Bring Your Own Phone? Sprint Still Wants A Contract

Clayton was under the impression that mobile phone contracts exist because carriers want to lock us in and recoup the costs of subsidizing our handset purchases. That makes sense, right? I mean, if we bring our own phones when signing up with a new carrier, we’re just exchanging money for phone service, and there’s no reason to lock us into a contract. Right? Right, Sprint?

I recently ran into a situation that I was unable to resolve with Sprint customer service, much to my surprise.

I had always thought it was common knowledge that cell phone contracts are in place due to their relationship with phone subsidies. It makes sense that the cell provider require a contract and an early termination fee if they are subsidizing the price of a new phone. In fact, in recent years they have created tiered ETF fees dependent on the kind of phone you are using.

Apparently Sprint does not understand this relationship between contract and subsidized phone. Although it is written in their contract that the ETF is dependent on the kind of phone you have purchased, they still require a two year contract if you are activating a line with your own existing phone. The ETF is connected to my existing phone, an HTC Evo. If I cancel my contract early I will be charged the high teir ETF fee for a phone they never subsidized.

I ran this issue all the way up to executive customer service with absolutely no resolution. While my customer service rep understood my confusion, and admitted that all three other phone companies did not have this required contract, there was absolutely nothing she could do.

It is corporate Sprint policy to require a new two year contract with every new line activated regardless of new phone purchase or not. I am told there is absolutely no bending of this policy.

Needless to say I believe this policy is anti-customer and when the new iPhone is released I will be paying my ETF’s and switching to another provider. You see, for me it isn’t about the best deal. It is about the relationship between business and customer, and Sprint seems to be the overbearing girlfriend. It’s time to dump her, as well as the 20% she makes up in my stock portfolio.

Clayton, that’s a really unfair comparison. Likening a mobile phone company’s insistence on having all new customers under contract to an overbearing girlfriend is an insult to overbearing girlfriends (and boyfriends) everywhere.

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