US Cellular is abandoning its Belief Project branding, along with several of the customer service perks that came along with it.
The regional operator confirmed to FierceWireless on Wednesday that it was discontinuing the moniker "The Belief Project," the Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT)-driven initiative it launched in 2010 to overhaul its customer service. (See: U.S. Cellular Believes in SPIT.)
Specifically, a spokeswoman tells Fierce that the changes include:
- US Cellular customers will have to sign up for a new two-year contract if they purchase a subsidized device. The Belief Project initially did away with that requirement for customers after their original two-year contracts expired.
- There will no longer be a 3 percent discount for signing up for automatic payments.
- New customers can no longer opt to upgrade their phones every 10 to 11 months, although existing customers in the program can continue to do so.
- In April, US Cellular discontinued its Battery Swap program that lets customers bring in an old battery for a new one.
So, what's left? The carrier says it's maintaining its customer reward program that offers perks like earlier phone upgrades, free accessories and ringtones, devices, memorabilia, and tickets to events. It will also continue to cap overages at $50 for single-line plans and $150 for family plans.
Why this matters
US Cellular made a big splash with Project Belief three years ago, advertising in all its major markets and highlighting how it sets it apart from its bigger rivals in the US. At the time it was announced, executives told Light Reading it was the biggest transformation in the operator's 27-year history, involving a number of customer-facing elements as well as behind-the-scenes SPIT tools like real-time service assurance probes, IP-based fault management, customer data inspection tools, and deep-packet inspection (DPI).
The operator hasn't yet outlined what SPIT tools it would still employ, but the changes are likely coming under the direction of new CEO Kenneth Meyers as he tries to make up for customer loss and heightened competition.
US Cellular just recently got the iPhone, much later than its competitors, lost its CEO Mary Dillon, who initiated Project Belief, and sold its spectrum in its two biggest markets, Chicago and St. Louis, to Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S). It's down from 6.1 million customers to about 5 million, but it's using its extra cash from the sale to build out LTE in its remaining markets.
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- U.S. Cellular's CIO/CTO Combo
- US Cellular Believes in Customer Service
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading