If Bloatware Keeps You From Downloading Phone Apps You Actually Want, Should Carriers Offer An Upgrade?

We’ve written before about the annoyances of bloatware — those apps you are never ever going to use but come with your smartphone and cannot be deleted no matter how much you swear at your phone. Consumerist reader Ryan’s got his own bone to pick with zombie apps that can’t be killed on his Sprint phone, because they’re interfering with his ability to use it in the way he intended when he bought it. In short: he can’t download apps he actually wants because the bloatware takes up too much space, even with a new SD card.

Ryan writes that he is frustrated by not being able to use his one-year-old EVO Shift how he wanted to — he doesn’t have songs, movies or anything that would take up a lot of room, but he can’t download any more than the few additional apps he actually wants because of the pre-installed software. He bought a new SD card, which didn’t help because the bloatware can’t be moved or deleted whatsoever and apps can’t be downloaded directly to the card.

He wrote to Sprint customer service with a proposition as to how the company can fix his problem, saying in part:

The following apps I do not use, ye they also cannot be deleted, preventing me from downloading apps I want: Facebook, Kindle, Amazon MP3, Twitter, TeleNav GPS Navigator, NASCAR, HTC Weather, Sprint Football, Sprint TV, Peep, Footprints, Stocks, Calendar.

One of the main reasons I purchased a smart phone and pay for web service is to download and use the apps of my choosing. This is now an impossibility, even though my hardware isn’t damaged. It’s a flaw with the software configuration.

Since Sprint sold me a phone that largely cannot accommodate new apps — even with the larger SD card — I’d like to become eligible for my discounted upgrade now, instead of a year from now, so I can have a phone that provides me the services I pay for. If this is not possible, I’d like to be freed from my contract.

Instead of anything resembling a response that makes sense, here’s what he got:

Good morning Ryan,

Thank you for contacting Sprint/Nextel regarding your issue. we apologize for any inconvenience or delay .. our records account/ban#. ********* will NOT became fully ELIGIBLE for the maxim equipment upgrade discount ($150.00 -OFF) before mail-in rebate until “07/01/13” .. under the new policy you qualify in “22” months as oppose to the old “24” (2yr.) also poss. “14” days in advance if needed, something that was never offered before .. however we also offer the Refurbish Equipment Program at very LOW Cost & NO Contract contractual agreement as a temporary option .. thought this information might be helpful .. (please advise)


Say what now? Ryan replied:

With all due respect, you didn’t answer my question. I know I’m not eligible for a new phone. I said that in my email. My question wasn’t whether I am eligible for a new phone. My question is whether you will replace my phone with one that functions. Currently, I feel Sprint isn’t holding up it’s end of the contract because it was advertised that I could download apps with this phone, and I currently cannot.

Please let me know how Sprint will address this.

Also, I don’t understand why there would be a cost (even a LOW cost) for Sprint to replace a defective product.

We understand why these apps exist — partnerships between the phone’s manufacturers or carriers are moneymakers — but there should be a point where users can get those apps deleted. Perhaps a trial-period of non-deletion for the first months of a phone’s activation, or in-store deleting by customer service reps.

Ryan adds — “Shoot – I’m not even asking them to give me a phone. I’m asking them to let me sign a new 2-year contract and just push up my eligibility date for a discount. Of course, I probably could remove this stuff if I rooted the phone. But that would probably invalidate all sorts of warranties.”

In any case, using your phone with the apps you want on it shouldn’t be so difficult. Otherwise it’s just a mobile lump of unused apps that can take phone calls and send texts, which is so 2006. For shame, Sprint and other carriers! Free us from your app zombies.

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