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Cricket to Limit Customers to One New Discounted Phone Every 90 Days

According to YouTube vlogger John at MagicTechReviews, a negative change is coming to ATT's Cricket prepaid brand. Starting April 27, Cricket will limit users to purchasung only one phone every 90 days at the subsidised new user price. Currently Cricket users can get new phones at the new user price plus a $25 upgrade fee as often as they want, so unless phone prices come down or the upgrade fee goes away, this is  a step backwards.

John's been a reliable source of Cricket leaks in the past so I trust him on this one. In addition he shared a screenshot from Cricket's intranet for dealers announcing the change. The screenshot says that dealers will be able to check if a user is  eligible for an upgrade using their dealer web portal. John asked me not to publish the screenshot to protect him and his source.

The screenshot also says that Cricket is going to be listing three different prices for all its phones; a port-in price, an upgrade/new user price and a full retail price. If you want to upgrade before the 90 days are up you will have to pay the full retail price. Currently Cricket doesn't list full retail prices on their site, only a port-in price and a new customer/upgrade price as shown in the image above.

This change brings Cricket into line with T-Mobile's MetroPCS which also has a 90 day upgrade policy. Sprint's Boost Mobile is even more restrictive, only allowing an upgrade every 120 days. I'm hoping that this change will allow Cricket to cut upgrade phone prices or maybe even get rid of the upgrade fee. After all, the 90 day rule and the upgrade fee both seem to be designed to discourage people from getting phones for resale at a discount. Does Cricket need to do both to discourage phone flippers? Hopefully not.

Source: MagicTechReviews

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  1. The problem is, flippers look for the exact same thing frugal buyers look for: good value.

    If you destroy the value of your phones by jacking up prices and tacking on fees, you alienate the customers you haven't already locked down (as well as a few that you have).

    All this does is push people into the much more competitive arena of unlocked phones, which they can then bring to your competitors.

    This is the problem with changing strategies from trying to win over customers to kicking sand in their faces.

    At the end of the day, you'll either wind up doing some epic groveling and price cutting to get them back, or your locked/branded phones will die off and leave only the unlocked device market intact.

    At that point, your dealer network becomes redundant since you'll only be in the business of selling sims and airtime at the local pharmacy, gas station or convenience/big box store.

    Then you're just another overlooked brand on the rack, competing with all the rest.

    Personally, I don't see why Cricket thinks that'd be an improvement, unless they're just not thinking at all.

    1. Get real. Cricket is tired of losing money on subsidized phones. They don't care about flippers.
      The majority of people who buy Cricket phones likely want a low price of entry, a warranty and no 'hassles' of researching compatibility. They don't change their phones every 2 months.
      This new policy won't hurt Cricket. It will help them avoid $losses on phones and provisioning of lines for flippers who churn far more than average.

    2. The vast majority people who are going to be affected by this new policy are the flippers. Even one heavily subsidized phone every 90 days is very generous. Most people do not want a new phone every 90 days.

      The new unlocked phone market really isn't mainstream. Unless you want a really bottom tier no name handset like BLU, the only choices are Motorola and Apple and you have the privilege of paying more for an unsubsidized handset.

  2. All that is going to do is hurt the cricket dealers, as long as you can go to Best Buy, Target, Walmart etc or get an unlocked or AT&T phone. Who is this really going to hurt? Not the customers.

    1. I have no love for dealers after getting screwed over by one, but they're still a market presence that increases brand visibility such that even people just passing by will notice.

      A big CRICKET at your local strip mall stands out more than a little green and white box on a random shelf in the middle of a large retailer.

      Destroying something like that for short term profit is just downright moronic, and its exactly the kind of self-destructive balance sheet business planning that makes American enterprise dependent on third world tax rates and labor to subsidize their lack of wisdom, foresight and a common sense grasp of real world economics.

      That's why it's a shame they're going through with stuff like this, as the l9ng term losses will only wind up coming out of consumers' pockets one way or another.

      I wouldn't be surprised if we even wind up seeing price hikes or even more senseless restrictions coming down the pipeline over the next decade as their hardware business withers away.

      Gotta make up the difference somehow.

    2. Most customers won't care. They don't read phone blogs like you. They see a commercial with the dancing bugs or a friend tells them to get Cricket. They visit a store, buy a phone and get service. This won' hurt dealers at all.

