Late last week, I received the email above from Sprint, encouraging me to “turn off roaming to avoid unexpected surprises” on my HTC EVO bill. More specifically, the email stated, “turn off roaming on your HTC EVO to save you from any unexpected charges. It’s simple to turn roaming on or off. And it can give you a little peace of mind.”
The problem with this is that Sprint has advertised in the past that domestic roaming is now included in all its current postpaid offerings. Sprint’s official description of the Everything Data plans mentions no roaming charges, and Sprint’s most recent terms and conditions say only this:
The primary use of your Device must be for domestic purposes within the Sprint-owned network. Domestic means use in the 50 United States and U.S. Territories (except Guam). Sprint reserves the right, without notice, to deny, terminate, modify, disconnect or suspend service if off-network usage in a month exceeds: (1) voice: 800 min. or a majority of minutes; or (2) data: 300 megabytes or a majority of kilobytes. The display on your device may not always be on and will not indicate whether you will incur roaming charges.
This is actually the same as it’s always been – at least for the past several years. Sprint doesn’t charge for domestic roaming anywhere in the United States, but if you roam too much, Sprint does reserve the right to cancel your service. Nowhere does Sprint list specific roaming overage rates for its current smartphone plans, because Sprint just doesn’t charge for roaming.
So that’s the problem I have with this email. Sprint is still losing money each quarter, and when we roam for free, it isn’t free for Sprint – Sprint has to pay Verizon and other CDMA carriers quite a bit of money whenever its subscriber’s roam onto another company’s towers. So I completely understand why Sprint sometimes terminates the service of those who roam too much. But to threaten people with “surprise” charges that simply don’t exist is deceptive marketing, plain and simple. This is simply a way for Sprint to scare people into turning off the roaming features on their phones, so Sprint will save money.
Sure, you might argue that international roaming charges might occur near the borders of Mexico or Canada, if a phone accidentally hops onto another network. But the problem is Sprint doesn’t differentiate between domestic and international roaming in this email. Sprint also fails to mention that HTC EVO phones have an option in the settings to enable domestic roaming (free), while simultaneously disabling international roaming (not free).
You might say I’m overreacting, but the fact remains that this email is deceptive, and will only scare people who don’t know better into turning off roaming – thus having an even worse smartphone experience when traveling in poor coverage areas.
What do you think?