When a deal is a deal, there has to be some sort of catch to it, right? Well, Sprint just turned the industry on its ear yesterday with the announcement of their new Family share plan. In a nutshell, you get up to 10 lines, with 2GB of data each, and an additional 20GB of shared data for only $100 a month through 2015. Yes, that is $100 for 10 lines, making the initial cost per line only $10. So, why is this deal way too good to be true? One only needs to look at the fine print to see what the actual cost of the plan is and how Sprint makes a decent deal look like a great one.
First up, devices aren’t included in this plan. That means on average, you will either need to spend $5000 to outfit your group with phones, or you will need to enter into a device payment plan at about $25 a month for most devices. This will increase your bill up to $350 right off the bat. Even with this though, your $35 a month bill is quite exceptional. Of course, there’s another issue with the pricing structure. The access fee of $15 a line is only covered through 2015, which means in month 15, your bill will suffer from $150 in sticker shock when that charge is added back in. This brings the total bill due to $500 a month for this $100 plan.
Second, people have to consider the Sprint network in their location. We have been fortunate enough to have Wichita, Philadelphia and Seattle as test markets. Frankly, the service is spectacular in all three locations. With the LTE rollout just finishing up in the Seattle area, Sprint has a pretty good foothold where we live and work. This may not be the case in your neighborhood. If you are coming off of Verizon and moving to Sprint, the cash you save in the short term may not be worth the frustration of dropping calls, slower data speeds and overall lower-quality service that you may experience at Sprint.
Finally, the magical “ETF payment” that they are running out there is worded very strangely on their website. The exact wording is, “Sprint will buy out their families’ contracts with a Visa Prepaid Card worth up to $350.” Now the notation on the site says that it is only valid on users switching to the 20GB deal, and that is fine. What isn’t stated is that the buy out is PER LINE or total. We can assume that they will cover 5 lines coming in, but that will mean surrendering your iPhone 5s that you can sell for $400 anyways, so call that one a wash.
Overall, Sprint threw a great marketing plan out to the public here. Hopefully people read the fine print well and don’t panic when their bill goes up 500% in 2016. Yes, that is 500% after taxes and fees. With Washington taxes added in, a total Sprint bill in January of 2016 is going to run $605. This will continue until August of 2016 and cost a total of $9075 over 24 months. This makes the monthly cost, with everything built in, $37.81 a month. If you have 10 people to bring along, even with the fine print and sticker shock at the end of the term, Sprint’s new deal is a really great price, provided you live in a strong coverage area.