A common issue when picking up a new smartphone on an 18 or 24-month contract is that your device will almost always be obsolete well before the end of your service agreement. This is especially true in the Android space, where manufacturers seem to be continually one-upping each other (and themselves) with new high-end devices every few months.
Independent UK retailer Phones4U has today launched a new service which could allow customers to keep up-to-date with the latest handsets throughout the life of their contract. JUMP ("Just Upgrade My Phone") splits customers' monthly bills into a phone service part, payable to the carrier, and a "JUMP service agreement" bill, payable to Phones4U. Then, after six or more months, customers can choose to upgrade their handset, trading in their existing phone in the process. The remaining JUMP balance that's payable until the end of the contract is then offset against the price of the phone, and a new handset can be chosen, the cost of which is added to the JUMP balance.
The bottom line is that you'd be able to upgrade your phone during the life of your contract, in exchange for a somewhat increased monthly fee.
It takes a while to wrap your head around what's actually going on, but effectively customers are being given the chance to re-jig the part of their monthly payment that covers the cost of the phone. It's probably not going to be economical to upgrade three times within a 24-month contract, but it is at least more affordable than blowing £500 on a new handset in the middle of your contract.
JUMP is launching in Phones4U stores from today, and online from May. We've got the full presser after the jump.
PHONES 4U LAUNCHES ‘JUMP’
New type of contract gives customers the freedom to change their handset as often as every six months
10th February 2012: Phones 4u is today announcing the national rollout of JUMP (‘Just Upgrade My Phone’) – a new type of contract which enables consumers to upgrade their mobile phone, from a selection of the latest smartphones on the market, as often as every 6 months.
Differing from other flexible offerings on the market, JUMP doesn’t require any upfront fees at the point of upgrade and customers own rather than lease the handset. For the added flexibility of being able to upgrade as often as every six months, customers will only need to initially pay an average added monthly cost of £2.99 - £3.99, dependent on the original JUMP contract chosen.
JUMP has been successfully trialled since May 2011 in 100 stores. The national rollout begins today and the offering is expected to be available in all of Phones 4u’s 586+ stores, via Phones 4u online and via Phones 4u telesales by May 2012. We will also be supporting JUMP as part of a wider multi-million pound ATL Phones 4u campaign this year.
Alistair Firth, Director of Customer Development at Phones 4u said: “Technology is moving fast and innovative handsets are launching all the time on the market but to date there’s been a disconnect between the frequency of smartphone releases and the length of mobile phone contracts on offer.We want to give our customers the freedom to own the very latest smartphones like the iPhone 4S without having to wait 18-24 months for an upgrade. The idea for JUMP was born out of research we conducted that revealed people were frustrated by the inability to upgrade their handsets sooner”.
JUMP’s unique proposition is that instead of offering one contract to customers with a mobile network, it’s been broken down into two; one with the airtime provider for minutes, texts and data and one with Phones 4u for the handset, which are both for a minimum term of 24 months. This provides the customer with total ownership of the handset and their monthly pay plan. When customers choose to upgrade, there is no upfront fee involved – they can trade in the handset, which Phones 4u guarantees will be worth at least £100 for the first 12 months, along with up to two more, and create a new plan. Alternatively, they do have the option of keeping it for themselves or giving it to someone else.
“We conducted extensive research prior to the trial and national roll-out to inform the JUMP model and ensure it truly met consumer needs”, adds Firth. “We discovered 18-35 year olds don’t want to return a handset on a leasing model. This is because they are used to keeping handsets as part of their mobile phone contract, they hold concerns over losing data or voiding the warranty if they customize the phone, and worry about paying a surcharge if the phone is damaged. We used these findings to help shape the JUMP offering and believe it offers the best flexibility and benefits of any deal currently available on the market”.
As part of the JUMP service, Phones 4u is also offering remote data back-up and storage for contacts, music, pictures and videos, as well as dedicated customer support accessible via a dedicated number and website. Phones 4u aims to attract new customers with the JUMP offering, who want the option to own the latest smartphones when they want, at an affordable monthly cost, and which offers additional services currently not available as part of other smartphone contracts.