No Sprint Service, Let Out Of Contract If I Surrender My New Phone

Vincent has been a Sprint customer for a long time, and it’s only just recently that his service really started to suck. He drops or misses calls, and can’t get a data connection. ONly after calling the Consumerist Hotline did he learn that the problem is systemic: their network is overloaded in his area, and there might be a solution at the end of this year. Sprint has made him an offer: they’ll let him out of his contact without an early termination fee, but only if he gives back his recently purchased smartphone. He says that he shelled out $400 for this phone, and would have sold it to another Sprint customer to recoup some of his losses. What should he do?

He writes:

For the past few months I have been having major issues with Sprint service, I am constantly seeing issues with dropped calls unable to receive phone calls or just plan use of data. A few months ago a went to a sprint store and they said my hardware was bad and i had to pay for a replacement phone. I received a replacement phone at a cost with no difference in service, After this my wife also started complaining about issues with missed phone calls and dropped calls. After calling support multiple and being escalated to a supervisor I found myself with no solution.

I decided to call the Consumerist Hotline. In which a very friendly person took my case and offered to help. After her logging a case with network engineers a few days later she got got back to me and confirmed there is a issue in my area that the network is overloaded. A fix is not expected until end of year.

She has offered me out of my contract with the caveat that I have to return my equipment [in lieu] of a ETF. Is this considered standard practice and why do i have to return equipment I payed well over $400 for without any sort of reimbursement?