What good is a warranty if you have to pay for service? That’s a question asked of Sprint for the past few years, though we never got a good response. Customers with the standard one-year warranty had to pay a fee of $35 to $55, or else mail the phone to the manufacturer, which is for some people simply impossible. The alternative, which was surely the idea behind the policy, was to pay $4 per month for an upgraded warranty program. As of this past Sunday, April 19, Sprint has altered their warranty policy, and it’s a consumer-friendly change. Imagine that. Sprint has for long been the scapegoat of the wireless industry, but this move is a universally positive one. If a customer’s phone need service within the standard warranty period, she can take it to a Sprint Nextel service location for repairs. The standard warranty is defined as one year from the activation date. After that date customers will have to pay $99 for service on cell phones and broadband cards, and $119 for smart devices. The $4 add-on will extend the warranty, so repairs after one year are still free. Physical damage will still cost $99 or $119. After a bit of confusion, Sprint has explicitly stated that Software Updates will be free, even if the phone is out of warranty. To pay $99 for a firmware upgrade would be downright horrible for the consumer, and would undoubtedly discourage such upgrades. This covers all software upgrades. On the poor end — and it seems there’s always a poor end for Sprint — they’ve increased their restocking fee to $35 from $25. This concerns phones returned within the 30-day trial period Sprint offers. The first step, though, is to actually charge the fee. Apparently, many dealers ignored this fee in the past. So the fee essentially could be a $35 increase, depending on how each store handled the policy previously.