AT&T Bribing Customers, T-Mobile CEO Claims

by Matt Klassen on January 6, 2014

It wasn’t so long ago that AT&T wanted to purchase its smaller rival T-Mobile, now it simply wants to put it out of business. Earlier this week AT&T announced it was offering T-Mobile customers up to $450 for switching their mobile devices over to Ma Bell’s network, a tantalizing promotion in a competitive market where a carrier’s churn rate rules the day.

Surprisingly though T-Mobile doesn’t seem phased by the announcement and instead of launching a verbal assault against its larger competitor, company CEO John Legere took a different tack, exchanging a war of words for a simple and direct assessment of the situation, hinting that this was “bribery” from AT&T and nothing more, adding that T-Mobile’s customers “won’t be fooled.”

In fact, AT&T can offer T-Mobile customers anything it wants, as the reality is that, “Nothing has changed — customers will still feel the same old pain that AT&T is famous for,” Legere said in an e-mailed statement. Further, he hinted that mobile customers would be wise to wait for this year’s CES conference before making a long term decision about carriers, as T-Mobile has something big up its sleeve.

Despite what AT&T officially says, its clear T-Mobile’s revolutionary UnCarrier campaign has thrown Ma Bell for a bit of a loop. Not only did AT&T have to play follow-the-leader with its ill-conceived Next plan when T-Mobile unveiled its own early-upgrade Jump and its various no-contract options, but its become clear now that T-Mobile has become such a fly in AT&T’s ointment that the country’s second largest carrier is willing to pay customers to switch, a classic promotional ploy that is only now being employed in the mobile industry.

AT&T’s plan is to offer customers a $200 credit for switching their service, throwing in an extra promotional card worth up to $250 for every smartphone subscribers trade-in.

But as I mentioned, T-Mobile is not phased and instead the fourth place carrier seems downright cocky about is changing position in the mobile market: it has its larger competitors worried, and it knows it.

In fact, Legere boasted that given what T-Mobile has in store for this year’s CES conference, held this week inLas Vegas, AT&T will have to offer a lot more than $200 for customers to take the bait. “Just wait until CES to hear what pain points we are eliminating next,” the slightly eccentric Legere said during his response to AT&T’s recent promotional shenanigans. “The competition is going to be toast!”

As expected, AT&T has downplayed the entire situation, stating that its latest promotional campaign specifically targeting T-Mobile customers is nothing personal, it’s simply the way of doing business in a mobile market where 99 percent of the available consumer base is already locked into some sort of wireless agreement. But of course such claims that Ma Bell is unaffected by its smaller competitor will hold little water when we once again see AT&T slap together some response to whatever T-Mobile has in store for us at CES 2013.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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