Sprint FanView Activation Scam?

Josh CorderContributor INovember 24, 2009

WATKINS GLEN, NY - AUGUST 12:  Fans react to Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet, losing the lead after driving off track on the final lap of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Centurion Boats at The Glen at Watkins Glen International on August 12, 2007 in Watkins Glen, New York.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images

The Sprint FanView is the next generation racing scanner that provides pre-set driver channels, instant audio replays, real-time driver and race statistics, live race video, in-car camera angles, and ESPN and SPEED video feeds when at the race track.  All of this comes at a suggested retail price of $369.95.  In addition, Sprint advertises that a $10 activation is required for each race weekend.  The units can be activated at Sprint Kiosks or Racing Electronics hauler located throughout the track.  

Recently, when attending the NASCAR Banking 500 at Charlotte, I could not locate a Sprint Kiosk or a Racing Electronics hauler on the Turn 2 side of the track.  When inquiring about their locations from a Racing Radios representative, I was informed that the units did not require activation each weekend and it would function as expected if I just turned the unit on and waited for it to load.

Much to my surprise, she was correct.  The unit powered up, received a signal, and worked throughout the entire race with no issues.  The following weekend at Martinsville, the unit also performed as expected without activation. 

After attending those two races, I sent a well informed letter to the BBB and the North Carolina Attorney General's Office explaining what appears to be a blatant ripoff of NASCAR fans all over the country.  Today I received a phone call from a Sprint representative, who will remain anonymous, informing me that the unit did indeed require activation.  To my surprise, the fact that my unit worked for two weekends in a row without activation did not seem to be proof enough to him that Sprint is charging people erroneous fees. 

If you have a FanView, there is a good chance you have paid the activation fee multiple times.  The next time you are at a race, make sure you try the FanView's functionality before you activate it.  Chances are, you too may be able to use your FanView without activating it. 

If you have any feedback about using your FanView unit at the track without paying the activation fee, I want to know.  If we can get more people on the bandwagon, maybe we can catch Sprint willfully practicing bad, and possibly illegal, business practices.  I will be sure to keep you informed of any news. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Edit:  I am definitely not complaining about the fact that I received the FanView service for free.  My take is that if the FanView may work without activation, Sprint shouldn't lead us to believe we have to activate it each race.  If the wording was changed in the Sprint FanView User Guide to say "activation may be required for your FanView to function properly" or "activation required for latest driver to crew audio feeds" I wouldn't be complaining at all.  Thank you for your feedback!