Pando

Sprint's plan to set up shop in people's homes is weirdly brilliant

By Nathaniel Mott , written on April 13, 2015

From The News Desk

Sprint will now send someone out to meet customers who are moving over to its network, purchasing their first phones, or upgrading their existing handset.

The Verge reports that Sprint will send these deliverymen-slash-salespeople wherever a customer wants. Work. Home. McDonald's. Sprint's workers will wander through the night like yellow-polo'd crusaders doling out smartphones like Batman doles out justice. (Dramatically, and with lots of parental issues.)

The company will also make it easier for people to prepare for their new phones -- namely by backing up their data, which many  want to do but few actually accomplish -- or trade in their old phones for bill credits. Workers can also help people switch from, say, Windows Phone to Android.

Some aspects of the service are worrisome. Sprint is said to be relying on third parties to supply the workers, and though it claims it will train them, it hasn't offered any details on what kind of background checks it expects to be using. And it's not clear who will be held accountable when something goes wrong.

But it's not hard to see the appeal of having someone meet you at a Starbucks instead of having to head out to a Sprint store. Plus, if the workers are really able to assist consumers with their purchases, it might convince people who don't yet own smartphones to join the rest of the world in the 21st century.

Sprint also claims the workers won't be asked to upsell consumers on its service. Instead of heading out to a retail store, arguing with a salesperson whose livelihood requires them to convince you to buy a newer phone with an expensive plan and then setting things up at home, the service purports to give people what they want, when they want it, and where they want to get it.

Will this help contribute to the so-called "shut-in economy" where people are able to have everything delivered to their homes instead of heading out into the world? Sure. But anyone who's had to switch phones, upgrade a line, or do anything else in a carrier's store knows this is probably worth the tradeoff.

It's easy to laugh at the idea of Sprint's delivery people buzzing around like little worker bees. Nevertheless, this weird, potentially problematic, and kinda desperate idea is among the best Sprint's had in years.

[photo by Mike Mozart]