Should You Start a FRamily?

Category: Mobile

Customer aggregation seems to be the new marketing strategy for cellular service providers. Sprint's new 'Framily Plan' idea is to get a lot of people signed up under one account, offering everyone discounts if they pool their minutes and data consumption. Let's check out the pros and cons of this offer…

Friends and Family Equals Framily

Sprint’s latest aggregate account offer is called Framily, a portmanteau of “friends” and “family.” You can have up to ten friends, family members, and even “others” on a single Sprint account. I suppose "others" could include people you don't really like, but you're willing to accept in your gang if it'll reduce your monthly cell phone bill.

One person pays $55 a month; each additional person reduces everyone’s monthly bill by five dollars, down to a minimum of $25/month when your Framily reaches seven people. You can have up to ten Framily members, but your bill won't decrease any further.

Each Framily member (or group of members) will get their own Sprint bill, and if someone doesn’t pay he/she/they gets kicked out of the Framily. The Framily will have to recruit another member to keep everyone’s low rate from increasing, if it dips below seven members. The side effect is that you've created a "committee" that will have a hard time agreeing to switch to another carrier. "Nobody leaves the Framily... NOBODY!"
Sprint Framliy Plan

There is no contract and no early termination fee, which is nice but makes me wonder, “What’s the catch?” Everyone gets unlimited text and voice and a 1 GB monthly data allowance. Aha, there’s the catch!

How Big Is Your Bucket?

With email, calendar, Facebook, Maps, games and streaming video, who uses just one gig of data per month these days? Perhaps Sprint is betting it will collect those sweet $15/GB overage fees when Framily members exceed their quota. You can reduce the possibility of overage fees by buying a bigger bucket of data for your personal line in the Framily. An additional 3GB costs $10/month; unlimited data costs $20.

For what it's worth, I think Sprint is the only major carrier to even offer an unlimited data plan. Check your recent mobile phone bills to see how much data you typically use in one month, to get an idea of whether or not you should sign up for a bigger data plan. If your usage is mostly talk, text and occasional web surfing (or if most of your data consumption happens while connected to wifi) you may not come close to exceeding the 1GB barrier.

Sprint also throws in its EasyPay phone purchase option, which allows one to buy a phone and make payments along with one’s service bill over a 24 month period. You don’t own the phone until it’s completely paid off; its remaining balance becomes due if you switch carriers, which makes a nice substitution for an early-termination fee.

The sales pitch ends with this discouraging caveat: “Available at select Sprint stores. Coming to Sprint.com and other channels soon. (Excludes D.C. stores) Offer for well-qualified buyers and may vary based on credit approval.” Apparently, federal legislators and their staffs are notoriously uncreditworthy. Oh, and way down at the bottom of the page, it mentions that there's an activation fee of $36 per line. At least FORTY other caveats, terms, conditions and restrictions follow in the small print.

The battle of the deals between cellular carriers continues, perhaps to the benefit of consumers. But the deals keep getting more complicated, so it’s hard to tell.

Will you join a Framily? Post your comment or question below...

 
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Most recent comments on "Should You Start a FRamily?"

Posted by:

Ken Mitchell
04 Feb 2014

A 1 GB data plan? Here in Sacramento, CA, where I live, a 1GB Sprint data plan is "all you can eat", because there's no 4G coverage available, and I couldn't use 1GB of data if I used it 24/7 for a month.

I've been on Sprint since the Nextel days, but I'll be leaving Sprint in September, as soon as this contract is done. I'm paying a surcharge for 4G service where there isn't any, and I'm tired of it.


Posted by:

John Doyle
04 Feb 2014

Offhand, I'd say the "FRamily Plan" has all the earmarks of a lose, lose, lose, lose, lose, etc. operation.


Posted by:

RandiO
04 Feb 2014

Thank you and this idea has much merit for families.
Yet, as good as the idea may be, it does have some potential privacy issues; as it is one more additional piece of information that ties people together; especially in this age of Snowden and NSA news.


Posted by:

Jack
04 Feb 2014

This new plan is way to complicated and will be difficult to manage. Although the idea of everyone getting their own bill sounds good, the problem will be when someone does not pay up. Who will manage that problem!!


Posted by:

Art Frailey
04 Feb 2014

Not for me. Looks like to many 'Kinky' kinks. Cell phone companies are always trying to catch people off guard. It is like a boxer, you are watching the right hand, but he is going to pound you with his left.
A lot of the 'blame' of something that went wrong is going to come from the members.


Posted by:

BallyIrish Bob
04 Feb 2014

Guess what - I have without any sort of difficulty, studiously avoided owning a cell phone - and got away with it. I haven't been arrested, persecuted, purged, or any of those kinda things, just lived a nice, quiet, but busy life. My brain cells near my ears have not been radiated (as far as I know)neither do I have to pay anyone for air time.

So Sprint can make all the offers it pleases and I will not be falling for any of them; and what's more, I don't know of any Company of any kind, who has gotten rich through altruism. Be careful, the sting may be in the tale (sic)


Posted by:

sky dive
05 Feb 2014

Just remember the old saying .

"THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH"
Companys such as this one will give nothing free.


Posted by:

Stephen - NYC
05 Feb 2014

To be fair, even Verizon sticks it to you with the activation fee. Not sure why, other than pure greed, especially when it comes to an existing customer. When my mom had to renew her plan (and get a new phone), VZW said "give us $35." Come on, what's there to activate?

As for the Sprint version, as always, read the fine print for all the gotchas. Because you know they are there. if it seems too good to be true, well, you know the rest.


Posted by:

Paul
05 Feb 2014

T-Mobile has (as of the writing) a $70 unlimited plan with (supposedly) truly unlimited data i.e. no throttling.


Posted by:

marcy
08 Jul 2014

I currently have unlimited everything and now feeling the push to go to the framily plan. I had heard there is no money for upgrades you pay the full price, does anyone know if that is true.


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