Sprint goes bold: Offers free service to lure switchers from Verizon

Sprint goes bold: Offers free service to lure switchers from Verizon

File photo taken in 2013 shows a Sprint logo is displayed on a smart phone in Montpelier, Vt.

Sprint has tried a lot of different ways to attract customers in recent years, but this may be its boldest play yet.†

The nation's fourth largest wireless carrier has a new offer to get people to switch from rival†Verizon: Free†unlimited service for one year.

The promotion, available online until June 30, promises to waive the charge for Sprint's unlimited service until July 31, 2018 if you switch from Verizon and already own your phone. You can keep†your number when you switch and you will get Sprint's regular unlimited plan, currently $50 per month for one line and $90 per month for up to five lines. This plan includes unlimited talk, text and 4G LTE data, 10GB of mobile hotspot and video streams in full HD, 1080p quality. †

The deal does not apply to AT&T or T-Mobile customers.

Of course, nothing in life is ever totally "free" and while there will be no charge for the service, you will still have to pay a monthly $1.99†"administrative†fee" and $0.40 "regulatory†fee,"†in addition to the usual†taxes and fees. There is a $2.99 one-time charge for each SIM card ordered, plus a $10 shipping charge and you will also need to be signed up for automatic payments (AutoPay) and electronic eBilling. If you remove AutoPay you will be charged an extra $5 per month per line.†

All told, however, that amount still pales in comparison to the cellular fees Verizon and Sprint normally charge. Sprint advertises that†a family of four would save over $2,100 in cellular fees compared to Verizon's rates (up to five lines can take advantage of this promotion).†

Verizon customers looking to switch will need to own one†of a select number of pre-approved devices, and all phones would need to be "unlocked," or able to be used on a network other than Verizon's. Among the†list of eligible phones†are the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S,†6S Plus,†7 and 7 Plus, Google Pixel and Pixel XL and unlocked versions of the Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 edge, S8 or S8+.

The move is not the first time Sprint has targeted Verizon. Last†year the nation's fourth largest carrier began using Paul Marcarelli, also known as Verizon's former "can you hear me now" guy,†in advertisements touting its network.†

Sprint will not be buying out current contracts or phone installment plans in this promotion, and if you wanted a new device you would need to buy one outright at its full retail price. Those looking to finance†a phone through the carrier will need to wait until October 1 to purchase a device on an installment plan.†

According to David Tovar,†Sprint's senior vice president of corporate communications, the deal is a "targeted pilot," an experiment focusing specifically on Verizon customers who already own their†devices and aren't necessarily looking to upgrade or change carriers. Those looking to make the switch will need to do so online, not through one of the company's retail stores.†

With no contract tied to the promotion, customers are free to switch†to a rival once the year ends and they need to once again pay for their service ($60 per month for one line, $100 for two lines or $160 for four). The goal, of course, is that they will be happy enough with Sprint to want to stay.†

ďWeíre trying to get people to stop and consider Sprint,Ē says Tovar. This offer ďgives them a really compelling reason to do so.Ē†



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