Free wants to change the game on the issue of smartphone subsidies. The operator headed by Xavier Niel has just announced Free Flex, a “transparent” subscription offer that allows the package to be decorrelated from the purchase of a mobile.
It had been a few days since Free had promised us ” transparency “. In a tweet dated July 3, 2021, we could see Xavier Niel parody the film Basic Instinct by explaining precisely that ” what you need with your operator is transparency “.
We expected the Internet service provider to put some order in its Freebox offer, which has become quite opaque. It is not so. The announcement is actually about subsidizing smartphones.
For many years, the operator has been standing up to this practice that its CEO described as ” disguised consumer credit [avec] wear rates of 300 or 400% that the consumer does not see “. Determined to put some order in this, the operator has therefore changed its offer to avoid ” to be had ” as Xavier Niel denounces.
Free Flex: what does that change?
With its program dubbed Free Flex, the operator wants to completely decorrelate the purchase of the telephone and the monthly payment of the package.
Concretely, the new offer of Free makes it possible to spread the payment of a mobile over 24 months, but without linking it to a plan. Free subscriptions remain the same and separate monthly payments are added if you want to leave with a phone in addition to your subscription. No question of changing the price of subscriptions to cover the price of a mobile, and continuing to charge a prohibitive price once the mobile has been paid.
The purchase of a mobile with Free Flex is not subject to any commitment. You can pay monthly payments for 24 months, then buy or return your mobile after this period as you wish. Anyone who wants to own their phone before the end of the 24 months will also be able to do so, simply by paying the cost of the remaining monthly payments.
Free promises to make available ” uwide range with nearly 50 telephone models and over 100 different references. The latest iPhones such as Xiaomi phones are available, and the monthly payments obviously vary depending on the price of the mobile. It is therefore possible to leave with a Redmi 9a for € 2.99 per month and buy it after 24 months by paying a final deposit of € 12. For the iPhone 12, it’s € 19.99 per month then € 100 for the purchase option.
A first payment more or less expensive depending on the phone will also be requested, to leave with a mobile under your arm in addition to the package. The idea is to never pay more than the cash price for a phone. At the end of 24 months, if you decide to return the mobile you have rented, Free promises to recycle it or bring it into the reconditioned circuit if its condition allows it. According to Free this offer ” does not encourage early renewal of the terminal, because the subscriber benefits from an attractive rate for his package at Free price, which is the same with or without a telephone“.
The end of subsidized mobiles?
Free’s offer is not revolutionary but it does bring some clarity to the subsidized mobile market. It is difficult not to see it also as a response to the group action initiated by the UFQ Que Choisir, in 2019, which accused the operator of applying excessive fees in the event of the rental offer being stopped.
This strategic change by Free is actually not entirely a surprise. At the start of 2019, Xavier Niel was already prophesying the fact that “dyears 18 months, you will see, the subsidy will have disappeared in France, that I am sure of it ”. This disappearance will have taken 24 months instead of 18, and is currently only effective with Free, but after all, you are never better served than by yourself.
The Free Flex offer is available today. Former subscribers, like those seduced by this offer, can visit the site to find out.
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