Luring in customers by buying out their contracts is the latest mobile carrier marketing craze. Both T-Mobile(s tmus) and AT&T started offering to pay the early termination fees (ETFs) of their competitors at the beginning of the year (though AT&T has since stopped), and now Sprint is jumping on the bandwagon.
From this weekend through May 8, Sprint will offer up to $650 to customers who bring their phone numbers to Sprint. It’s not a lump payout. Rather, Sprint will pay the ETF on your last bill from another carrier up to $350, and it will pay up to $300 for a trade-in phone. The catch is that the promotion isn’t available for all Sprint plans, only its new “Framily” group plans.
Sprint has pumped a lot of its marketing budget into its unique take on the family plan, building a new advertising campaign around it modeled on SoftBank’s popular Otosan commercials in Japan. Unlike traditional family plans, which only offer discounts for customers on the same bill, Framily uses some of the same techniques as multilevel marketing to encourage customers to recruit friends and colleagues to Sprint’s network.