Ting sets aside $100,000 to cover ETF costs for customers who break contracts

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Ting, the Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) prepaid MVNO, said it will pay up to $100,000 to customers who incur an early termination fee by switching to Ting.

In a company blog post, the MVNO said that on Feb. 1, the Ting $100,000 ETF fund will go live. Through the end of February, Ting will pay up to $350 per line for anyone who drops their contract to switch. The fund, therefore, can only support around 285 customers, but it highlights Ting's aggressive marketing efforts to go after larger U.S. carriers. Customers who switch will not receive cash or a debit card but will instead get up to $350 in Ting bill credits.

"So why are we telling you about this now at the obvious risk of having a bunch of people who are in a mobile contract hold off from making the move to Ting until our ETF buyout program is online?" wrote Ting's Andrew Moore-Crispin. "Simple. This promotion is not retroactive; we'd hate to spring this on you the day after you paid out your ETF and made the move to Ting. We figure we'll give a heads up and you can decide what to do with all the available information. Just don't sign another mobile contract between now and February 1, 2013, OK?"

The experiment is similar to something Ting did in May 2012. The company then declared May "Dump Your Contract Month" and encouraged customers to break their long-term cell phone contracts with other wireless carriers. Ting, a non-contract service that is run by Internet domain company Tucows, raffled up to $300 to subscribers to cover the cost of their ETFs (most ETFs for smartphones at Tier 1 carriers cost around $350).

Ting sells around two-dozen devices, including more than a dozen smartphones and several with LTE. In November the company launched a beta test of its bring-your-own-Sprint-device program. The company said it will not charge users an activation fee for porting a Sprint device to the Ting service.

The MVNO offers minutes, text messages and data in different buckets. If customers use more than they have paid for in a certain month, they are not charged an overage fee, but instead are bumped up to the next usage tier for that month. Likewise, if customers use less than they had thought they would need, they are bumped down to the next lowest usage tier and will receive a credit on their bill for the difference. Users can continuously monitor their usage via an online dashboard.

For more:
- see this Ting blog post

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