I got email out of nowhere from Sprint telling me that they’d read my blog and wanted to offer me a chance to use a new, high-speed phone free for six months. The email said:
The Sprint Ambassador Team recently visited Buzzmachine.com and wants to invite you to participate in our Ambassador Program.
The Sprint Ambassador Program is all about exploring our latest products and services and allows you to give direct feedback to Sprint. We recently launched the Sprint Power Vision (SM) Network and want to provide you with the full experience, at no charge. Sprint Power Vision Network enables customers to download data at faster speeds and experience new data products.
The email and the terms and conditions ask to receive feedback but do not require it. I’ll take them at their word that they want feedback and if they get and use response from customers, that can only help them. If I were them, I’d publicize the ideas and feedback I got from customers and used. That is the real feedback loop.
And wisely, not a word is said about blogging this. If they tried to buy publicity with phones, that would not be good. But they’re smarter than that: They know that a blogger must blog. And so here it is: free publicity. And if I find anything noteworthy about the phone, I may blog it again. The publicity they get is not controllable. I could hate the phone (but I probably won’t since I am a gadget addict and a speed freak… and I could also buy the phone and hate it and blog that). It’s a risk, but a small risk well worth taking.
It’s also a very, very inexpensive form of advertising. Note well that I’d be a lot better off if Sprint bought ads on my blog; that would be worth more than and phone and six months of phone service. So it may be nice deal for me, but it’s a far better deal for them. And that’s smart on their part.
Full disclosure: The phone they’re sending is free and the service on it is free for six months. If I want to use the phone after that, I have to pay a signup fee and sign a contract. Sprint is still Sprint. If I do, I will tell you. I’ll add that I do not plan on using the phone after the trial and obviously won’t use it as a primary phone during the period; I already have my expensive Treo.
: I TAKE BACK ALL THE NICE THINGS ABOUT SPRINT I JUST SAID: I just spent three — three! — hours on the phone with Sprint people because the phone I ordered for my parents a week ago was never put through at Sprint and I dealt with no end of cluelessness and no end of hold music and lost calls and bad attitude. You can have a good idea at the top of a company but if the culture still sucks below, your own company will torpedo you. Having subjected you to cunsumerist rants before, I’ll spare you the details on this one. I’ll just say that it doesn’t take much to burn up goodwill.