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Sprint touts business customer guarantee

Companies can get money back for dropped calls, network problems, as more businesses manage employee wireless accounts.

Sprint is offering a cell phone service contract for businesses that guarantees money back for unsatisfactory performance.

The company on Monday announced what it claims is the first service-level agreement (SLA) for new and renewing business subscribers. Under the contract, customers receive a 10 percent credit if more than 2 percent of calls are dropped during a billing period, for instance.

The move is an effort by Sprint to appeal to business customers, as more and more companies manage their employees' wireless accounts. "We are just giving our customers what they want," a Sprint representative said.

However, such contracts--especially for wireless providers--can be dangerous, some analysts say. Cell phone service providers, more than most other communications services, are at the mercy of factors beyond their control, especially meteorological hindrances.

While cell phones have become a staple for mobile professionals, many businesses still rely on their employees to get the phones and contracts, then reimburse them for their expenses.

But that's changing, according to carriers. At Sprint, for example, more than half of its business-class cell phone customers are corporate-managed accounts, meaning that the company supplies the phones and negotiates the deals.