Sprint, the #3 carrier in the US, is rumoured to be changing it’s discount rules as they apply to Family and Business shared accounts. Currently if you are on one of the Family or Business accounts with shared minutes, and you have a discount applied to the account, you are getting that discount applied to just the first two lines with the 2nd line being part of the plan itself and each additional line is $19.99 with no discount up to 5 lines. According to a leak shared with SprintFeed, that is ending February 1, 2012.
The changes are that the discounts will no longer be applied to the second line and where things get tricky. Sprint will move the $19.99 additional line fee for Line #2, which evidently they’re saying is rolled into the monthly rate-plan cost, out into it’s own fee and applying the discount to Line #1 only. Your monthly bill will see an increase as a result. We’ll go into detail on what you can expect after the break.
Here’s an example of what your bill looks like today (pre Feb 1, 2012) with a sample 10% discount:
Everything Data Share 1500
Primary MRC – $129.99
10% Discount – ($13.00)
Line 2 – $0
TOTAL – $116.99
After Feb 1, 2012:
Everything Data Share 1500
Primary MRC – $110.00
10% Discount – ($11.00)
Line 2 – $19.99
TOTAL – $118.99
According to the leaked document, Sprint states:
This change brings us in line with AT&T and Verizon, which do not discount line 2 of share plans. Only Sprint discounts the bundle of messaging, data and voice.
While it is obvious this is intended to bring in additional revenue wherever possible, it does represent a material breach of the contract, i.e. Terms of Service, that you signed with Sprint as a postpaid (contracted) customer. Because of this breach, you can get out of your contract without paying the ETF (Early Termination Fee). The ToS states that they have the right to change the Agreement at any time, but also that you have certain rights as a result of those changes. Here is the specific clause from the ToS (emphasis is Sprint’s):
Our Right To Change The Agreement & Your Related Rights
We may change any part of the Agreement at any time, including, but not limited to, rates, charges, how we calculate charges, discounts, coverage, technologies used to provide services, or your terms of Service. We will provide you notice of material changes—and we may provide you notice of non-material changes—in a manner consistent with this Agreement (see “Providing Notice To Each Other Under The Agreement” section). If a change we make to the Agreement is material and has a material adverse effect on Services under your Term Commitment, you may terminate each line of Service materially affected without incurring an Early Termination Fee only if you: (a) call us within 30 days after the effective date of the change; and (b) specifically advise us that you wish to cancel Services because of a material change to the Agreement that we have made. If you do not cancel Service within 30 days of the change, an Early Termination Fee will apply if you terminate Services before the end of any applicable Term Commitment.
You have 30 days after the effective date of the change in which to cancel as a result of the change. If you do decide to cancel, be wary of the uninformed Customer Care associate who is not familiar with the ToS (and very few are) as they will attempt to say this change does not allow you to cancel without the ETF. However, here is the key phrase to keep in your arsenal: “If a change we make to the Agreement is material and has a material adverse effect.“
This change is obviously material and the adverse effect is as it relates to you. They cannot tell you that this is not adversely effecting you as you are paying the bill, not them. They further provide you with the terminology to use when contact Customer Care: “specifically advise us that you wish to cancel Services because of a material change to the Agreement that we have made.“
As more information comes into focus with this be sure we’ll keep you updated.