Monday, May 22, 2006

Sprint PCS Total Equipment Protection: The Great Rip-Off

As some of you know, I was recently involved in an altercation with my old cell phone. My phone and I had it out, and I, being the superior life form, beat the living crap out of it. Unfortunately, my means of communication with friends, family, and various other scum and villainy no longer existed in a usable state.

Lucky me, I thought, for I was a subscriber to Sprint PCS' Total Equipment Protection plan. A new phone is a mere phone call away.

I won't lie. The service I received from Sprint (or the company that runs Sprint's insurance program... lock-line, I believe) was exemplary. I called, paid a $50 deposit, and the phone showed up in three or four business days. I sent out emails and MySpace bulletins to get everyone's phone numbers and, bingo, I'm good to go.

Which is when I started thinking... what the Hell was I paying $6 a month for? So Sprint and lock-line could rip me off every time I needed a new phone?

For those of you slow on the uptake, follow this:

I bought my then current phone (itself a replacement) in October of 2003 for about $120 to $130. I received its replacement (a used phone, of the exact same model) in May of 2006 (this month, obviously) for a "replacement deposit" of $50. Back then I believe that the fee for Sprint's Total Equipment Replacement was only $4 per month, but since it's $6 now, let's use that figure. Anyway, $6 per month for 31 months. That equals $186. Add the monthly fees to the "replacement deposit," and I spent $236 on a used, refurbished phone. A phone that, if bought used or on display at your local Best Buy, only costs $40 to $50 itself. What the fuck?

Okay, okay... say I broke the phone within, say, three months of buying it? Is it still a rip-off then? Well, that would equal $68 for a replacement phone. Sprint stores themselves, by the way, sell fantastic low-end phones for less than $70. Why go through the hassle of getting a used phone (one that isn't even guaranteed to be the same model), when I can drive my happy ass down to the Sprint store and get ANOTHER BRAND NEW PHONE for LESS THAN what the insurance is going to cost?

To make a long story short: Sprint PCS Total Equipment Protection is a RIP-OFF no matter how you look at it. What's worse is that they try to sell it as some sort of "exclusive club" by limiting when you can add the plan to your phone (within 30 days of activation). Not only that, if you try to get rid of it, they try to scare you into keeping it by telling you that you'll never again qualify to have it. GOOD FUCKING RIDDANCE.

I'm all for capitalism, but Sprint's phone replacement system is total and utter bullshit.

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