If you are about to get a new cellphone from Sprint or T-Mobile, you better read the fine print, because you may not actually be buying that phone. You may only be leasing it.
That’s right. Sprint is turning back the clock to the 1950s when you paid a monthly rental fee to Bell for your black landline Western Electric telephone. The difference: you are responsible for repairs if you don’t have a costly protection plan or warranty, and that old phone really sounded good.
For the iPhone 6, $20 of your monthly payment for 24 months is a lease payment, because under this plan, Sprint owns the phone. What happens after the lease ends?
You can turn in the telephone, get a new one if you want, and pay its monthly lease payments.
You can continue leasing it at an undisclosed monthly cost.
You can buy it outright for an undisclosed “purchase option price.”
The first option assumes your phone is in “good working condition.” If it isn’t, or if you lose the phone during the lease term, you owe the balance of any yet-to-be-paid monthly installments plus the “purchase option price.”
If you opt to buy your Sprint iPhone 6 at the end of the lease, they will charge you $200 according to a local Sprint representative. That makes the phone slightly more expensive than buying it outright to start.
Not to be outdone, effective this week, T-Mobile joins the leasing world also, by offering Jump on Demand. It is an 18-month lease program that allows you to upgrade your phone up to three times a year. T-Mobile, however, adds all kinds of penalties if the phone you turn in is not in working order.
You could be charged up to $750 in fines for the following:
Cracked Screen Damage fee – $250
Liquid Damage fee – $250
Device does not power on fee – $250
There are a whole bunch of other terms and conditions in both the Sprint and T-Mobile lease programs. It is getting to the point that you need a Ph.D. in cellphonery to understand all the choices, options, and terminology.