Boost Mobile Experiments With Not Giving Away Phones, Quickly Retreats

Image courtesy of Mike Mozart

Giving new customers an inexpensive phone for free, or a credit toward a pricier phone isn’t a big deal, right? Boost Mobile apparently didn’t realize what kind of effect it would have on their customers when it got rid of free phones. The experiment only lasted for two months.

Free phones disappeared on Sept. 1, and Fierce Wireless speculates that the goal of the change may have been to create a new money-saving norm in the market, with competing prepaid carriers dropping their free phones, too.

That didn’t happen: instead, competitors kept the free phones flowing, and Boost had to reverse its decision before the holiday shopping season began.

According to Fierce Wireless, Wave7, a research firm in the mobile industry, observed that the carrier’s “reform of ending instant free phones for porting customers was a journey – sort of like the Hindenburg.” That’s harsh.

Harsh, but Sprint may not have had a choice after discovering that it was down by 427,000 net users in its prepaid divisions, Boost and Virgin Mobile. While users are always switching carriers for some reason or other, losing that many customers cumulatively is a bad sign, and not keeping up with competitors’ phone promotions will probably hurt its numbers in the last quarter of the year even more.

Boost reinstates phone giveaway after Sprint bleeds prepaid users [Fierce Wireless]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.