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e-Briefing | Around the Dial

Ad Test

November 02, 2000

The ad: Sprint "7 Cents Anytime" long-distance service offer, advertised through a printed flier mailed to Sprint PCS wireless customers.

The offer: The big headlines on the mailing scream "Save up to $71 a year on your residential long-distance service!" and "Just 7 cents a minute and no monthly fee!"

The scoop: The basic messages in the advertisement are correct. In smaller print, customers learn that the 7-cent rate applies only to state-to-state long-distance calls and that prices vary for in-state long-distance. Sprint's in-state rate in California is 5 cents a minute, but the price can be higher in other states.

The $71 in yearly savings Sprint touts stems from waiving the plan's $5.95 monthly service fee. It's important to remember, though, that there are plans available that do not carry monthly fees.

Sprint's ad lists some key caveats in the fine print, and they are: that the offer is not available to existing Sprint long-distance customers; that the offer continues only as long as the customer maintains both the long-distance and the Sprint PCS accounts in good standing; and that "certain other restrictions may apply."

A Sprint customer service representative could not explain what those other restrictions might be. The mailer lists a Web site for additional information. The offer listed there carries the same name but has some differences. The online offer includes $50 in "Sprint savings checks," which are issued to customers in denominations of $10 each and payable only to Sprint, Sprint PCS or "The Local Telephone" company. The $50 savings is limited to one per household and might take six to eight weeks to arrive by mail. Another key difference: The Web site says Sprint will accept new sign-ups through Jan. 3, 2001, while the paper mailer lists Oct. 31 as the expiration date.

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