Just like other carriers, Sprint has begun to remove advantages to their existing and new customers. They have announced they will be ending the Premier program for all new and existing customers.
For those unaware, the Sprint program was a tiered incentive based on gold and silver levels. Premier Silver customer received 25% off in-store accessory discounts of 2 or more, and anniversary gifts of either 75 bonus talk minutes or $5 service credit. The Gold level customers of the premier program received all the perks that silver members did with the added benefit of full promotional discounts on handset after just 1-YR of service rather than the standard 2-YR commitments. Sprint customers will be to take advantage of the existing Premier benefits until 12/31/2011. Those customer under the Gold level will be able to participate in the annual upgrade policy until the end of next year, 12/31/2012.
That is not all folks! In addition to all that, Sprint will also be cutting their existing return policy from 30 days to 14. A similar move made by Verizon Wireless when they were close to release the iPhone 4. Could this be a preemptive move from Sprint in anticipation of an imminent Sprint branded iPhone release. But to go one step further to aggravate and turn away potential new customers Sprint will also be axing their “Worry Free Guarantee” program that allowed customers who were unhappy with their service or phone within 30 days to return everything and not worry about activation fee, service charges, or any other related charges. They will not be using this guarantee within the new 14 day time period either.
Sprint has pulled the ultimate “bait & switch” here as they only enacted some of these incentives just a few years ago. But this is how the market goes when there is little to no competition. If 4 big carriers is not enough than imagine what 3 might look like. We miss the good old days when there was AT&T, Cingular, Nextel, Verizon Wireless, Alltel, Sprint, and T-Mobile. Back then we had 7 big national carriers who helped to level the field. We need that structure more now than we did back then based on the proliferation of smartphones and data usage. The mergers with between AT&T-Cingular and Sprint-Nextel were the earlier beginnings of bad things to come and we should have known better.