Ina Fried

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Ahead of Possible iPhone Launch, Sprint Tightens Upgrade and Return Policies

Sprint intends to do away with a program that gave longtime customers the ability to upgrade their phones as often as every year.

The company said last week that it plans to kill off its Sprint Premier program, saying it needs to do so to offer the latest in phones and maintain its unlimited plans.

“In order to continue offering customers one of the best values of affordable unlimited data plans in the industry today, cutting-edge devices at great prices and our ongoing investment in providing great customer service, we had to make the difficult decision that it’s necessary to bring the Sprint Premier Program to a close at this time,” Sprint marketing director Melinda Parks said in a statement.

The move comes ahead of the expected arrival of the first iPhone to run on Sprint’s network. The change is also the second time in less than a year that the company has made its upgrade policy more stringent. Earlier this year, Sprint also added a $10 surcharge for most smartphones.

The company said it will phase out both the gold and silver tiers of the program; gold members eligible for new phones each year have until the end of the year to use their last upgrade.

Also, last Friday the company switched from a 30-day “satisfaction guarantee” to a two-week return policy.

“The new return policy now gives customers the opportunity to try Sprint products and services for 14 days, which is in line with the return policies of some other competitors,” a Sprint representative told AllThingsD.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus