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I'm guessing you don't have TEP on your account? If you do, then go to a repair store & it will be fixed/replaced for FREE. If not, what is wrong with your phone? Can you have TEP added and wait a few days then bring it in? I'm actually not sure that there is a wait period or if so, how long it is. I've always had TEP on both phones on my account & have had various phones fixed/replaced over the years. Never paid a cent.
Edit: Of course, I'm pretty sure you can find a used Viper on ebay for about $50. Either way, you will end up with a used Viper. Only difference is that the one you get from Sprint will be factory refurbished and you don't have to worry about getting a bad ESN.