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Changes to the BYOD program: The good, the bad and the ugly

UPDATE 3: Progress! More than 30 million devices that would previously have failed Sprint’s financial eligibility date (FED) check will now pass.

Now, devices that were freed from a contract due to a hardware upgrade (that is to say, you got a new a new phone on the same contract) will clear the FED check. Likewise, with the exception of the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C, any device that was activated 12 or more months ago, regardless of whether it’s currently active, will clear. This applies to devices associated with postpaid accounts only.

If you tried to bring your device to Ting previously but failed due to FED, please try again.

UPDATE 2: We’ve put together a program to make it right for people who are caught on the wrong side of Sprint’s Financial Eligibility Check (FEC). All the details are in this blog post: Offer for customers who bought a device that has failed the financial eligibility check.

UPDATE: Sprint’s Financial Eligibility Check (FEC) that runs prior to a device being activated with an MVNO like Ting, has been very poorly implemented. Customers of MVNOs are the ones bearing the brunt of this poor implementation. We are very sorry.

Just because your device is being rejected right now doesn’t mean it can never be activated on Ting. You may just seeing the effect of this poor implementation. Even some devices purchased unlocked, directly from the manufacturer (e.g some Nexus 5 and 6, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Moto X / G etc. devices) are coming back as being “financially ineligible” from Sprint. They are, quite obviously, not financially ineligible as they weren’t purchased from Sprint.

Because of the poor implementation of this new Sprint program, we’re not seeing data which would help us to determine which of these FEC rejections are valid catches of devices that do, in fact, still have some kind of financial obligation to Sprint, and which are being erroneously flagged despite the fact that Sprint has no claim on them.

We’re chasing down all the information we can get our hands on and we’ll keep this blog post updated with the latest news as we get it.

Until recently, the Ting BYOD program has been limited to devices that are Sprint compatible and that Sprint has had in the market for over a year. Today, all of that changed. Spurred on by the new industry unlocking rules we discussed last week, Sprint changed their policy. Now, there are fewer limitations on which devices can be brought to an MVNO that uses the Sprint network, like Ting.

Under the new BYOD rules, the only requirements are that the device being brought to Ting be Sprint network compatible and also be in good financial standing with Sprint. That is to say, fully paid for, not reported lost or stolen and not tied to an account with an outstanding balance.

It’s a much more sensible system all things considered.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that some devices that previously would have had no trouble coming to Ting are now being blocked from making the move, basically because the owner hasn’t paid his or her final bill… most likely because they haven’t actually received that final bill. Yeah.

As it stands, if you bought a Sprint device on a contract, you will have to settle up your bill or any other outstanding balance with Sprint before we can activate the device on Ting. Until your final bill is paid in full, Sprint will block your device from being reactivated. This complicates things if you’re looking to move your Sprint device to Ting at the same time you move your Sprint number to Ting. It’s a classic (very annoying) catch 22.

This change happened quickly. As it stands, it looks like even devices purchased directly from Google Play or the Apple Store may be affected. There is impact on all Sprint device activations. This is a bug and we’re working hard on a fix. To be frank, we are going to be playing some catchup for the next couple of weeks. In light of this new Sprint policy, there are a few things we want to reinforce.

1. Only trust the official Ting ESN checker: If you’re shopping for a device via a third party like Glyde, Swappa, eBay, Amazon or elsewhere, you should run the ESN through our BYOD checker prior to purchasing. ESN checkers other than ours are not likely set up to see a device’s Financial Eligibility status. For that reason, we strongly suggest you only trust the results you receive from ours.

2. Don’t deactivate your Ting devices without talking to us first: These new changes will not affect a device that is “financially ineligible” but already active. That is to say, your phone won’t suddenly stop working if your device was once tied to an account that now owes Sprint a few bucks.

However, and this is the ugly part…

We strongly urge our customers not to interrupt their devices’ active state for the time being. There is a chance that only by deactivating your device would you / we learn that it is considered by Sprint to be “financially ineligible,” i.e. is connected in some way to an account that owes Sprint some money. If a device is considered “financially ineligible” by Sprint, they will block any attempt to reactivate it until any outstanding balance is cleared.

Our agents will be able to check to ensure your device is considered to be in good financial standing with Sprint before you try to port in a new number to an active device, assign a new number to an active device or otherwise swap numbers on devices in your account. All of these actions require deactivating and reactivating your device.

If you have questions or comments, please feel free to share in the comments below. We will update this post as new information becomes available.