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Sprint Buyback Program Ranked No. 1

Sprint Nextel’s phone buyback program is the top-ranked out of major US carriers, according to a report by Compass Intelligence.

For the second consecutive year, Sprint’s trade-in program beat those from Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and US Cellular in overall ranking. The company’s messaging of the program in signage and sponsorships, instant credit in Sprint retail stores, and overall ease and convenience of the customer experience contributed to its top ranking, according to the consulting firm.

Compass Intelligence ranks Verizon second place because of its in-store buyback program launched in February.

While AT&T has an in-store program, it lacks signage and messaging, and T Mobile and US Cellular “fall short overall,” the report says.

Compass Intelligence based the study on primary and secondary research — including more than 7,000 mobile phone users — that evaluated trade-in program capabilities, user experience and expert analysis.

Between January and June 2012, 21 percent of respondents said they completed either a trade-in, buyback or recycled an old mobile phone; of these 40 percent traded in or recycled two or more devices during that time. Additionally, 33 percent of respondents said they planned to conduct a trade-in in the next six months.

Meanwhile, 41 percent said they preferred a carrier-led, in-store experience with instant savings or credit on the bill.

Sprint’s program offers customers a merchandise or service credit of up to $300 when they trade in their eligible wireless devices, regardless of the carrier or manufacturer. The company says it was the first major US wireless provider to offer these buy-back options and incentives in 2010.

The same year, Verizon launched its own online and mail-based wireless trade-in program offering customers from any wireless carrier a Verizon gift card based on the value of the product. Verizon and AT&T launched their in-store programs at the end of 2011, according to the report.

Compass Intelligence predicts that there will be roughly 324 million idle or inactive mobile phones in the US by the end of 2012. Of those, the firm says only about 40 million will be recycled.

Sprint, along with Dell and Sony, last year joined an EPA-industry partnership designed to encourage electronics recycling and better e-waste management.

Sprint also plans to collect 100 percent of its own e-waste for reuse and recycling by 2017, as one of four goals in the company’s Electronics Stewardship Policy.

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