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  1.    #1  
    I recently called Sprint to work through a billing problem and while I was on the phone I asked if there was a newer plan I could switch to that might save me some money based on my current usage patterns. She said yes but that I would need to commit to a new 2-year agreement. No thanks. Later I started looking around online at the various providers, deals at Amazon.com, etc. and it looks like the 2-year commitments are being forced now. It used to be that you could get a great deal on a phone via Amazon and get some of the Amazon-exclusive rebates without committing long-term (usually there were additional provider rebates which did require a commitment, but even those only required a 1-year commitment). Now I'm not even seeing the possibility of a 1-year agreement mentioned in the fine print.

    Anyone have any recent experience or insider info on which providers still allow you to sign up with a new plan either with no commitment or with just a 1-year commitment? If they're all forcing 2-year contracts now, that seems absolutely ridiculous. I really think the government should step in. Otherwise, I guess I'll need to be reading the fine print to find out what each provider charges as a penalty for breaking the contract early and start factoring that in whenever I go phone shopping.
    Now THIS is the future of smartphones.
  2. #2  
    I've seen both Verizon and Sprint offer 1 year contracts. However you pay extra for your phone if you do this. This has also only been the case for new service.

    Prepaid phones seem to be the way to get around this. However you pay a higher rate this way. What the companies are doing is trying to maintain the cost of customer acquisition. Keeping customers is a lot cheaper than converting new ones. The two year contract is a way to lock in customers for a minimum period of time. They make money for billing you for service, not on the phones. That's why you always get a better deal on a phone with a two year contract.

    LG VX9800
    Motorola HS-850
    Linksys USBBT100
    Mobile Crossing BT GPS

    (R.I.P.)
    VZW Treo 650
    Treo Side Case
  3. #3  
    It's not like early termination is the worst thing in the world. Usually, you get about a $150 discount for signing the contract, and then have to pay $150 for early termination.
    Palm V-->Visor Deluxe-->Visor Prism-->Visorphone-->Treo 180-->Treo 600-->Treo 650 on Sprint-->Treo 700p-->Centro-->Diamond-->Pre-->HTC EVO 4g???!
  4. #4  
    While that's true, most people are not going to see it that way. They have long forgotten the $150 that they didn't have to pay at sign up, and they feel like they are getting screwed.

    LG VX9800
    Motorola HS-850
    Linksys USBBT100
    Mobile Crossing BT GPS

    (R.I.P.)
    VZW Treo 650
    Treo Side Case
  5.    #5  
    Quote Originally Posted by pheath
    I've seen both Verizon and Sprint offer 1 year contracts. However you pay extra for your phone if you do this. This has also only been the case for new service.
    But I'm not seeing the possibility of a 1-year contract even mentioned in the fine print. Going through the order process here at treocentral.com's store shows 2-year as a standard inclusion with no option to change it. I believe the same is true at Amazon now. Perhaps purchasing at a store provides more options, but then you're typically paying a good deal more than if you were to buy online.
    Now THIS is the future of smartphones.
  6. #6  
    Sprint seems to have made this more difficult. You have to call them to get it. However, if you go to Verizon's web site, you can get a treo with either a 1 or 2 year contract.

    LG VX9800
    Motorola HS-850
    Linksys USBBT100
    Mobile Crossing BT GPS

    (R.I.P.)
    VZW Treo 650
    Treo Side Case
  7. #7  
    When I wanted to add a phone to my Sprint account, I was quoted a price of $9.99 /month plus a free phone with a 2-year extention of my contract. When I said I didn't need a new phone (I had a new Sprint phone I received from a friend) the price went up to $19.99/month with no extention. The $9.99 was not valid without the 2-year extention.
  8. #8  
    This isn't relevant for CDMA, but T-Mobile contracts (all or nearly all) are one-year.

    I recently switched from T-Mobile to Sprint and signed a two year contract; I wouldn't have done this if the 650 were directly available from T-Mobile.
  9. #9  
    I think it's simple economics:

    1. Cell phone plans are getting cheaper.
    2. The upfront cellphone subsidy is staying the same or going up a bit.
    3. The cost to acquire new customers isn't going down (it may even be going up.)
    4. With number portability, there's virtually no barrier to switching carriers other than the comittment period.

    Since they can't raise rates (#1), carriers make committment periods longer and longer to make sure that the amount they get from a customer is more than they spend for #2 and #3.
  10.    #10  
    Oh, I'm not surprised that they're trying to force people into 2-year contracts, I guess I'm just surprised that it's taken hold to the point where at least some of them seem to be offering *only* 2-year contracts now. I remember posting in the forums here when the Treo 650 first came out that I thought it was silly for people to commit to a 2-year contract when for only $50 more you could commit to just a 1-year. It seems that people have been buying into these 2-year contracts enough to allow Sprint to justify dropping the 1-year option altogether. That's a loss for consumers.

    And today I went poking around at some of the current rebate offers and I see that its now common practice for the fine print of these rebates to require you to wait 6 months before you mail it in, but you also need to mail it in before the 7th month (or something like that). That's going way too far, IMO, and I think the government needs to step in on some of this nonsense.

