Last week, AT&T offered T-Mobile customers up to $450 in credits to jump ship. Today, T-Mobile upped the ante, saying it will pay customers of its three major rivals – AT&T, Sprint and Verizon – as much as $650 per line to switch carriers.
The offer includes a credit of up to $300 for trading in a phone from a customer’s old carrier that can be used to buy a new phone, including the latest models from Samsung and Apple. T-Mobile will also pick up the tab for early termination fees – up to $350. A family can switch over as many as five lines and phones, which could result in a credit of $3250.
T-Mobile is the smallest (by subscribers) of the four major carriers, but its aggressive “uncarrier” marketing campaign has succeeded in signing up more new customers recently than its larger rivals.
“Customers tell me repeatedly, I love what you’re doing, I wish I could switch, but I’m handcuffed,” said John Legere, T-Mobile’s chief executive, at the company’s press conference on Wednesday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
To qualify, customers will have to show documentation that they left a carrier and paid an early termination fee and also buy a new phone from T-Mobile. The offer is only being extended to customers of the three other major carriers; customers of other companies are not elibible.
The carrier’s newly aggressive stance is being driven by market saturation. It’s becoming hard to find people who don’t have a wireless plan and before long, nearly 90 percent of all wireless customers will already own a smartphone, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said recently.
The old tactics of selling smartphones at subsidized prices and locking customers into long-term contracts, aren’t working very well for the carriers anymore. But things are looking up for the consumer.
San Francisco journalist Bill Snyder writes frequently about business and technology. His work appears regularly in CIO.com and the publications of Stanford's Graduate School of Business and the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley. He welcomes your comments and suggestions.