Petition Closed

Fix "Financial Eligibility Check" (FEC) so people can change carriers without buying a new phone

This petition had 199 supporters


Sprint is claiming to adhere to the Consumer Code for Wireless Service, a set of rules intended to make switching carriers easier.  However, Sprint has set up a "catch" in the process of transferring phones from Sprint to different carriers--Sprint requires any phone activation on any small network (like Ting, FreedomPop) to get clearance from Sprint first. 

 

This clearance is called a "Financial Eligibility Check" (FEC).  Supposedly, this clearance step is to see if the phone has an outstanding balance or has been reported lost or stolen.  However, this check fails for many phones without any substantial reasons.  Many times, even brand new phones, phones not on a Sprint contract, unlocked and phones without outstanding balances.  Sprint is using the FEC to prevent people from switching carriers and blocking competition.  This helps keep American phone rates the highest in the world. 

 

I checked my phone at Sprint local shop and they said that it is clean and ready to be used at any carrier.  When I tried activating my phone with Ting, my phone did not pass the FEC test.  Interestingly, when I called Sprint customer service to check if I can use the same phone on Sprint-Prepaid they said yes.  Additionally, they confirmed that the phone is not reported lost or stolen and there is no outstanding balance on this phone, the phone is unlocked and not tied to any account.  When asking why this phone is not going through FEC test they say they can't help me with that.  After several hours of discussion with Sprint and Ting I could not find the reason for the failed FEC. 

 

You can search on Ting/FreedomPop and Sprint's website that thousands of customers have been affected.

 

By restricting access to low-cost networks Sprint is forcing customers to stay on their network or buy new phones.  It is unethical for Sprint to say my phone is fine to be on their network, but not on a low-cost competitor like Ting or FreedomPop. This also affects long term cellular market and customers. By creating a lot of hassle during switching your carrier from big companies like Sprint to a small startups (like Ting) Sprint creates bad experience for consumers who are looking for different option.  This practice is a serious candidate for anti-competitive, anti-trust and anti-consumer. How can same phone get cleared when buying services from Sprint but not when buying from others?

 

Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO) are generally small companies that work with large networks like Sprint to provide phone services on their network. Here are some links to the fact:

 

One MVNO(Ting) says: “Sprint’s Financial Eligibility Check that runs prior to a device being activated with an MVNO like Ting, has been very poorly implemented. Customers of MVNOs are the ones bearing the brunt of this poor implementation. We are very sorry.”

 

Freedom's Pop (another MVNO) says: "due to a recent system implementation on behalf of Sprint, some of you may have trouble activating your presumably eligible devices".

 

This article mentions: "This situation has got to be devastating to Sprint MVNOs, most of whom rely on BYOSP for almost all new customer activations. Sprint has destroyed the wholesale and retail market for new and used MVNO ready Sprint postpaid phones. Brand new Sprint postpaid phones purchased at full price and off-contract used phones with no money owed on them are failing Sprint's MVNO check."

 

By signing this petition, we can help break the grip large network carriers like Sprint have on allowing used phones onto their networks.  Give small MVNO companies a fair chance to improve cell phone services in USA.

 

Thanks.

 

References:

http://www.fiercewireless.com/story/new-sprint-handset-policy-tangling-byod-program-mvno-ting-says/2015-02-18

https://ting.com/blog/changes-to-the-byod-program-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/

http://www.androidheadlines.com/2015/02/ting-speaks-sprints-poorly-implemented-financial-eligibility-check.html

http://www.prepaidphonenews.com/2015/02/sprints-blacklist-is-gone-but-byosp-is-badly-broken.html

https://forums.freedompop.com/discussion/7668/byod-activation-error-sprint-financial-eligibility-check

https://consumersunion.org/news/groups-ask-fcc-to-stop-anti-competitive-cell-phone-locking/



Today: Vikas is counting on you

Vikas Kumar needs your help with “Sprint: Fix "Financial Eligibility Check" (FEC) so people can change carriers without buying a new phone”. Join Vikas and 198 supporters today.