Hey, Sprint customers: Want to change your phone number? Hope you've got some spare change.
Sprint has announced that it will now charge its customers $15 to change their phone numbers either in person at Sprint stores or over the telephone on the Sprint Care customer service line. The third-largest mobile carrier in the United States is encouraging customers who want a new number to do so over the Internet, where the service will remain free.
The new charge -- which Sprint has descriptively dubbed the $15 Phone Number Change Fee -- went into effect on June 10.
The takeaway here seems to be that if you want to change your cell phone number, you should do so online. In a blog post, Sprint offered a step-by-step for how to change one's phone number online:
1. Login to www.sprint.com
2. Click on My Preferences tab
3. Click on Change phone number under ‘Things I can manage online - account’
4. Follow the steps to complete your number change.
The new fee for in-person or over-the-telephone phone number change is apparently necessary to cover labor costs, both for Sprint's retail workers and call-center employees. The move comes just before Sprint's launch of its 4G LTE network, expected to be active by the end of 2012 and to support high-profile Android smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S III and the HTC EVO 4G LTE and, possibly, the next-generation 4G LTE iPhone.
Sprint's quiet announcement of the $15 phone number change fee -- on the eve of Apple's WWDC, no less -- was no doubt timed to avoid the kind of customer backlash suffered by Verizon in April of this year. Verizon had attempted to instate a $2 convenience fee for customers paying monthly bills via telephone or the Internet but was forced to cancel its plans after substantial popular pushback.
Carriers have turned to fees, the Associated Press has written, due to declining profits from smartphone sales as well as the growing cost of subsidizing smartphones, especially the iPhone.