"However, with Sprint already involved in a complicated transaction expected to take several months to get completed, the assumption was the company wouldn't further tangle itself up with another deal". CNET has obviously not met Sprint.
I don't see a bill shock problem. What I see as a problem is below the line fees. The whole price should be quoted when I look up the phone and service. They are able to give you all the prices cause they know where you are so the computer can be set to add the taxes and fees. Every wireless provider I have checked online seems to ask me my zipcode. They have the info after that.
Even if they didn't include the taxes I think they should get into trouble for the below the line charges that aren't really a tax. If the is part of what the company gets then it should have been part of the quote.