OVERLAND PARK, Kan., May 18 (UPI) -- U.S. phone service Sprint said it would mitigate the hardship on U.S. Cellular customers affected by Sprint's purchase of some of Cellular's business.
Sprint closed Friday on a $480 million purchase of U.S. Cellular's spectrum in central Illinois and St. Louis, a deal that also affects some customers in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, the Chicago Tribune reported Saturday.
But U.S. Cellular phones do not work with Sprint's system.
Sprint said 420,000 customers would be affected by the purchase. They will have a transition period before their U.S. Cellular phones stop working and the time-line for that has not been determined, the newspaper said.
In the meantime, Sprint said it would offer those customers with smartphones a $100 "port-in" credit and a $50 service credit. It also said it would waive a $36 activation fee incurred by new customers.
For customers with "feature phones," Sprint is offering only the $50 service credit, which can be applied to a monthly bill.
Customers will incur "virtually no cost" due to the acquisition, said Sprint regional vice president Kevin Gleason.
"We're very sensitive to those customers who have made purchasing decisions in the last six months -- we understand they just made their investment," Gleason said.
The only customers who will have out-of-pocket expenses due to the acquisition are those choosing to upgrade their phones. But they would have incurred the same expenses if they had upgraded with U.S. Cellular, Gleason said.