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Sprint Luring Virgin Mobile Customers With Galaxy S6

It looks like Virgin Mobile is offering its long term customers the opportunity to "upgrade" to Sprint postpaid. A reader forwarded me an email (posted in full below) he got from Virgin offering a new Samsung Galaxy S6 for no money down and $20 per month for switching to postpaid. Whether that's a good deal depends on a lot of things. Here the details of the offer.

  • The $20/month S6 is actually a 24 month lease. At the end of the lease you don't own the phone. You can either turn it in and lease a different phone or keep the phone and continue to pay $20 month. Unlike with Sprint's regular lease agreements there doesn't seem to be an option to purchase the phone by paying the difference between the total payments and the phone's full price which is $552. Update: The offer's terms of service do mention that there's an option to purchase the phone although there's no indication of how the purchase price is calculated.
  • There's no credit check, no activation fee and the customer's Virgin Mobile balance, if they have one, gets applied as a credit to their postpaid account. However there's a $150 spending limit. If you run up a bill over $150, service will be suspended until the bill is paid in full. Sprint normally charges a $7.99/month adninistrative fee on Spending Limit Accounts. The fee isn't mentioned in the offer email so maybe Sprint is waiving it.
  • The deal is only good for individual lines. The only available plan seems to be $60/per month which includes unlimited talk, messaging and data, domestic voice and text roaming, some data roaming, unlimited calls and texts to Mexico and Canada and unlimited calls and texts and 1 GB of data while roaming in Mexico and Canada. The majority of use must be on the Sprint network.
So is is a good deal or not? That depends. The minimum cost for postpaid per month is $80 plus taxes and fees which vary by state. Here in California postpaid taxes average around 30% compared with no taxes at all on prepaid service. That makes the postpaid offer almost twice as expensive as Virgin Mobile's most expensive plan. The difference is less extreme in states which charge sales taxes on prepaid and have lower taxes on postpaid than California. In any case this offer means paying between $90 and $105 per month vs between $55 and $63 per month for Virgin Mobile's best plan. In return for that $27 to $50 per month extra you get a new S6, unlimited data, domestic and some international roaming and unlimited calls to Mexico and Canada. Is it worth the price? That's something only you can decide.

One has to wonder what this means for the future of Virgin Mobile. Sprint certainly hasn't been doing much to retain Virgin customers only. Only a handful of mostly old and low end devices are available on the Virgin Mobile site.  Sprint pulled Virgin from the independent dealer channel last year. Virgin's plans aren't very competitive anymore even compared with Boost mobile, Sprint's other prepaid brand.

Could Sprint be winding Virgin down in anticipation on merging it into Boost or Sprint Prepaid? Maybe, but Sprint has a long history of running hot and cold with its prepaid brands. From in 2004 to 2009 Boost got all the love with heavy promotion including the big budget "Where you at?" TV spots featuring Kanye West and other well known hip hop artists as well as NFL stars and other athletes. In 2010, the pendulum shifted to Virgin with the heavily promoted launch of the Samsung Intercept, the first Android phone from a US prepaid carrier and its companion $25/month 300 minute, unlimited texts and 2.5 GB of data plan. Boost languished with little promotion until last year when Sprint brought it back to the forefront with with increased data, the high end devices and free phones and double data for customers switching from other operators. Given the history, it's certain possible that Sprint will revive Virgin for some new promotion rather than killing it.

Here's the full email that the Virgin Mobile customer received:

24 comments:

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  1. I don't see why the average VM customer would be interested in doubling/tripling their cost given that most people joined for that sweet $25 plan. Not sure why Sprint is splintering their prepaid brand instead of migrating them to Boost. They should move to VM to the Data Done Right plan exclusively or offer group plans on Boost. Better yet, they could revitalize prepaid by offering things like WiFi calling and allowing BYOD like MetroPCS.

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  2. Pad post-paid adds for the quarter?

