Sprint's new Family Share Plan has too much fine print to possibly be a good deal

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Credit: Michael Homnick

There hasn't been a lot of positive association with Sprint lately, given its shoddy connection speeds, its weird “Framily” commercials, and its lackluster smartphone exclusivity deals. Maybe that’s why the company keeps trying to win over new customers by introducing new plans, like the Family Share Pack (spelled without an extra "r"), which offers 20GB of share data for up to 10 users and an additional 2GB of data per device—all for only $100 a month. It sounds like a deal that’s too good to pass up, right? Well, not exactly.

First off, this isn’t a plan that you can expect to last. The Family Share Pack deal will cease to exist once the clock strikes midnight on Jan 1, 2016. The onus will be on you, the subscriber, to call Sprint and set up an appropriate monthly plan, otherwise the tally will go up an additional $15 per line. So if you have four lines, you're looking at $100 plus $60: Exactly what you’d pay for just four lines on AT&T and Verizon, but both of those carriers have arguably better coverage throughout the continental U.S. And who knows what kind of plans the other carriers will offer by 2016.

That $15 a month is for phones on the Easy Pay plan: if you have a standard subsidized phone, it's a whopping $40 per line.

Second, new subscribers will have to pay upwards of $36 per line. If you’re actually planning to move over 10 lines, that’s about $360 that you’ll need to have up front—not exactly pocket change. But Sprint said it will pay up to $250 of your termination fees with your other carrier, and it will waive the monthly line access fees for any phone you buy through the Easy Pay plan until the plan ends in January 2016. If you're coming over from another carrier and bringing your phone number. If you want to add a new line, the math is different.

However, if you decide to leave for another carrier before then and you bought a bunch of new devices, you’ll have to pay them off in their entirety before you jump ship.

The Sprint Family Share pack was conjured up to entice you to sign up with Sprint for good and lock yourself into one of its shared family plans. It's a fine deal through the end of 2015 for those porting numbers from another carrier, but in the end it sounds like a lot of hassle for a year of savings on a carrier with spotty reception. If you're at home often and usually on Wi-Fi, there's no point for all that data, anyway.

We're fans of any push toward more reasonable rates from carriers, but adding layers of complexity all for a limited time offer feels like a bad way to go about it. How about just offering simple, consistent cheap rates that apply equally to everyone on your network?

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