  3. Are there really people out there buying discounted Cricket-locked phones for their own use more frequently than every 90 days who would be negatively impacted by this?

    1. Probably not on a regular basis. I can see it happening if user breaks their phone during the 90 day period.

    2. I've yet to see someone aside from myself who can go a full year without breaking a phone.

      Personally, I think smartphones are actually pretty sturdy based on a number of caseless hard floor drops.

      But somehow, lots of people seem break theirs on a regular basis, like how socks always unexplainably go missing in the wash.

      There's no rhyme or reason to it, but it happens more than you'd otherwise think.

    3. From $100 phones to $800 ones, screen shatters are the main thing that claim mine.

    4. My Blu r1 he has somehow has held together where my iPhone and Galaxy have cracked, I'd say the build quality is on par with my iPhone 6s, and I'm not a fan of of either operating system/company.

    5. reply to AnonymousApril 21, 2018 at 12:26 PM:

      I have never broken a mobile phone, and I don't even use a protective case. Too bad you can't see me :-)

      Seriously, one aspect I look for when reading phone reviews is phone durability. A glass display rolling over the edge is not good, and plastic is king when it comes to absorbing impact.

      Getting back to the story: Cricket could allow an exception if a customer trades in a broken phone.

    6. One or more of family phones seem never to make if year. If I couldn't get inexpensive new replacement phones from Cricket anymore I would move a different provider that offered them.

    7. Having to wait for until the end of the 90-day replacement period (it would generally be less than 90 days) might provide incentive for one to take better care of their phone and in the end save you money.

      Why should the rest of us pay for the higher cost of of carelessness by other users? I am in agreement with Cricket on this issue.

  4. I have to agree with Dennis. The only individuals it's going to hurt is the ones who break their phones within the 90 days.

  5. I'm confused, if Cricket is a prepaid carrier and I need to get a new phone within 90 days, what's stopping me from just canceling my existing account and opening a new account and getting a phone at the new customer price? Are they going to ask for identity verification to check if I've been a customer recently?

    1. You lose your number, for one. That's probably an inconvenience to most people.

  6. Cricket Wireless has changed the names of its(2)Unlimited Plans - They are now Called Unlimited $55/mo ($50/mo after Auto pay Credit) & Unlimited Max $60/mo ($55/mo after Auto Pay Credit).

  7. I would say that this is a reasonable policy. After all, Cricket does need to recoup the cost of the subsidy. It's also in line with the rest of the industry.

  8. Cellphone companies have done this to themselves. Instead of focusing on lowering prices on service or increasing the value of their plans to customers, they subsidize phone prices.
    Historically, cut backs on phone subsidies has not reduced plan prices.

  9. Unless I'm mistaken CricketWireless.com already shows this 90-day policy at the top of their phone wall?


  10. Which price will I pay?

    The price you pay for a new phone depends on your customer status. You are only eligible for Transfer Number (Switch/Port), Upgrade, or New Line pricing once every 90 days.

    New to Cricket?

    Number Transfer Price

    If you're a new customer and you transfer an eligible phone number to Cricket, you'll pay the "number transfer" price. AT&T mobile and landline numbers are not eligible.

    New Number Price

    If you're a new customer and you need a new phone number, you'll pay the "new number" price.

    Join Cricket Price

    Some phones are the same price whether you transfer your phone number or get a new number. If you're a new customer joining Cricket, you'll pay the "Join Cricket" price.

    Promo Codes

    Cricket often offers promo code discounts. If you see a promo code listed next to the device price, enter it on the cart page to get the discount.
    Already a Cricket customer?

    Upgrade Price

    If you're a current Cricket customer and you're upgrading to a new phone, you'll pay the "upgrade" price. You'll also pay a $25 upgrade fee.

    Full Retail Price

    If you're a current Cricket customer, but you've already upgraded to a new phone within the past 90 days, you'll pay the "Full Retail Price." You'll also pay a $25 upgrade fee.

    Returning customer?

    Full Retail Price

    If you were a Cricket customer within the last 90 days and you want to transfer the same phone number back to Cricket, you'll pay the "Full Retail Price."

  11. I just don't get if someone wants a new phone through cricket and it's been 90 days or more why there is no discount?

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