on July 8. His “best and final offer” was a one-time credit of $532 to pay off the leases on their two phones, and he would make the couple eligible for two new phones.
“This had been such a disruption to our lives,” Almitra says. “There has been an emotional scar. And even if they would have said OK six months (paid service) and identity theft protection or if they had just acted quickly, we would have been happy. But it’s been six weeks.”
Lisa Belot, a communications manager for Sprint, says that the company tries to treat every complaint or question as quickly as possible and that she thought, “to the best of my knowledge,” that Sprint had handled the Buzans’ situation as best it could.
“I can’t speak to how decisions were made and can’t offer details about what we did offer her,” Belot says. “However there were products and services offered that we felt were satisfactory.”
Email correspondence with Sprint shows that the Buzans ultimately attempted to accept Sprint’s final offer but were told the incident — and thus the final offer itself — had been placed under review by Sprint’s legal team.
Belot said she could not comment on plans to resolve the issue with the Buzans or divulge any information on the man who sent the messages, whether he had been reported to police or whether his actions were a violation of Sprint’s user policy and worthy of contract termination.
“You know how when you go to a restaurant and they make a mistake and they at least attempt to do all they can to make the situation better? That’s all we wanted,” Almitra said.
Adds Robert: “And exactly what we’re not getting,”