Sprint Aims To Poach AT&T, Verizon Users with Half-Price Plans
Wireless carrier Sprint is launching an aggressive pricing strategy aimed at pulling wireless customers away from Verizon and AT&T. Under a program that kicks off Friday, Sprint is offering to cut in half the monthly rates paid by customers currently with those competing carriers.
And it appears Sprint's offer is not just a come-on gimmick. Those half-off rates are "not just a promotion. This will be the customer's ongoing price," according to Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure.
Currently the third-largest mobile carrier in the U.S., Sprint's market share has dwindled to 7.2 percent of all wireless customers (both pre-paid and post-paid). It has also ranked at the bottom in terms of customer satisfaction, coming in behind Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T in the last two years of ratings by Consumer Reports.
Pre-Paid Visa Card Offer
Under Sprint's "Cut Your Bill in Half Event," announced today, Verizon and AT&T customers who upload copies of their current wireless bills will be able to get comparable Sprint plans for half the price. Customers who make the switch will receive unlimited talk and text, as well as data plans that most closely match the ones they currently have with those competing carriers.
Sprint is also offering prepaid Visa cards to Verizon and AT&T customers who are charged an early termination fee or installment bill balance upon switching carriers. Qualifying customers are eligible for up to $350 per line.
The half-price offer comes with several caveats. Customers who make the switch can lease or buy new phones from Sprint, but those who don't turn in competitors' phones within 30 days will be assessed a non-return fee of $200 per line. Uploaded competitors' bills must also be in English only, although Sprint will accept Spanish-language bills at its retail outlets.
Staff Cuts and Rebranding
Sprint also noted that the half-price offer applies only to Verizon and AT&T customers with monthly rates of at least $10, not including "certain charges such as taxes, surcharges, add-ons, apps, premium content, int'l services, devices, partial charges or add'l lines." The company also reserved the right to provide prioritized bandwidth or limit throughput "to improve data experience for the majority of users."
Faced with declining market share, Sprint has undertaken several measures recently aimed at boosting its business position. In early November, it reported an operating loss of $192 million for the second quarter of 2013 and also announced a rebranding effort as the "Best Value in Wireless."
In addition to launching a management review to "grow its leadership talent," Sprint last month unveiled plans to reduce around 2,000 positions. The cuts are expected to save the company approximately $400 million a year in labor costs.