Last night I took the plunge and signed up for a new cell phone plan complete with a Palm Treo 755p PDA/smartphone. I’ve recently been mulling over the possibility of getting a PDA/smartphone, and finally decided that the time was right.
I’ve been waffling back and forth between a Treo 755p and a Blackberry 8830, but I finally settled on the Treo — more details on that factors that influenced my decision below.
I ended up signing up for a new line of service through the Sprint Employee Referral Offer (SERO) which, as it turns out, is available to pretty much anyone. What follows is a rundown of the process…
(1) Visit http://www.sprint.com/sero
(2) Enter the e-mail address of the employee that referred you
Don’t know anyone? No problem. There are numerous valid e-mails floating around on the web. I ended up ‘firstname.lastname@example.org‘ and it worked like a charm.
(3) Select your phone
Like I said above, I went with the Treo 755p. This phone lists for a whopping $579, but it comes with $280 in promotional discounts, a $100 mail-in rebate, and free activation. You can also get an additional $50 statement credit and (hopefully) another $75 rebate (see below).
(4) Select your plan
This is where the Sprint SERO program really shines, as they give you a ton of freebies. I ended up taking the $30/month plan with 500 anytime minutes, nights and weekend starting at 7PM, free PCS-to-PCS minutes, unlimited text messaging (and picture mail), and (this is the big one) unlimited data access. As far as I can tell, it’s pretty tough to beat this price, especially when you consider that it includes unlimited data (i.e., internet access).
(5) Finalize the details of your purchase
There are a number of promotional codes out there floating around for a variety of perks. In my case, I used ‘URANG‘ to get $50 in statement credits ($25/month for your first two months).
(6) Give the other rebate a shot
There’s a $75 rebate from Kellogg’s (yep, the cereal company) out there floating around. You can get the form here. Keep in mind, however, that there are some reports in this thread on FatWallet that you might have some trouble getting the rebate. Also note that the submission address may have changed (check that thread for details).
That’s it… Now I wait. They claim the phone will arrive in 2-4 days, but I ordered late on a Thursday night, so who knows when it will show up? Probably the middle of next week.
A few additional notes:
First, the SERO plans are for new customers only. While there are reports of existing customers getting switched, don’t hold your breath. If you’re a Sprint customer, it’s likely that you’ll have to settle for a new phone number if you do this. The only real workaround seems to be porting your number to a cheap disposable phone and then porting it back to Sprint. This wasn’t worth the trouble to me, so I skipped it and will just get a new number.
Second, they’ll do a hard credit check before approving you for the plan. This isn’t a big deal, as it’s fairly standard for cell phone providers to check your credit. Nonetheless, it’s still good to be aware.
Also keep in mind that Sprint has a 30 day money back guarantee. As long as you keep the phone in good shape and keep all of the packaging and paperwork, you can always send it back to them and opt out of your contract. The only catch is that you’ll have to pay for the service that you actually used, though that won’t amount to much at $30/month.
Finally, some of you out there might be wondering “Why not get a Blackberry?”
Believe me, I considered this. The Blackberry 8830 came out over the summer, and it looks pretty darn nice. You lose the camera of the 755p, but you gain a built-in GPS. The real downside to having a Blackberry (if your employer isn’t paying for it) is the cost. As it turns out, you have to buy a Blackberry service plan on top of your voice plan. Note that your provider’s data plan won’t do the trick.
The upside of the Blackberry service plan is that it includes phone-as-modem service. The downsides are that: (1) Sprint charges $40/month in addition to your voice plan, even if you have a SERO plan, and (2) the phone-as-modem service isn’t particularly Mac compatible, and I have a MacBook Pro. Also note that there are software hacks out there that allow you to ‘tether’ your Treo such that you can use it as a modem via USB or Bluetooth.
I’ll be sure to report back with my first impressions when the phone actually arrives.