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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.

An unlocked phone means more phone freedom

unlocked phone

New rules provide new freedoms for your unlocked phone

New carrier rules dealing with locking and unlocking phones come into full effect today.

In short: Going forward, unless a phone is connected in some way to an account that owes the carrier money, said carrier will unlock the phone if asked to do so. Carriers have the option to do so automatically as soon as a contract term is fulfilled, but we won’t hold our breath for that.

For prepaid carriers, the carrier must allow a device to be unlocked one year after it was first activated.

It’s called the Consumer Code for Wireless Service and February 11, 2015 was the deadline for full carrier compliance.

It wouldn’t be difficult to argue that these new unlocked phone rules don’t go far enough or that they only came about because the other option was looking like regulation. Still, it’s a real win for consumers.

Why Ting on a GSM network is kind of a big deal

We’ll be hosting a Ting hangout tomorrow, Thursday, December 11 2014 at 3pm ET to discuss the GSM announcement and other exciting stuff. That’s 1500 hours for the more militaristic among us.

Turns out, not everyone is interested in reading a big dissertation on Ting adding service on a GSM network in February of 2015.

I know!

The best place to keep up to date with (and maybe secure a spot in an early beta) is on the Ting on a GSM network email list. Sign up after the jump, at the bottom of this blog post.

Now, with none of the nuance or arguably enjoyable turns of phrase (and without our epic Ting GSM SIM video embedded) here are the Ting on a GSM network bullet points:

Five reasons never to accept a “free” or cheap phone

PrintMaybe we should warn adults about the dangers of taking free phones from corporate entities like we warn kids about taking candy from strangers.

First, the painful truth: “free” smartphones are anything but. Deeply discounted smartphones purchased from a cell phone carrier may look good at first blush. Ultimately though, over the course of a two-year term, it’s a more expensive way to get a phone.

You’re much better buying your phone outright, either from a carrier that doesn’t “lock” phones (i.e., not one of the “big four” carriers in the US) or from a retail store. Ask specifically for unlocked devices and you’ll then have your choice of which carrier you choose to accept service from.

Let’s just reiterate that: Which carrier you choose to accept service from. With an unlocked phone, you’re in the power position, not the carrier.

The average Ting customer has saved $37.57 per device a month

Welcome to the latest edition of:
“How Many Freaking Ways Can I Articulate How Much Money People Save With Ting?!”

A couple of months ago, we created a little form for Ting customers to answer two simple questions:
– What was your bill before you came to Ting?
– How many devices did you have on your account?

So far, only about 4% of our customers have answered. That’s not nearly enough yet to do all the fun stuff we’d like to do with this information. (I’ll elaborate.) But it is more than enough to draw some statistically significant conclusions on the aggregate. And here’s the big one:

The average Ting customer has saved $37.57 per device a month on their bill versus their previous plan.

We have already revealed how little Ting customers pay. I love this data because it goes one step further, addressing any suspicion that maybe our customers never paid much even before they came to Ting. (Maybe they didn’t have friends. Or fingers!) They did. They paid $37.57 more a month per device.

I also love it because it highlights just how easy it is to cover the upfront cost of a device with these savings. It’s $900 over two years. Even if were comparing this to a contract plan that requires $0 down on a phone. Even if you just threw your old phone in the garbage. That can buy you any device on the planet.

Now, for Ting customers, there’s so much more I’d like to do with this data on an individual level.

– We can have leaderboards and contests (like the aforementioned Game of Phones) and give out prizes
– We can offer insights or suggestions if you are not saving much money with Ting
– We can help you sweep monthly savings into interest bearing accounts or charitable donations

But we need for more people to play along. So, if you have not already done so, please take a few seconds to fill in the data. (You need to be logged into your account.)  Thanks. Now get back to your saving.

Breaking news: iPhone 5’s just as good as they were two days ago

jordanWhen I was buying basketball shoes in my early twenties, I always asked the staff at Foot Locker for last year’s Air Jordans. I couldn’t care less about having the latest shoe. I liked Nike because it was light and cushiony. I needed ankle protection and I needed any help I could get on my first step more than I needed patent leather. While the latest shoe might actually have been a bit lighter and even more cushiony, I knew the price was inflated by the kids who wanted the latest thing (and patent leather) and the price of last year’s shoe was deflated versus its true functional worth because all those kids didn’t want it.

The iPhone 6 looks awesome. I would never want to pretend otherwise. It has huge functional benefits. I wish we supported it today and I can’t wait until we do. It is a great day for early adopters.

But it is also a great day for bargain hunters.

It is always helpful to remind ourselves that while the new product is better, the old one hasn’t gotten any worse. That seems obvious. But we tend to think about everything in relative terms.