Sprint offers home delivery and setup of smartphones, tablets

The offer is limited to eligible upgrade customers

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Credit: Michael Homnick

Faced with a highly competitive market, U.S. wireless operator Sprint is offering to deliver and set up phones, tablets and other connected devices for free at homes, offices and other locations chosen by the customer.

The offer is limited to eligible upgrade customers, but starting in September, new customers in selected markets will be able to choose the new Direct 2 You option, when buying online or through call centers.

Launching in the Kansas City metropolitan area on Monday, the program will be expanded across the country using about 5,000 branded cars and employing 5,000 staff by year end. A rollout in Miami and Chicago is scheduled for April 20.

Deliveries, however, will be confined to specific zones in the cities.

The bid by the carrier to bring "in-store experience" to homes and offices includes delivery of the phone and setting up the device by a Sprint-trained expert. The representative will transfer content from the earlier phone, and provide a tutorial and offer tips on the use of the new device.

The operator's representative will also use the visit to give a quote for the existing phone under the Sprint Buyback offer.

Sprint said it developed the service based on customer research and insights that indicated "the need for a revolutionary service like this one." Customers will be alerted to the offer to upgrade their phone by text or email.

Sprint's move comes as the company planned to set up 1,435 co-branded stores at RadioShack stores over the weekend. The company said its aim is to help consumers get phones in the most convenient way. "If it's a personalized delivery -- we can do that now. If it's about a great in-store service, we can provide that as well," according to a company FAQ. A Delaware bankruptcy judge approved a plan earlier this month to sell about 1,700 stores of the electronics retailer to hedge fund Standard General.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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