Last week my wife called me with bad news. She was over at her parents house and dropped her phone on the tile floor. The phone still worked but the screen was shattered. The funny thing is that the phone still worked, and after my father-in-law put a piece of packaging tape over, the immediate danger of cracked glass was limited.
So, for the moment my wife is living with this mess of a phone:
But we’re not exactly sure what to do next.
My wife is on a Sprint family plan with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. My wife was on the plan first, and the other two lines were merged in later. Thus, my wife is technically finished with her contract and is eligible for a new phone. The other two lines are also eligible for a full upgrade, but are still under contract until July 29th (Sprint allows you to get a full discount a few months before your contract is up).
My wife could just go to the store and get a new phone, and could get it at a full discount. The issue is that it would lock her (and presumably the other two lines) into another two year contract.
And we’re not sure if we want to stay with Sprint.
Up until last summer, there were four lines on the plan. I was the other line. But, my employer offered to provide me a phone, and since I was done with my contract and it would save us about $40 per month, I took them up on the offer.
My employer is on AT&T and I have to admit, their service and network is much better. Sprint has still not rolled out 4G LTE service in the area. Yes, according to Sprint, it’s OK to offer service two generations behind what everybody else offers. Also, Sprint just doesn’t have a great network. They actually provided us an Airave signal booster to make their phones usable in our house. Sprint phones barely work in my in-laws house, my parents house, and last year when we were camping, there was one campground where we even got a hint of service (where I saw campers at other sites using their phones with no problem).
Since our employer has a deal with AT&T, we could get a discount on our service. If we transitioned all three lines, the overall cost difference would be minimal.
The issue is that the other two lines can’t transfer (without paying an early termination fee) until July 30th.
Here are the options:
Stay with Sprint
If my wife, her mom, and her sister were to agree to stay on Sprint, my wife could just go get the phone replaced and nothing would really change. Nobody loves Sprint, but everybody knows it’s inferior service. Maybe they’ll upgrade service and coverage?
Stay with the broken phone
My wife could stick with the broken phone for another two months, at which point everybody could transition. However, my wife doesn’t think the phone will last that long and has made it clear she does not like this option.
Utilize insurance for two months
We have insurance on the phone so we could actually get it replaced. However, there is a cracked screen deductible of $100. This would give her a usable phone for two months. At that point, some of the cost could be recovered if the phone could be sold, but it’s a pretty old model and I wouldn’t expect it to fetch more than $25-50.
Have my wife transition first
My wife could go over to AT&T, and the other two lines could follow in July. The issue is that my wife’s plan would cost roughly $90 per month, while only dropping $40 per month from Sprint. This would essentially equal the cost of just paying the cracked screen deductible (and could turn out worse if you assume salvage value of the phone).
Borrow or buy a beater
We could look around to see if we could borrow an unused phone or buy a cheap one to get us through the next couple of months. You can buy some older phones for $50, and you’d hope that you could get some of that back in a couple of months, but who knows? Also, Sprint would likely charge the $36 activation fee in this case.
What to do?
Ideally, my wife would not have dropped her phone, or would have done so closer to the July 30th time where we could leave. But, fate didn’t work out that way so we’re in a strange position.
Any recommendations on what to do? I know the best answer from a financial standpoint is to try to live with the current phone but I know my wife doesn’t like this idea (and I don’t blame her). What would your ‘next best’ option be if you were in my shoes? Has anybody heard how Sprint’s service upgrade is going? I’ve heard that they are rolling out 4G LTE and you’d have to think this would be a requirement across the board if they want to keep up.