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  3. wonder how many on virgin with current phones and cheaper plans would really have any interest at all in sprint POSTPAID costs and fees.. most prepaid don't want anything to do with that anymore.. AND TO JUST LEASE A PHONE... AH SOUNDS LIKE MORE OF THAT BAIT AND SWITCH TRY AND NOT CALL IT A CONTRACT,,,, BUT IT REALLY IS!!!

    Thanks for the info Dennis...

    but Sprint... why not try giving Virgin Mobile some cheap plans, open up BYOP to give some value to cdma sprint phones or just make it pay go ...... but why expect wireless corporal heads to try some common sense... and differentiate their branding in a manner that makes common sense...????
    ..but guess that's too much to ask

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  4. As much as I'd like to praise their eliminating a vestigial subsidiary, they may just be sockdrawering it for later.

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  5. I originally forwarded that email to Dennis. The main thing I am taking away from it is the fact that they are trying to lure VM customers away from VM (via the VM email system BTW). I have also been a Boost customer for many years and have never gotten an email offering to have me switch to the mother ship. Least of all would I expect such an email to come from Boost rather than Sprint. My suspicion here is, there will be more offers like this in the future. Possibly better deals. I don't have any real knowledge of the situation. Time will tell. I am now highly suspicious of VMs future as a brand.

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  6. Does no credit check mean they won't ask for my SS#?

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    1. I would have been shocked if they loaned out a phone without doing a credit check.

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    2. The TOS says "No Credit/Peapproved Offer: Based on internal eligibility information".

      Some people will qualify and some won't. Possibly based on a minimum payment history with them. This isn't an offer to the general public.

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    3. I did this today and they DID ask for ssn. I kept repeating "this say no credit check" but agent assured me thats not what they were using it for. I say bull shit and ended up canceling without signing their 3 page agreement that literally NOWHERE states what Im agreeing to with this plan. Oh well...........

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  7. i just tried they do check youre credit its bs

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    Replies
    1. Why would they want to lease an expensive phone with no downpayment to a person whose credit is s ?

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  8. How is this a lease? After 2 years $480 will have been paid towards the phone. $552-480 = $72 remaining. This doesn't even factor in depreciation on the value of the device. They don't say if the $20 includes taxes or if taxes are due upfront. Coming from car leases, this looks like a complete shaft of the customer in every way.

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    Replies
    1. According to the offer's terms fine print, the $20 lease payment does not include taxes.

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    2. And just like cars, some people will trade up all the time, and will always pay for a phone lease. I just switched from Virgin because they gave me a new LG G4 AND a free LG G Pad tablet. The phone is an extra $18, and my unlimited service with Virgin went from $35 a month to $40 a month with Sprint (plus the phone lease). It was an offer I couldn't pass up. I needed a new phone, and with Virgin you need to pay cash up front, and I didn't have hundreds for a good phone. Virgin has some crappy ones, and I didn't want a $600 iPhone.

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  9. I find it funny when carriers make a big deal about getting a phone with $0 down. T-Mobile even calls those "sales" (seriously).

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  10. No offer no matter how good would get me to try sprint or any of their MVNO's

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    Replies
    1. the non-sprint unclean nonbelievers. for they are to never be blessed by the rightousness of using sprint.

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    2. To the "no offer" anon. i used Sprint for years. I thought it was normal to have coverage in isolated spots only, constant dropped calls, and LTE that maxed out at under 2mbps (and was usually about 0.5 mbps). I left it and will never go back

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  11. There is a purchase option in the Sprint lease. See the T&C below the phone picture. The amount depends on when you buy the phone.

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    Replies
    1. You're right, I missed that the terms do mention that there is a purchase option, although they don't say how the purchase price is calculated.

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  12. Sprint is beyond disorganized, even downright clueless...

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  13. Verizon has the same type of deal. They say its not a contract but they do check your credit and you have to earn so much a month to qualify. So if your barely employed or on disability you can forget the whole idea. Looks like more are trying the same trick Verizon is doing.

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  14. As a long-time VM customer I have no interest in this "deal" ... they have been jerking me around most of the year and it's about time for me to pull the plug on VM or any Sprint-related company.

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  15. Dennis Boost mobile is offering this same s6 deal nw

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