Sprint: Bastard Whoremongers From Hell
So I check my cell phone the other day and notice that there have been, like, 48,000 calls that I have apparently missed recently. I think, what the hell? — surely I would have known if people were calling! Right? — and start fiddling with the phone. It turns out that at some point in recent history the speaker on my phone suffered a kind of Grand Mal seizure; now, when someone calls, it rings, but in a kind of strangled high-pitched tone that only dogs can hear.
Time to get a new phone. I’m a Sprint PCS customer, so I toodle over to their Web site to see what the options are (and to drool briefly over the Treo 650 before moving on to more reasonable options).
Because this is an unplanned purchase, I’m not looking to spend a lot of money. I don’t need an Inspector Gadget special anyway. Since every mobile carrier in the US subsidizes their phones, I figure I should be able to find something both decent and reasonably inexpensive.
However, I soon discover that Sprint’s handset subsidy contains a bit of a poison pill. You see, they will knock $150 off the price of a handset right at the point of purchase, with the activation of a new service plan — but only if that plan contains their PCS Vision add-on services, if the handset supports it. And these days they all do.
(In fact they appear to have exactly one phone that does not — probably to keep people like me from being able to claim that we are being completely railroaded into Vision. Never mind that this phone has about as much style as a Soviet business suit.)
Why is that a poison pill? Because it takes a $35/month cellphone bill and tacks on an extra $15/month for “services” that I’ll never use like video clips and screen savers. (Screen savers? On a freaking cell phone?)
So that’s the Hobson’s choice they stick you with — accept having your bill jacked up by 40% every month, waive the handset subsidy, or take the Uglo-phone 9000. And if you waive the handset subsidy even the most basic phones are $160 and up. Yuck.
But wait, there’s more!
For those of us who are already Sprint customers, they have a program called “New For You” to “reward” us for our loyalty. Anyone who’s had their current Sprint phone for 18 months or more is eligible. It works like this: You buy a new phone and service plan, and Sprint will give you an additional $150 rebate.
Not bad, right? Well, except that, just like for new customers, the rebate is only offered if your new plan contains Vision service for a Vision handset. So we’re back to the price-hike-versus-Uglophone dilemma. And, because they’re so thankful for our loyalty, the rebate is handled as a mail-in — and they claim it’ll take them 8-14 weeks to process it! So you’ve gotta front the $150 and then spend three months waiting for Sprint to pay it back. No f#@%ing thanks.
This whole experience has me profoundly soured on Sprint, though I’m sure the other carriers are just as bad. Anyone have recommendations for somewhere that I can get a good phone for a reasonable price without having my monthly bill larded down with crap I don’t need?