    On a positive note...I saw mention on techbargains.com of CompUSA's upcoming Wednesday 6pm-midnight sale. The flyer showed a Sprint Treo 650 for $99 where most of those rebates were instant rebates, with only a $50 mail-in rebate remaining (and I'd bet that it's a rebate that can be mailed in immediately). The fine print did indicate that it required a 2-year contract, so that still sucked. But if you factor in the $150 (or whatever it is) early termination fee, that's still a good deal on a 650.
    Now THIS is the future of smartphones.
  11. #11  
    The government does *not* need to step in. If people don't like the terms and conditions, then don't sign up! No one is doing anything illegal. We have no inherent right to 1 year contacts. It has already been pointed out that T Mobile has 1 year contracts. If it's that big of a deal, T Mobile will become the largest carrier.

    LG VX9800
    Motorola HS-850
    Linksys USBBT100
    Mobile Crossing BT GPS

    (R.I.P.)
    VZW Treo 650
    Treo Side Case
  12. #12  
    I believe I also mentioned already that Verizon still has 1 year contracts. Get over it!

    LG VX9800
    Motorola HS-850
    Linksys USBBT100
    Mobile Crossing BT GPS

    (R.I.P.)
    VZW Treo 650
    Treo Side Case
  13.    #13  
    Well I won't get over it completely because I prefer Sprint, but I think that a 2-year contract requirement is excessive. But I can deal with it because once you factor in other costs (e.g., Sprint's $10 unlimited data plan vs Verizon's high-priced unlimited data plan), Sprint probably still comes ahead in terms of overall value. Nevertheless, I still think it's a disappointing change from a consumer perspective.
    Now THIS is the future of smartphones.
  14. #14  
    That's fine that you are disappointed. Just don't go calling for the government because you aren't happy with the market forces.

    LG VX9800
    Motorola HS-850
    Linksys USBBT100
    Mobile Crossing BT GPS

    (R.I.P.)
    VZW Treo 650
    Treo Side Case
  15.    #15  
    And why not? That's why we have the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection.
    Now THIS is the future of smartphones.
  16. #16  
    So what is your legal claim beyond the fact that you don't like it?

    LG VX9800
    Motorola HS-850
    Linksys USBBT100
    Mobile Crossing BT GPS

    (R.I.P.)
    VZW Treo 650
    Treo Side Case
  17. pump142's Avatar
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    #17  
    paying more for a shorter contract at the start seems better for me for 1 reason.
    If you are 1 year into a 2 year contract, no phone discount for you. If you are 1 year into a 1 year contract then you can get the new phone you want at a discount (all be it less of a discount) but you can do this more often.
    They get you either way, I just like the freedom to upgrade when I want not when they say its ok.
  18.    #18  
    Here's a good article on the subject. pheath, ultimately it's up to the government to step in if deceptive or unfair practices are being used. They've done it before and it's a necessary part of the process (which I think isn't employed enough, and you obviously feel the opposite about). Just "leaving it up to the market to sort it out" doesn't always work and, IMO, has led to all sorts of problems in this country, including the momentum of outsourcing jobs to cheap labor markets. CEOs want to please their shareholders and shareholders (and CEOs) are increasingly only concerned with short-term profits. Meanwhile, consumers too are increasingly concerned only with the "out the door" low price and don't think about the longer-term implications.

    Getting back on topic...whether or not the shift to 2-year commitments warrants government intervention is debatable and I'd be interested to hear what other people think about it, since everyone here now has a pretty good idea of where the two of us stand.
    Now THIS is the future of smartphones.
  19. #19  
    I'll have to admit not being familiar with contracts outside of Verizon, but I have never been confused about the length of the contract I am signing or the penalty of breaking said contract. I think that people miss the fundamental point that you are signing a *contract*. This is not something to be entered into lightly although that is exactly what most people do. The carriers have measures in place to extend/amend the terms if you need more minutes. Actually, Verizon let's you change your minutes without changing the term.

    Most carriers have a 14 day trial period where you can dump everything if you decide you don't like it. So the article you reference is just wrong.


    "Mr. Government, I was dumb and lazy so I didn't pay attention to what I was signing. Please come save me from my gross stupidity." People need to grow up and take responsibility or their actions. Perhaps what the government needs to do is require people to wait in the store for a minimum of 30 minutes where they are required to read the contract and ask any questions they might have.

    LG VX9800
    Motorola HS-850
    Linksys USBBT100
    Mobile Crossing BT GPS

    (R.I.P.)
    VZW Treo 650
    Treo Side Case
  20.    #20  
    I know the terms before I enter into a contract. But it doesn't change the fact that many companies deliberately try to obfuscate things, put the *FREE* in big bold text and hide the fact that you'll need to wait six months before getting your big rebate back (and only if you jump through various hoops). I don't see anything wrong with the government stepping in to enforce reasonable behavior.

    So getting back to the 2-year contract issue specifically...should the government force them to also allow 1-year contracts? I'd like that, sure. And no, I don't expect Sprint to have to give the same big rebate amount. I think it's perfectly fine for them to provide an added incentive for people to commit to two years. But I might also be content if they didn't allow for 1-year contracts but had to make it extra clear up-front (instead of hiding it in the smaller print). There's a reason why they state it in a smaller font: More people would think twice about it. And the more people (yes, those "dumb and lazy" people who ought to be reading the fine print now, but don't) who think twice about it, the more consumers who will go elsewhere. And the more that happens, the better the odds that Sprint will change their minds about forcing people into 2-year contracts. And *that's* when it works to "let the market decide." IOW, it requires both choices *and* educated consumers.
    Now THIS is the future of smartphones.
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