Free has just unveiled its brand new smartphone rental offer. If you’re interested, here are a few things to keep in mind before you get started.
This Tuesday, July 6, Free has just unveiled its new Free Flex offer which seeks to add a bit of ” transparency In your telephone bills. Rather than merging the purchase price of a mobile into that of a package, the operator wants to decorrelate the two billings, by allowing its customers to rent a mobile over 24 months with monthly payments separate from those of the package.
The idea of Free is to avoid inflating the price of plans, which after a while end up costing much more than the price of the phone. But is Free’s rental with purchase options (LOA) really worth it?
Are we really paying the price in cash?
According to the Free press release, “ the total price paid with Free Flex is the same as paying for it in once in cash “. No trick, therefore, you will not pay more for your mobile than if you had bought it without help. But there are still some nuances to add.
First, the mobile does not automatically belong to you after 24 months. As the small lines of the contract explain well, “ at the outcome 24 months, you have the choice between returning your mobile or acquiring it by paying the amount of the purchase option “. If you don’t make up your mind, there will be ” tacit extension of the contract for successive periods of one month “.
In other words, without your intervention, you will continue to pay rental fees even though your monthly payments have reimbursed a significant part of the mobile. After a few months, it will cost you more to continue to rent than to exercise your option to purchase. You will therefore have to be careful since no alert mechanism is provided for when you reach the end of your 24 months.
Is this a good plan?
If you cancel your contract after 24 months, then you should not pay more than if you had bought the phone when you signed up. But spreading your payment over 24 months also has some drawbacks. If you decide to rent the Redmi 9A for example, you will pay € 35 in the first installment, then € 2.99 per month for 24 months and € 12 as a purchase option if you want to keep the mobile. Total cost of the operation: 118.76 €, or the recommended retail price of the mobile.
Except that many Android mobiles see their prices drop after the first months of marketing.. The Redmi 9A is for example already less than 100 € on some sites. So after 24 months you will probably have paid more than if you had bought the phone all at once with a good deal.
Finally, and it is not to be neglected, the price of the first payment necessary for the rental of certain mobiles takes into account current promotions. To rent a Galaxy S21 for example, Free explains that it will be necessary to pay 179 € as the first rent. In reality, an interested person will have to pay € 279 to Free and can then request a refund offer of € 100 from Samsung (offer valid until 08/15/21). In fact, it will therefore be necessary to get out of the almost € 300 immediately before being reimbursed for € 100 in a second step.
What happens in case of problems?
Free’s former rental offer was at the heart of a controversy in 2019, when the UFC-Que Choisir decided to attack Free because of abusive fees exercised in the event of the offer being discontinued. The consumer defense association estimated that the operator sometimes billed without proof for smartphone wear and tear charges.
On the subject, Free told us this time that “ if the subscriber wishes to return his mobile rather than keep it, only damage attributable to improper use (excluding breakdowns or wear) is subject to compensation, which is capped at the maximum purchase option amount “. And if there are any concerns during the 24 month period, “the subscriber has the option of having his mobile repaired in a partner network or select another smartphone after having settled the remainder to be paid. “
There is no doubt that the UFC-Que Choisir will remain attentive to the practices of Free on the subject.
Finally, is it worth it?
Free’s offer respects the promise of “transparency»Since the rental is beautiful and quite independent of the package. So much so that it is quite possible to cancel your Free package while continuing to take advantage of the rental offer offered by the operator.
But beyond the issues of transparency, economically Free’s rental offer does not revolutionize much. Spreading the payment over 24 months makes it easier to afford a high-end mobile, but you have to be aware of the limits of the system and read the small lines carefully.
Free Flex is designed for the public who wants to afford a phone, without worrying about hunting for good deals, and who remains attentive to the monthly fees associated with such programs.
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