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.


Edit Your Comment

  1. AzCatz07 says:

    I have to side with Spring on this one. Does she expect them to monitor her data usage and then make suggestions to her? She paid for 5GB and had 5GB available to use. If she wasn’t using that much, she should’ve investigated what other plans were available. Plans change all the time.

    • AzCatz07 says:

      Not Spring, Sprint. Duh

    • TravistyRobertoson says:

      She had an unlimited plan for $30. she could have switched to 5GB for $30 or 2GB for $20.

      • NotEd says:

        Not unliminited. Her current plans is 5GB for $30, according to the post.
        Current alternatives are 2GB for $20 or 6GB for $50.

        Frankly I don’t think Sprint owes her anything. Most people would be glad to be grandfathered into the 5GB plan.

    • Snowblind says:

      I dunno.

      Some years ago I used my tethered phone on a business trip. Turned out that they had botched the transfer of my data plan from the old phone to the new phone when it was replaced under the equipment insurance a few months prior to the trip.

      They called me, told me not to worry about that $1500 phone bill headed my way, and fixed the problem without me asking for anything.

      So they can monitor, they choose not to do so.

      • AzCatz07 says:

        I’m not saying they can’t monitor. I’m saying that no reasonable person expects them to monitor. Asking for a refund in this situation is completely asinine.

      • nbarnard says:

        They probably do this sort of monitoring to prevent really pissed off customers, and it also is likely a matter of them accessing their credit risk. If someone who usually spends $150 a month spends $1,500 a month it probably gets kicked to the credit team who looks at it.

        Reminds me of the time I worked a telecom and we had to manually input a date that the service started on. Someone entered 04/30/09 instead of 04/30/2009 and we promptly billed them for 2000 years of service. That was over a million dollars. It got automatically printed and mailed before we could catch it, so we emailed them and told them to disregard that invoice.

    • wren337 says:

      Wouldn’t that be excellent service?

      • George4478 says:

        My mailbox is already filled with companies offering to save me money if I switched plans on my phone, pest control, lawn care, mortgage, etc.

        I do not consider those offers excellent service. I consider them annoyances.

        If I want to change plans I’ll go look at my options and contact you, Sprint.

  2. rdm says:

    Don’t you think that paying way too much for features don’t need is probably part of their strategy?

  3. wombats lives in [redacted] says:

    I pity the poor fool, which actually expects a company to go out of their way to tell them that they can save money thus losing the company money. The website has a plan compare feature, how lazy is the OP?

  4. dulcinea47 says:

    What the actual… you’re surprised that a for-profit business wants to make profit off of you? That its main priority isn’t finding the cheapest deal for it’s customers, and also constantly reviewing their accounts to make sure nothing changes?

    Seriously, you said it yourself. it’s up to the consumer to make sure they get the best deal.

  5. TravistyRobertoson says:

    Why would they call and let you know your plan is expired, if the are not making you change your plan. Most people would want to keep the unlimited data for tethering. If i received a call that my plan could change to a capped plan for less data for less money or could keep my unlimited plan, I would keep my unlimited plan.

  6. Rick says:

    I have to side on Sprint with this one. I remember Sprint made the change and saw couple of advertisements for the new hotspot plans.

  7. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    Someone needs a f%cking wake-up call.

    Get a grip, lady.

  8. SirWired says:

    Seriously? She expects Sprint to call her up and let her know there was a way for her to send Sprint less money?

    Does she also expect car dealers to point out that she doesn’t REALLY need 4WD, and she would probably do just fine with an I-4 instead of a V6?

  9. lyontaymer30 says:

    She’s acting like they hid it from her or something lol.

  10. Geekybiker says:

    Who wants to bet she got multiple mailings and emails about the new data rates and ignored them? I know I got tons of mail from sprint about new plans when I was with them.

    • scorpionamongus says:

      I’m with Sprint as well and just for the sake of clarity, I went back through my Gmail account to look for every email I have received from Sprint over the past year; there were none mentioning the new tiered hotspot plans. Not that I necessarily think they should have alerted the OP – or anyone else, including me – about the change, but I do think it is better to keep these things based on fact rather than the conjecture you offered.

      • Geekybiker says:

        Yes, lets ignore direct mail and the fact that not everyone has the same email preferences set that you do. Clearly your sample of 1 means that Sprint never sent out any marketing material on the plan.

  11. RedOryx says:

    “When I called Sprint to ask for a credit for the $30 I overpaid since May”

    You didn’t overpay. You were paying for a plan that included 5GB of data. The fact that you didn’t use that much data isn’t Sprint’s fault. It’s like someone getting cable and only ever watching half the channels and then wanting to only pay half the bill. That’s not how it works.

  12. IndyJaws says:

    So it’s Comcast’s fault when I don’t call them to find out what kind of promotional discount I can get for being a loyal customer? It’s my local grocery store’s fault when I don’t use a coupon they make easily available on their website? Perhaps Sprint should have also done an analysis to determine which call tier best suits your usage?

    Bad customer (and consumer), plain and simple.

