Considering a Cell Phone Change

by Kevin on February 14, 2008

Thanks to Five Cent Nickle I am considering a change in cell phone providers. Apparently Sprint is hemorrhaging customers like there is no tomorrow. You may have read recently they are laying off thousands of employees in Kansas City where they are headquartered. I’m not sure if this is the cause for a new program that are running, but I like it.

The program is the employee referral program. You can find it at Sprint.com/sero. Five Cent Nickle (linked above) goes into details of how to use the program, but long story short:

  • 500 minutes, unlimited web/data transfer, unlimited picture mail, free nights and weekends starting at 7pm, for $30.
  • 1,250 minutes, everything else the same for $49.99.
  • 2,500 minutes, everything else the same for $99.99.

In short, this is an incredibly good deal. We currently use Verizon on a Family share plan. Two lines, 700 shared minutes, no messaging, no data, no web… for $69.99. I get a discount through work that leaves our cost around $69 after all of the fees and taxes. Now I am a simple guy. I’ve always said unless my work was paying for any extras, then I just wanted a phone. I don’t need text messaging. Just give me the ability to call someone. Pretty simple.

However, I have secretly pined for a Blackberry or PDA phone. I’m a technology geek at heart. Being able to keep up with e-mail from my phone would be awesome. Overkill? Yes. Awesome? Yes. I wouldn’t be getting on the program solely for the geek inside me. I use e-mail extensively for business so it would have a benefit there.

I could never justify the cost. Verizon’s plans start at $79.99 for 450 minutes, and you can’t share the line with a regular phone (at least, I don’t think you can). If you get Blackberry service it is usually $20-40 more per month on any provider (including this Sprint SERO deal). I can’t justify that cost.

Now Sprint comes along with this deal and I am tempted. Since I would get a non-Blackberry phone, I avoid the $40/month charge for Blackberry service. I’m never one to just jump at the next opportunity, gadget, or “thing”. I’m not an impulse buyer. I am going to start doing my research and hope that this deal doesn’t go away in the mean time. Issues I need to think about:

  • How many total minutes we use per month, including “in-network” to each other and our parents. This will help identify how many minutes we would each need per month.
  • We would need to get out of our Verizon contract without the Early Termination Fee ($175). Luckily, there is a way to do this until early March (have I mentioned I love Consumerist.com?)
  • My parents are on Verizon, her parents are on Sprint. Should we both get new Sprint plans? Should I jump to Sprint and she stay with a Verizon plan? We love Verizon and have used them for years, but as I mentioned the cost for their plans is too high for this sort of thing. Sprint’s coverage is definitely worse than Verizon’s. This is a big issue for us.
  • Final cost of two individual plans, regardless of provider. I’m guessing the Sprint plan after taxes and fees would be close to $36-4 per line. If she got a Sprint plan that was similar, we’re looking at $72-80 per month. More than we have paid in the past, but with a lot more bells and whistles.
  • What we could sell our two phones for on eBay or other phone selling websites. I discussed selling phones on my last website.

What would you do if you were in my shoes? Keep in mind we are debt-free other than our mortgage and my MBA loans in deferral. We have a healthy cash flow at the end of every month, too. I wouldn’t recommend buying a new plan to someone that was trying to get out of debt. That isn’t us, so I am considering it.

{ 1 comment }

Leigh February 14, 2008 at 8:57 pm

I am a current Sprint customer and we have 3 lines. The second and third lines only cost an extra 10.00 a month. I wonder if you can get that deal with that package? If so then I say switch!

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