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Don't Sprint towards this mobile offer

As featured on the DisruptiveViews blog

If you are big mobile operator continuously losing customers to your major competitors for seven years, what do you do?

Do you come up with some creative offers, new products, offer better service or desperately drop prices to grab back market share, at whatever cost?

If you are US operator Sprint you take the easiest path, presumably because nothing else has worked, and drop your pants, ummm, prices to hopefully lure your competitors’ customers.

The rather convoluted offer starting December 5 requires Verizon and AT&T customers to bring their bills into a Sprint store on the promise that Sprint will cut them in half, metaphorically, not physically if they make the switch.

They will also be offered a $350 per line on a Visa Prepaid Card to reimburse any Early Termination Fees or Installment Billing balances. and be matched with a similar service plan from Sprint for half the price.

Strangely, T-Mobile customers are not eligible for the half-price offer and, not surprisingly, existing Sprint customers.

But a closer look at the “Cut Your Bill in Half Event” reveals that the offer is not quite as simple as it sounds. In true telco style, complexity reigns and prospective customers may go away being anything but convinced they are going to get a cheaper deal.

The five ‘easy’ steps are:

  1. Grab your Verizon or AT&T bill, upload a copy online or visit a Sprint store to see how much you can save!
  2. Select a shiny new Sprint device with the iPhone for Life Plan, Sprint Lease or Sprint Easy Pay.
  3. Bring your Verizon or AT&T phone(s) to a Sprint store. Ordering online? We’ll send a prepaid shipping kit to return your phone(s).
  4. You’ll need to port a number to Sprint for each phone you activate.
  5. Then go online to get up to $350 per line on a Visa Prepaid Card to reimburse your Early Termination Fee or Installment Billing balance.

Couldn’t be easier, could it? But wait, there’s more. A $200 charge per phone will be applied to your bill if you don’t return your old phone(s) within 30 days of activating your new devices. There are also a ‘few’ conditions including the requirement of a valid port from AT&T or Verizon to consumer account with $10 minimum monthly rate charge.

The deal includes unlimited domestic calling and texting but a maximum of 10 phone/tablet/MBB lines and one data share group per account. At least one phone is required to be connected and plans are not transferable.

As for data the offer includes on-network data allowance amount as determined by competitor plan and 100MB off-network data usage. Additional on-network data usage is charged at 1.5¢/MB. Additional off-network data can be added by opt in only for 25¢/MB for tablets/MBBs. Third-party content/downloads attract an additional charge. Mobile Hotspot Usage pulls from data allowances.

If line of service disconnects on shared plan, the discounted monthly rate charge will remain the same with no adjustment. Discount does not apply to certain charges such as taxes, surcharges, add-ons, apps, premium content, international services, devices, partial charges or additional lines. An additional $25/line term charge applies if activated on discounted phone until customer enters into a new device transaction that does not have a term service agreement or elects to change plans. Discount calculated off full monthly rate charge for all lines on shared plan.

Other plans may receive prioritized bandwidth availability. To improve data experience for the majority of users, throughput may be limited, varied or reduced on the network. Sprint may terminate service if off-network roaming usage in a month exceeds: (1) 800 minutes or a majority of minutes.; or (2) 100MB or a majority of KB. Prohibited network use rules apply.

No equipment security deposit. Customer is responsible for insurance and repairs. Early termination of lease/service: Remaining lease payments will be due immediately, and requires device return or payment of purchase option device price in lease. Offers and coverage not available everywhere or for all phones/networks (not available with Blackberry, Wimax and Sprint Direct Connect). May not be combined with other offers. No additional discounts apply no, lastly, Sprint reserves the right to change or cancel this offer at any time.

Wow, did you get all that? I bet you can’t wait to take up such a fantastic, easy to understand offer and save 50% of your current bill, sort of. Perhaps Sprint should have stuck with its previous offer of doubling the capped data amount of any competitor’s plans for the same price users currently pay. At least that was easy to understand and administer and didn’t need a lawyer and actuary to decipher.