April 13, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
Sprint has joined AT&T and T-Mobile as U.S. carriers that now accept direct billing of Android Market apps to monthly invoices. A tipster notified AndroidCentral that the option started appearing and when I went to purchase SPB Shell 3D for Android, sure enough there was the option to charge the purchase to my monthly statement.
The inclusion of Sprint finally pushes Google closer to having its goal of carrier billing become a strong option for app purchases. The Android Market previously required a Google Checkout account tied to a credit card, which some saw as a hurdle to buying apps. This new method simplifies the buying process and allows users to just tack-on the charge to the monthly statement they receive for their contract with Sprint.
T-Mobile was the first carrier to provide carrier billing for Android app purchases in December 2009. AT&T then followed suit a year later, so maybe Verizon will join the party in December 2011 if trends hold up?
According to a memo from Sprint, carrier billing will be enabled through an Android Market update pushed silently to the phone. Users will not have to accept any update or do anything for the option to appear. (Mine came this morning without me doing anything.) All Sprint customers should have the update by tomorrow, April 14, 2011. More info from the memo is posted below.
Starting 4/7/11, Sprint Consumer and Individual Liable (IL) customers who have the ability to purchase third party content through the Google (Android) Marketplace will be provided the option to bill their purchase directly to their Sprint Invoice, also referred to as carrier billing.
Rollout of Android Marketplace carrier billing will be staggered between 4/7/11 and 4/14/11.
Corporate Liable (CL) customers will be systematically opted out of the program.
Customers who “opted out” for content purchases will be presented with the option to bill to account but will not be able to successfully purchase using this payment option.
Consumer and IL customers can change their premium content opt in/out status via sprint.com or by calling Customer Care. Bill to Sprint invoice is not available on the HTC Hero or Samsung Moment.
There is no change to how customers access, manage or request refunds for Android Marketplace purchases. Customers will continue to contact Google or the 3rd party content provider for refunds and support of the application.
Customers receive an email with each purchase providing the contact information for support of purchases.
The line charge on the invoice will be the total amount and Sprint will not incorporate additional taxes.
Charges will typically appear on the next bill cycle and will appear in the premium content section with an Android Market notation. Account Spending Limit balances will apply for ASL customers as purchases
will count as part of their spending limit.