Should Sprint Tell Me That I Could Switch To A Cheaper Data Plan?

Amy may be the first reader in Consumerist history to complain about being left on an unlimited mobile data plan. She has tethering on her smartphone, which lets her use her phone as a mobile Internet hotspot. Yes, apps exist that can help you get around this limitation. Officially, if you want to tether, you generally have to pay for a data plan that includes it. Amy was paying for a $30/month plan, but learned that she was grandfathered in, and a cheaper plan existed. Sure, the cheaper plan only includes two gigabytes of data, but she never uses that much anyway. It costs $10 less. She wanted to alert her fellow Sprint customers to this change, and complain that the company didn’t let her know she had an opportunity to give them less money in exchange for capped data.

She writes:

Wanted to alert my fellow Sprint customers who [pay to] use their phone as a hotspot. I called to cancel my hotspot service the other day and was told that if I wanted to start it up again later I couldn’t get the same price, which was $29.99/month, for [5 GB of data.] This is because in May they discontinued that package and introduced 2 pricing tiers–one at $19.99 for 2 GB of data, and one at [$49.99, for 6 GB.]

I pity any poor fool who uses more than 2 GB of data per month on a hotspot at the 3G speed, and I am not one of them, not by a lot. So ever since May I have been paying $10 more per month than any other customer who happened to buy hotspot service after May. More than the 30 bucks I overspent I am upset that Sprint would be so greedy and so unfair to its customers, especially those of us on the honor system who pay to use the hotspot!

When I called Sprint to ask for a credit for the $30 I overpaid since May I was told by the representative that “they’re never going to give you that credit”, and then I spoke to his manager, who said it was not unfair and that the consumer has the responsibility to stay alerted to lower prices. She said Sprint does not have “the manpower” to notify customers of pricing changes that would be in their favor.

But again, this was not simply a sales promotion that I missed out on–this is a service plan that is EXPIRED (that’s Sprint’s term, not mine). Without question Sprint or any company can charge whatever they want at any time, and it’s up to the consumer to pick the company or service that is the best deal for them. I wholeheartedly thank Sprint for this reminder, which I will especially keep in mind when my contract is up in a few months.

We can log in and check available features on a carrier’s web site at any time, it’s true, but there’s no reason to log in and check data plan pricing if you don’t know that the plans have changed. That’s the point of wireless plans in the first place, though, isn’t it? You’ve signed up to pay for (X) voice minutes, data, or text messages whether you use them or not.