U.S. Cellular (NYSE:USM) confirmed that it is no longer using the "Belief Project" brand that it introduced two years ago. Further, the carrier has discontinued or changed many of the elements of the Belief Project, and its offerings now more closely align with those from its larger rivals like AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ).
U.S. Cellular launched the Belief Project in September 2010 with much fanfare. Indeed, Frost & Sullivan Analyst James Brehm described the program at the time as a "game-changer" in terms of how a wireless carrier handled its relationship with its customers. U.S. Cellular, under the leadership of former CEO Mary Dillon, heavily advertised the program in its service markets.
The main element of the Belief Project was the elimination of the requirement that customers to sign an additional two-year contract after they fulfill their first one. The action was geared toward improving churn and customer loyalty. However, as Engadget reported in July, U.S. Cellular reinstated the two-year contract requirement for customers purchasing a subsidized device.
U.S. Cellular spokeswoman Katie Frey confirmed to FierceWireless that several other elements of the Belief Project have also been discontinued. She said the carrier no longer offers a 3-percent discount to customers who sign up for automatic payments, and customers can no longer sign up to a program that allows them to upgrade their phone every 10-11 months. (She said customers who signed up for the phone replacement plan when it was available are still able to access it.) Frey also said the carrier's Battery Swap program, which was introduced in 2009 and allowed customers to obtain new phone batteries, was discontinued in April.
However, Frey said that the customer reward program that U.S. Cellular introduced in conjunction with its Belief Project in 2010 is still available. "Through this program, customers are able to receive earlier phone upgrades, free accessories and ringtones, free devices, memorabilia and tickets to events," she said. U.S. Cellular also continues to offer the Overage Cap, which caps overage charges at $50 for Single Line Plans and $150 for Family Plans, that the carrier introduced with the Belief Project.
The shuttering of the Belief Project brand is one of a number of major, recent changes at U.S. Cellular, the nation's sixth largest carrier with around 5 million customers. Mary Dillon was replaced in June by Kenneth Meyers, a longtime wireless and telecom executive and a veteran of Telephone & Data Systems, U.S. Cellular's parent company. And U.S. Cellular in May announced it plans to sell Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone after previously explaining that the carrier wouldn't sell the device because Apple's "terms were unacceptable from a risk and profitability standpoint."
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