As you may have heard today, Sprint will start assessing new fees for customers who swap 3G smartphones on Everything Plans after January 30th. Customers are facing a mandatory bill increase of $120/year for swapping phones they already own. If you haven’t seen our previous coverage, please read it first to avoid confusion.
Sprint has informed PhoneNews.com that they do not view this as a material change, as they are exempting warranty and insurance replacements of devices, so that customers who do not swap phones through their own initiative, will not be affected.
This puts us in a dilemma. For the untold thousands of people who swap out their $700 smartphones after the work week is done, you are materially impacted by this change. You now cannot use your service in the way Sprint advertised when you signed a two-year contract. Yet, Sprint is refusing to give you the option of cancelling service, and walking away amicably.
It’s no secret why Sprint is doing this. On one hand, their profit sharing with Clearwire has clearly failed thus far. On the other hand, Verizon is days away from launching iPhone 4. An ETF-Out at this time would cause hemorrhaging of customers to Verizon Wireless. Sprint would literally be better of being sued down the line, and losing a class action lawsuit, possibly years later when they themselves are selling iPhone or comparable devices.
And, that’s before you factor in the fallout on PhoneNews.com from Sprint, for all the stuff we just wrote above.
We’ve had experiences with situations where PhoneNews.com and the carrier don’t see eye to eye at all on the status of an ETF Out. On the other hand, we’ve gone the extra mile and worked with carriers when everyone is in agreement on the matter.
We don’t want to tell people that the best solution here is to dispute charges and wind up dealing with predatory debt collectors. We really don’t, and we’re speaking from experience there too. On the other hand, Verizon’s iPhone 4 is probably going to keep Sprint from changing their minds this time around.
In the past, we’ve started with FCC, BBB, and PUC complaints. To be honest, they haven’t worked in the past, and resulted in lip-service grade testimonials months and years afterwords. They certainly aren’t delivering the change we’ve believed in previously. Not that we’re telling you not to do that either.
So, we’re stuck here. We don’t have a good solution to this one. Many of you need to swap in a mil-spec feature phone when you go out into the wilderness… it’s how you live your life on the weekend. Do that after January 30, and your wireless bill will go up $120/year. We don’t roll that way often, but we certainly have G’zOne units in our office for the occasion. So, we know the dilemma you’re in right now.
We want your feedback on this, we want to hear what you have to say on how to move forward here.