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Sprint Introduces Automated Plan Assessment

Fri Sep 19, 2008 - 2:37 PM EDT - By Jay Gross


Sprint has been touting a new online self-service analysis tool that allows consumer customers to determine if their current cell plan fits their usage pattern and whether a different plan would save them money. The Sprint Plan Optimizer, at this link, displays the customer’s historical cost and usage trends, evaluates a bunch of other data, and recommends (or not) a change of plan.

Customers can then make the changes directly, online. The system generates a price comparison to help the customer decide whether the new plan is a better fit. In choosing a new plan, it evaluates most types of usage, including Anytime Minutes, web and data use, Nextel Direct Connect, text messaging, and the like. Currently, consumer customers can view up to five months of usage history, but Sprint is promising that will increase to 12 months, eventually.

Sounds great, right? You never know if your cell plan is the right plan, anyway, and the plans are so confusing it’s impossible to compare them without consulting a math major. So, let a computer weigh all the variables and pick a plan that matches your actual usage. Pish-posh!

For an even better “plan fit,” let me introduce you to Jay’s Preferred Plan. That is: no cotton-pickin’ plan at all! T-Mobile already has it, and Verizon is rumored to be following in their footsteps shortly, or paying lip service to doing so, at least.

Cell phone carriers, pay attention! I don’t want any “plan” or any contract, or any hassle. I want to pick up the phone and use it, and not worry about whether I’m in overage minutes, or data access, or anytime minutes, or weekend minutes or whatever else. I don’t want to spend time crunching numbers from cell phone bills, and I don’t want to pay super-high (translate Verizon, AT&T, etc.) prices for having no plan. I don’t need a snazzy trademarked name for any plan (Sprint? You listening?), and I don’t need one ten millionth of the hype that all of the carriers spend too much money creating. I just need the phone to work. Period.

From the cell carriers’ point of view, they want a return on their up-front investment in the discounted and free phones. I’d rather buy a phone someplace else – like Palm, even. Besides, I already have my own phones, a fabulous collection of Treos and a Centro, plus a shiny new Blackberry Curve that’s still in a box somewhere since my move last month. So, for me the cell carriers need to offer the Jay Plan. One of my Sprint-network lines still has a year to go on its contract. My Centro, also on Sprint, is at last contract free. Somehow, it seems to work better.

Vent mode off. Temporarily.

So, dutiful reporter hat perched on my head, I browsed over to Sprint’s plan assessment web page just now to check it all out and snap a screenshot for this article. You already peeked at the screenshot, so you know what I found. Nothing! The optimizer’s been taken down for “enhancements.” Translate: It didn’t work, or crashed, or made mistakes. Who knows or even cares? The facility will probably be back sometime, however, so check it out if you’re a Sprint customer. But if you ever get the chance, choose the Jay Plan. It’s the best if the price is fair.

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