Should You Start a FRamily?
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!"
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...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 4 Feb 2014
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Should You Start a FRamily? (Posted: 4 Feb 2014)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved