Sprint yanks Palm Pre incentive

The operator said the $US100 service offer for new Pre customers was made by mistake

Sprint has pulled a $US100 service credit for new Palm Pre buyers just hours after it made the offer.

Earlier on Tuesday Sprint began offering $US100 worth of service to people who switch to the operator and buy a Pre. In some areas, the deal might still appear on Sprint's Web site. But hours after posting the deal online, Sprint said it had removed it.

"After further internal review today, the offer of a port-in service credit of $US100 to new customers who buy the Palm Pre has been pulled, because it was put into the system in error," James Fisher, a Sprint spokesman, said in a statement.

Sprint will honor the offer for customers who signed up for it during the time it was available, he said.

As of midafternoon Tuesday the offer was still available to users accessing the Web in Seattle, although not entirely clearly. The offer was described on the main page for the Palm Pre on Sprint's Web site as being available until Oct. 31. Clicking through for more details opened a page that said the deal would be available until Oct. 10, and that the $US100 credit would be spread out over three months.

It also said that the deal couldn't be combined with other discounts or rebates. The Pre currently costs $US200 after $US250 in "instant savings" and a $US100 mail-in rebate. It's unclear if the $US100 service credit would have simply replaced the mail-in rebate or added to it.

Sprint has been rapidly losing customers and money amid customer service issues. It's unclear if the launch of the Pre in June has helped the company, since neither Palm nor Sprint will say how many of the devices have been sold. After a positive launch, analysts have said recently that they think sales have slowed and dropped below the operator's expectations.

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Nancy Gohring

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