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Surprise: Sprint’s ‘killer deal’ isn’t as great as we’d hoped [updated]

December 3rd, 2014 at 3:51 PM
Sprint Vs. Verizon Vs. AT&T Promotion

Earlier this week we brought you word of a bold Sprint deal to steal you away from AT&T and Verizon, but now Re/code reports that the deal isn’t nearly as good as we thought it was when it was announced.

RELATED: Consumer Reports says Sprint is still America’s worst wireless carrier and it’s not even close

Sprint’s promotion lets AT&T and Verizon customers bring their bills into a Sprint store, where a representative will find a plan for them that cuts what they’re paying on voice, data and text messaging in half. However, Sprint also requires you to turn in your old device and get a new one by either paying for it completely up front or through one of Sprint’s monthly installment or leasing plans — and this means your net savings from switching to Sprint won’t be anywhere close to 50%.

“They are still probably getting a 20% sort of net discount,” CFO Joe Euteneuer admitted at a Merrill Lynch conference this past Tuesday.

Some other fine print that’s worth noting: If you turn in a device that’s not in “good working order” or isn’t “current,” Sprint can slap you with a $200 fee for not turning in your old phone. Also, customers taking advantage of this deal will not take priority during high traffic hours. In other words, if you’re using your phone during peak hours and there’s lots of network congestion, other Sprint customers will be given priority to faster data services over you.

Still, 20% savings isn’t nothing and Sprint still will pay off up to $350 in early termination fees if you switch. On the other hand, it would mean having to deal with Sprint’s network, which multiple tests have shown again and again is the slowest mobile data network among any major American operator.

UPDATE: Sprint checks in to clarify its terms of service and say that it does not prioritize any users’ connection speeds during peak hours. Rather, Sprint’s language on users’ “throughput” that “may be limited, varied or reduced” simply refers to standard network management techniques during peak hours and does not discriminate against some users’ connections based on their plans.

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