Sunday, August 24, 2014

The “New” Sprint

If you follow me on Facebook, you’ve possibly read my latest saga with our local telecom giant.

My wife and I had unlimited data for many years. On January 30, Kerstin was finally eligible for an upgrade and could replace that cracked screen she had carried around for 10+ months.

Sprint Framily plan DOA - cell tower
Like the Staff of Sauron every two miles
“You know,” the rep said, “you guys would benefit from a new plan we’re offering.”

While he scrolled back through many months of our data usage numbers and explained that we had never approached 1GB of data in a given month on either line, he never mentioned that the plan (the then-unnamed Framily plan) had data caps at 1GB. We walked out of the store with the new plan with the addition of a Samsung tablet/data plan at a rate of just $10 more per month.

Miraculously, five weeks into the new plan, we began receiving email notifications about either or both of our accounts approaching or exceeding the monthly 1GB limit. For a simple $10 more per month (per line), or an extra, mere $480 over the life of the 2-year contract, I was subsequently assured, we could avoid any further overage charges.

Duped is the kindest word I could conjure to describe the situation.

Could this be the culprit?
Given the replacement of former CEO Dan Hesse – whom I understand through several mutual friends to be a genuinely good, well-meaning guy in and out of the corporate landscape – with Marcelo Claure, I have been keenly tuned into the news of late from the Sprint campus.

The new guy is on a mission to shake things up both within the company and in the market in which he competes. And to his credit, Claure is acting at warp speed relative to incoming CEOs of virtually any other Fortune 5,000 company in the last 100 years.

Claure’s recent experience as a member of Sprint's Board of Directors serves him well in this capacity.

On Monday, the beginning of his second week as Grand Poohbah, he and other C's took the ALS ice-bucket challenge, hosted a somewhat spontaneous BBQ for the ~14,000 campus employees, and started a price war with T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon. Most of us upon starting a new job are still exploring which floor has the least stale coffee and deciding which pocket of the company-supplied desk organizer will be the lucky one to hold the contents of our complimentary box of paperclips.

Claure also declared the Framily plan dead in the water.

"There will be no more Framily plan," he more or less said, and just like that, those endless agency-produced spots simply vanished from the airwaves leaving more time for other companies to tell me what meds I need to ask my doctor to prescribe for me for conditions I had no idea I had, or that were conditions at all.

Yeast infections sound really bad. Though I haven't had one yet, I should probably ask for hellacoochie difloxinase hyperbieberstatin asperodite by name next time I go in just to be safe. But I digress.

Let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of my bleeding bank account for which, sadly, there is no Big Pharma remedy.
All about the Benjabytes
We have two smart phones, a vigorously dormant Samsung tablet, and a WI-Fi hotspot which serves me well (mostly) in various coffee shops and chain restaurants where outlets are plentiful.

I asked my overly friendly Sprint rep for details about the new plan options and whether we would be automatically switched out of the Framily fiasco on the day of its apparent demise.

"Oh, the Framily plan still exists for those like you who are on it."

--> needle scraping vinyl <-- br="">

"Well, you'd better be moving us off of that plan today or you’ll lose four current and at least two future lines tomorrow."

Though we "never" came close to 1GB on either mobile phone before the January switch according to several discussions with other Sprint reps in the recent past, my wife and I have been using a combined 5.5-6GB since then (with zero change in our daily usage habits – a topic we explored ad nauseam).
My reaction to death, taxes, war, or dealing with the phone company
The Sprint rep, therefore, recommended moving us to the new plan with a combined 8GB cap for $70/month.

"Seventy bucks," you're thinking. "That sound great! Sign me up!"

Not so fast.

With the Framily plan, we paid approximately $228/month not including taxes and overage fees. With tax alone, that monthly bill was just north of a quarter of a thousand dollars.

Under the new plan, he gave me the following breakdown:
  • $70 for 8GB shared
  • $25 - iPhone line access fee
  • $25 - Galaxy 4 line access fee
  • $10 - Samsung tablet line access fee
  • $20 - WI-Fi hotspot line access fee
  • $13 - Insurance - tablet
  • $11 - Insurance - Galaxy 4
  • $11 - Insurance - iPhone
  • $30 - installment on the Galaxy 4
So, $215 plus taxes and surcharges and mysterious couch-cushion, change-sucking fees. [Clearly, these individual charges are not going to mirror your own bills or pricing plans, but I hope this post delivers enough information for you to accurately apply the appropriate charges to your own experience and get the best deal possible.]

After all of that, we basically negate any overage fees and lower our rate by $14 (rounding).

"That's a start," I say. "Talk to me about the 20GB option."

To keeps it brief, all details above remain the same except:
  1. 20GB shared data costs $100/month ($30 increase)
  2. Only at the 20GB tier, there is a price break on the line access fees for the two cell phones - $15 each instead of $25 each. ($20 decrease)

We're now saving $4 over what we were paying for the frailed Framily experiment with 10 times the amount of data. This will help as we add a line for the boy and loose the tablet from its heretofore perpetual time out.

Aside from the Sprint rep's probing for and fruitless psychoanalyzing of any major life changes that would have altered our data usage in the last eight months – there were none – it was largely time well spent amidst a time of spending largely.

I just thought this was cute.

So, what has your experience been with the Sprint revolution?

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