MVNOs, Mobile Virtual Network Operators, piggyback off their host carrier network (or in some cases, multiple networks). Because of this, they have a close working relationship with the carrier and arguments are relatively rare (or we suppose, kept behind closed doors). However, Sprint MVNO, Ting, has publicly criticized Sprint’s Financial Eligibility Check, or FEC, as it can cause difficulties when customers try to bring their devices across from Sprint to the Ting network. The issue also appears to impact other carriers, too. In a recent blog post from Ting’s Andrew Moore-Crispin, “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.”
Until recently, Ting’s “bring your own device” program was limited to those devices currently and recently available on the Sprint network. This has recently been lifted because of Sprint’s participation in the industry-wide improvements to the handset unlocking processes. However, under the new rules the requirement is that any device used on the Ting service must be compatible with the Sprint network and also be in good financial standing – that means it needs to be bought and paid for, not lost or stolen and not tied to an account with an outstanding balance. Where the activation process falls over is when a device cancels a contract with Sprint to move to Ting but hasn’t received (let alone paid) the final Sprint bill. The issue only comes to light when the customer goes to activate their Ting account: the customer has canceled their Sprint service but cannot move on until they’ve paid their final bill.
Ting also note that some unlocked devices bought straight from the manufacturer (typically, Nexus and iPhone devices, but also including the Moto G, Moto X) are also coming back as financially ineligible even though they weren’t bought from Sprint. Ting are working hard on a fix but believe that it will take a few weeks; meanwhile the advice dispensed is to only trust the Ting ESN checker if you’re looking to buy a new device from a third party. Ting ask that you run the ESN through their checker before buying it and only trust their ESN. And second, not to deactivate devices before talking to Ting just in case they are unable to activate it on the new service. Deactivating a device may well cause it to become financially ineligible until that final bill is paid!
It is likely Sprint will resolve the issue and especially considering Google’s MVNO carrier is wearing that “coming soon” device and this could have an impact. Meanwhile, have you had a Ting, or other Sprint MVNO operator, contract rejected? Or were you thinking about joining Ting but are now going to check first? If so, let us know in the comments below.