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Sprint jumps in on prorated ETFs

This one flew right under our radar. Apparently Sprint announced that it would join Verizon and AT&T in offering prorated early termination fees at the same time T-Mobile did. Our bad. It’s the same deal as T-Mobile: It won’t be implemented until next year, and it only applies to new contracts. So if you are under contract with Sprint — say you signed up two months ago — you still have to pay a full ETF until your contract is up. The prorated ETF will go into effect when you sign a new contract, nearly two years from now. We’re sure a bit of strategic complaining can get your ETF prorated on your current contract, though.

Sprint announced a few new features along with the prorated ETF. The first is another piggyback of Verizon and AT&T: Change your rate plan without extending your contract. We didn’t see that provision from T-Mobile. We’ll look further into it, but we’d hope that America’s No. 4 carrier would offer the same courtesy as the top three.

Sprint is also offering a welcome call to all new customers:

Soon after a new customer activates service, a Sprint customer care representative will welcome the customer to Sprint, thank the customer for his or her business, ensure the customer feels fully informed about the product and/or plan chosen, about coverage and answer any questions. The goal is to ensure customers are fully educated about the Sprint products and services they purchased.

Wasted time. The sales representative from whom you purchase the phone should go over all of that with you. And if you buy it online, you should do your due diligence. We suppose the welcome call doesn’t hurt, but it’s not some boon for consumers or anything.

Here’s an idea that’s great in theory but sounds horrible in practice:

Sprint monitors new customers’ wireless usage during the first six months of service. To ensure customers are on the right plan, Sprint will notify them the first time they have incurred significant excess voice, text or data overage charges. Customer service representatives will recommend a new plan for the customer to help them avoid future overage charges and better meet their wireless needs.

Uh, yeah, every company notifies you of overages…on your bill! It doesn’t sound like Sprint is going to call you when you’re approaching your plan limits on the 20th of the month. They’ll wait until after you go over, and then call you. That’s backwards. If they want to do their customers a service, they’ll let them know beforehand, so 1) they can avoid overages and 2) they can change their plan for the next month. The language above suggests that Sprint will gladly take your overage charges, then tell you to spend more money on a larger calling plan.

In another move piggybacking Verizon, Sprint will also offer a “New For You” program, which mimics Verizon’s “New Every Two.” They’re advertising up to $150 off a new handset every 22 months, but we’re sure that figure includes the price for a new two-year contract. Under Verizon, you get either $50 or $100 off a new phone, depending on your rate plan, in addition to the new two-year contract subsidy.

It’s nice to see the No. 3 carrier finally catch up to the companies ahead of it. We’re not sure it’s going to do a ton of good for Sprint, though. They’re in a tailspin, and need to find ways to differentiate themselves from Verizon and AT&T. So while this is a good move, it’s not one that’s going to make up for their lost customers this past quarter.

[Sprint] via [Consumerist]