Friday, July 11, 2008

Customer service vs. totally freakin' awesome

Two posts ago I wrote about how good Sprint has treated me. Today the iPhone 3G came out.

I'm seriously considering purchasing one.

Yes, that would mean going to AT&T (unless I unlocked the phone, but then I don't think it would work with iTunes and as such all those spiffy new apps wouldn't work) which would mean having to cancel my Sprint contract for a hefty fee. However, the new iPhone is subsidized by AT&T so it no longer carries the $599 price tag; it carries a shiny new $199 price tag.

This drop in cost isn't without repercussions. The iPhone service plans now cost $10 more, but that translates into about 3 years worth of service before the price difference matches the original $599. That's not too shabby.

I just did some searches online for the actual cost of my cancellation fee from Sprint. Looks like it'd be about $150, which is roughly 3 months of service. Now, I can get Sprint to cancel my contract for me by having 50% or more of my minutes each month be roaming for 3 consecutive months. This is because at that point I'm costing them more than I'm paying them and so they cancel the contract. This is, after all, a market interaction. If I'm not profitable for them, they'll ditch me.

After looking over the details of my plan I see that roaming is included in my plan at no extra cost and this has been confirmed after call Sprint's customer service, who were once again exemplary. Now, my phone has a nifty little option called "roaming only." Why anyone would program such a feature into a phone in the first place is beyond me. This option literally says "don't use the normal network, just those that other companies own." Seriously, what's the purpose of that option existing at all? By simply selecting that option I can make it so my phone will only select roaming towers and as such build up my roaming minutes. This means that all my calls and all operations done on my phone will be racking up those roaming minutes. In 3 months I'll be out of my contract.

Of course, anyone decent at mathematics can do a little basic multiplication and realize that $45 a month (my regular rate) times 3 months is $135, while a $150 cancellation fee is only a few dollars more and becomes active immediately; that means I could get an iPhone all the sooner. The issue is that with the early cancellation I'd still owe this month's bill, which would tack on another $45. So that means that early cancellation option is now $195 and the "roaming to cancel" option is still only $135.

Plus at the moment I can't afford the $199 for the iPhone, so a few months would give me time to save up, pay off some more bills, and probably have a better chance of getting one since I'm pretty sure they're sold out right now.

I might still stop at Simply Mac on the way home. For ... fun.

EDIT: For the record, using roaming more is not wholly illogical for me at the moment. At home I get 0-1 bars of reception; while roaming I get 4-5. It really does make sense to use roaming because I get better, more reliable service.

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