Sprint Also Making Upgrade Program Suck More

Not wanting to be left out of the party, Sprint became the latest carrier to announce it’s going to make it more expensive for customers to upgrade.

Currently, under the Sprint “Premier” plan, anyone with an individual plan over $69.99, or a family plan over $139.99, is eligible to upgrade at the same price as a new customer once per year. But starting April 1, Sprint is introducing “Sprint Premier Silver” and “Sprint Premier Gold.”

“Gold” is the same as old “Premier” except you need a more expensive plan to qualify, an individual plan of $89.98+ or a family plan of $169.99+, or have been a Sprint customer for over 10 years. You also get all the benefits that “Silvers” get.

The “Silver” level takes away the annual line upgrade option, but you get to keep the relatively worthless options: a 25% discount off two accessories if you buy them through Sprint directly, “just because” perks, first to buy offers, a customer newsletter (ooh!), and access to a plan analyzer to see if you’re using the best minutes plan based on your usage. You could get the same for free through BillShrink.com. To qualify for Silver you need a plan of $69.99-$89.98 or a family plan of $99.98-$169.98

Reader Mike is not happy with the change. “Between this, the removal of discounts on share plan add-a-line fees, and the recent requirement of $10 Premium Data add-ons for all new smartphone activations starting today, I think I might just end up paying the ETF’s on my current lines and moving to Verizon or T-Mobile,” he writes. “I imagine Sprint hopes they can push people into more expensive plans with this change, but since their base plans that would meet the old Sprint Premier requirements include unlimited minutes to cell phones already and any upgrades only add more voice minutes, I don’t really know why anyone would. And of course all those Premium Data fees they are now trying to get us to pay also don’t count towards that Sprint Premier Gold requirement either.”

The change comes right before everyone who was an early purchaser of the hot-selling HTC EVO 4G, which required the Premium Data add-on, would become eligible to upgrade.

On Sprint’s FAQ page announcing the new program levels, they said, “It makes sense for Premier Customers who have told us on the Premier Community that it’s only fair that we recognize those Premier customers who spend more or those Premier customers who have shown us their loyalty by being with us longer.” Also, “It makes sense for Sprint because – like everyone in this economy — we have to make our dollars stretch further so that we can recognize more customers yet still afford meaningful Premier benefits.”

Starting this month Sprint also raised activation fees for new data plans by $10. The news is also within a month of AT&T raising rates, Verizon dumping its New Every Two program, and Virgin Mobile killing off its unlimited mobile broadband plan. It looks like all the carriers are taking January as the opportunity to make customers pay more and give them less in return.

Sprint Premiere Update [Sprint] (Thanks to ogremustcrush!)

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AT&T To Change Text Message Packages And Chuck Some Upgrade Discounts
Virgin Killing Off Unlimited Mobile Broadband Plan
Verizon Confirms “New Every Two” Is Ending
Sprint Raising Data Rates By $10 Per Month For New Activations