Sprint Changes 'Unlimited' Broadband To 5 Gigs... While Still Advertising Unlimited Broadband

from the that's-not-unlimited dept

I've actually been one of the few satisfied Sprint customers for many years. Over the past few years, they were the only mobile broadband provider who didn't limit mobile broadband to ridiculously low plans like 5 gigs per month, like other carriers. In fact, this was a key selling point, and one of the reasons why I happily stuck it out with Sprint. I know Wall St. analysts have been insisting that Sprint would need to cap such broadband usage at some point, but it seemed like a really short-sighted idea, since the unlimited broadband is really about the only facet of a Sprint account that makes it more appealing than its competitors. And so... of course... it appears to be going away. Here's the email I recently received concerning my "phone as modem" option, which I use often enough:

Basically, with no warning, effective immediately, Sprint has unilaterally changed our deal from one where I was paying for unlimited data via the phone as a modem -- to one where it's capped at a stupidly low 5GB. And, the company even has the gall to then happily tell me (below the screenshot cut off) that this change won't impact how much I pay -- as if I should have expected them to increase the fees while taking away a feature I like.

Considering that unlimited mobile broadband was not only part of the marketing pitch, but also a big part of the reason for why I signed up for the plan I did, this certainly seems like a bait-and-switch deal... and I'd thought that bait-and-switch deals like this were violations of FTC rules, but what do I know?

Of course, on a whim, I wondered if Sprint's marketing had changed... and I did a quick search on "Sprint unlimited broadband" and turned up the following advertisement:

If you can't see it clearly -- it appears Sprint is still advertising unlimited mobile broadband -- highlighting that you can "avoid the data dilemma" and "get truly Unlimited data." Except, um, that's clearly not the case. Changing your plans unilaterally for those who specifically signed up for unlimited broadband is one thing. But continuing to advertise such plans while limiting them and -- even worse, effectively mocking such limited plans -- is simply adding rather obnoxious insult to injury. Sorry Sprint, but you may have finally convinced me it's time to explore other options.

Filed Under: advertising, bait and switch, broadband, data caps, ftc, wireless
Companies: sprint

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  1. identicon
    DogBreath, 5 Jun 2012 @ 11:07am

    Re: Slightly inaccurate

    These are separate plans/features.

    i.e. - more ways to stick it to you for using the bytes in the way you want to, and that you already paid for in your original contract.

    p.s. and as for this only applying to "data caps are for the mobile hot spot/use your phone as a modem option" now, just wait. It will apply to all your other data in the future too. Businesses don't screw all of their customers at once, that's bad for their profit margin. They only screw them a little at a time and hope they don't notice as much.

    On a sidenote, and as usual, AT&T will again be at the head of the pack on the screwing:

    No more cell phone minutes? AT&T expects data-only plans in two years
    Jun 1, 2012

    AT&T's chief executive expects the industry to offer data-only cell phone plans within two years, potentially replacing cell phone minutes and text message counts with a single counter logging megabytes and gigabytes.

    "In such a scenario, phone calls would be considered just another form of data," the Associated Press notes in a recap of AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson's remarks Friday morning in a New York conference hosted by investment firm Bernstein Global Wealth Management.

    Already, services like Skype are replacing some traditional voice calls, and services like iMessage are replacing some text messaging. The AP notes that "phone companies still make most of their money from calling plans and texting, which use very little data." The trend of carriers moving from unlimited plans to data caps isn't a good one for customers, but whether moving to a data-only model would help or hurt consumers is hard to say until actual pricing and plans are revealed.

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