    • luxosaucer13 says:

      I dunno about your cell company, but mine does a complementary plan analysis every time I go in to pay the bill to see if I’m on the best plan for my usage. It’s called having the customer’s back.

  13. cbutler says:

    Actually. Sprint DID call me up years back to tell me I’m not taking advantage of the $99.00 Simply Everything plan and got me to drop down to the $69.00 plan. I loved their service. Can’t wait to go back when the contract is over for AT&T.

    • njack says:

      If Sprint had any coverage, I’d be willing to give them a try. I had a loaner phone from my company with Sprint service for a couple weeks. It was little more than a paperweight.

  14. fruvous says:

    Hmmm, I wonder if all stores I shop at would be kind enough to put signs up telling me where I can get every item cheaper.

  15. JenK says:

    If she was using all of her data and Sprint called her to switch plans to a smaller one, she’d be upset at that too! There’s no pleasing some people.

  16. Coelacanth says:

    This is why customers should periodically review services with their providers (cellular, cable, financial, etc…) and determine if there are other plans that are a better fit for their goals and budget.

    To be honest, I seem to recall a feature on the Sprint website that analyzes usage history and makes recommendations. Not sure how robust it is, as I’ve already done my homework to select the cheapest postpaid plan that suits my needs (and the analyzer retroactively said the “best fit” for me.) Not sure if it also analyzes data use.

    People are also paying “insurance,” if you will, with a higher data plan just in case for some reason, data use spikes beyond the norm, and you don’t get saddled with a bill that could easily be hundreds, even thousands of dollars, because one’s exceeded their limit for that month…

    Just because a person stays under the 2GB *most* of the time doesn’t mean they might not have a freak month with 5GB+ data.

  17. nbs2 says:

    Sigh….the next time someone complains about people acting entitled, remember this story. I cannot think of a better term to describe her attitude.

  18. tlvx says:

    The bottom line is that tiered plan based companies, should bill based on what tier you’ve “actually used” that month, and what tier your actual usage falls under, rather than on our own prognostications as consumers.

    It’s an unethical way to do business, to charge for services not even rendered, merely because they’ve set it up unilaterally in their favor. Companies should not be allowed to do this in the first place.

    Overages should not even exist. As it is now, overages only exist to compel consumers to sign up for higher plans than they actually will use, in fear of being dinged even further, in the event that their usage encounters a spike.

    This type of billing doesn’t need regulation, it just needs to be abolished.

    • wombats lives in [redacted] says:

      I agree with the majority of what you’re stating. I would like and appreciate billing reform for a lot of subscription services, phone plans included. With that said though, the op wasn’t cheated, she received what she paid for. As she owns and pays for her own phone I would suspect she’s been a consumer for a while and should know that needs to watch out for her own best interests in options and plans. In the future hopefully that may not be needed but for now it is and it has been for a long time.

    • TravistyRobertoson says:

      What a crock: “It’s an unethical way to do business, to charge for services not even rendered” the services were rendered. She signed up for a service the get unlimited data. It was at her choosing to use as much or as little as she wants. That is what she was paying for. Some months on my cell phone plan I use 15+GB worth of data and some less than 1.

    • tlvx says:

      Could you imagine if the power company were able to bill like the cellular phone companies?

      Pick a power plan… go over that, and then your bill gets real interesting. Go under, and heck, we’ll still bill you for it… because you thought you might want need it, at least to avoid the first fate of being charged for overage.

      The PUC would have a field day with that. So, why are some of the other utilities allowed to get away with an obviously rigged billing system?

  19. Press1forDialTone says:

    Yes, they should tell you because it’s the overall right thing to do for their company
    by goodwill and more customers, but, no, they won’t because they don’t give a whoot
    about your service, they only care about your money and how to get more of it.

  20. njack says:

    Blame is clearly on the OP, what universe does she live in?

  21. Bob A Dobalina says:

    Should all businesses be obligated to call and tell you that you can send them less money?

    “Yeah, we know you bought the $57,000 2013 Cadillac Limited with full options but we noticed you only average 23 miles a day. You could save a lot of money with the $1999 93 Geo. We just wanted to let you know in case you wanted to trade”

    People will go to Best Buy time and again and tolerate the crappy products and harassment in the stores. They will continue to pay their cable company for 300 channels of nothing for years and put up with customer service that makes Nazis seem friendly. But let their cell phone carrier drop a call or change the most minor thing on their plans, and they are all up in arms and calling for revolution

    Get over yourselves, you self entitled prima donnas

  22. nauip says:

    Just logged in to my Sprint account – one of the links at around the middle of the page is (still) Analyze My Plan. I believe this is the tool she is looking for.

  23. ninram says:

    I wonder if the OP is a regular Consumerist reader. The price change was talked about in these very pages.

  24. jessiburkham says:

    I’ve worked for two different phone companies both have overage alerts sent straight to your phone so the issue can be corrected before the bill closes and you end up in a jam.That to me is above required. To ask them to credit you back from when they started a new promotion is very unreasonable, The companies advertise promotions and most even send flyers in your bill to let you know whats new its then your job to ask for it.

  25. Mr. Bill says:

    Simple answer for a simple question. No.