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The new offering launches tomorrow

T-Mobile continues to wave its "UnCarrier" flag at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) with an announcement we've all been hearing about and is now confirmed: the U.S.' No. 4 carrier will pay new customers' early termination fees (ETFs) if they switch to T-Mobile. 

According to a T-Mobile press release, the carrier is giving new customers a "Get Out of Jail Free Card" that pays up to $350 per line in ETFs when switching from Verizon, AT&T or Sprint over to T-Mobile. 

"We're giving families a 'Get Out of Jail Free Card,'" said John Legere, president and chief executive officer of T-Mobile. "Carriers have counted on staggered contract end dates and hefty early termination fees to keep people bound to them forever. But now families can switch to T-Mobile without paying a single red cent to leave them behind."

In order for new customers to have their ETFs paid, they must first trade in their "eligible" phones from their former carrier (T-Mobile hasn't been real clear on which phones are considered eligible, but they'll likely have to be somewhat newer smartphones) and purchase a new phone from T-Mobile. 

Switching to a T-Mobile postpaid Simple Choice Plan and having their phone number transferred to the new T-Mobile device means the new customers can receive a credit for their phone trade-in of up to $300 based on the value of their old model. 

From there, the customer just has to mail their final bill from their old carrier to T-Mobile (or upload it at www.switchtotmobile.com) and T-Mobile will pay up to $350 in ETFs per line. 


John Legere [SOURCE: The New York Times]

There is a catch, though, other than wondering which phones are considered "eligible." There is a five line limit for those switching over that want their ETFs taken care of. 

According to T-Mobile, the combined value for each new customer switching over could be as much as $650 (depending on which device is traded in and how much the ETF cost is, of course). The new offering launches tomorrow and looks like it'll be a permanent thing instead of a limited time offer. 

T-Mobile's UnCarrier strategy has certainly shaken up the wireless industry. Last year, it eliminated contracts for reduced cell phone plans in March and introduced an early phone upgrade program in July. Then, in October, it started offering a free unlimited international text and data plan.

It looks like these UnCarrier offerings are working out in T-Mobile's favor, since the carrier announced its best quarter in eight years today. According to T-Mobile, Q4 2013 saw the addition of 1.645 million new T-Mobile customers, bringing its total for 2013 to 4.4 million new customers. This is huge for T-Mobile, considering it lost 32,000 customers in the same quarter one year earlier.

Postpaid, in particular, experienced a dramatic shift for the quarter with 869,000 new customers compared to losing 515,000 for the same quarter in 2012.

"Our Un-carrier moves have clearly upended this industry," said Legere. "Over the past 12 months, 4.4 million customers have come to T-Mobile in response to greater flexibility and choice.  We have clearly struck a chord with customers and will continue to look for ways to expand on that in 2014."  

Full fourth quarter results are expected to be released on February 25.

With results like these, other U.S. carriers are trying to keep up. For instance, Sprint announced its new "Framily Plan" today, which is a new friends and family plan that allows up to 10 people to make up one framily account. The first customer pays $55 a month for the first line of service, and for each additional customer that joins the framily plan, the cost per person goes down $5 a month up to a maximum monthly discount of $30 a month.

Sources: T-Mobile [1], [2]



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T-mobile deserves it
By retrospooty on 1/9/2014 7:53:15 AM , Rating: 5
While most carriers close the doors and brainstorm new ways to try and screw their customers and add bloatware, and trick people into services they don't need (like Verizon Navigation for $10 a month LOL), T-Mobile seems to be actively trying to think of ways to win customers back with good offers at good prices.

It's kind of refreshing.




RE: T-mobile deserves it
By PaFromFL on 1/9/2014 8:12:04 AM , Rating: 2
I suspect Walmart no-contract plans are putting pressure on the major carriers. Tracfone now costs about $100/yr for 3000 minutes, and StraightTalk is $45/month for "unlimited" use (2.5 GB/month before throttling).


RE: T-mobile deserves it
By PaFromFL on 1/9/2014 8:21:45 AM , Rating: 2
I just noticed the Tracfone plans are now more expensive. It's now $160 per year for 3000 minutes with a triple-minute phone, and you only get 1200 minutes per year for $100.


RE: T-mobile deserves it
By Samus on 1/9/2014 12:14:55 PM , Rating: 2
The real competition is Virgin Wireless ($35/month and iPhone options) and Ting (bring your own device + pay as you go) although Ting isn't good for people who use a lot of data, but if you're on Wifi at home/work its mostly irrelevant. But at $6/line, Ting definitely wins hands-down against anybody for family/business use.

Ironically both are CDMA Sprint MVNO's, so YMMV for service quality in BFE.


RE: T-mobile deserves it
By phxfreddy on 1/11/2014 6:54:33 AM , Rating: 2
What is a "Tract Phone"?

...and how do they keep the digestive enzymes out of it?


RE: T-mobile deserves it
By Reclaimer77 on 1/9/2014 10:18:32 AM , Rating: 2
The test will be how T-Mobile treats existing customers once the become a "big deal" and no longer need to be ultra-competitive. Here's hoping...

Because this is an offer I cannot refuse. Bye bye Verizon. ASSUMING my old Motorola with a cracked screen qualifies.


RE: T-mobile deserves it
By Jeffk464 on 1/9/2014 12:08:46 PM , Rating: 2
Tmobile doesn't lock customers in for two years so they have to remain an attractive option. I cancelled my verizon contract around Xmas and will be going tmobile as soon as my nexus 5 arrives.


RE: T-mobile deserves it
By ven1ger on 1/9/2014 2:34:30 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. Didn't think about it before, but customers get locked in easily to the two year contracts and they keep auto-renewing because people get lazy like myself. And if you're on a family plan where you added lines after the initial plan, you have staggered expirations on some of the lines that it makes it difficult to get out of the 2-year contract because of the ETF.

I feel refreshed that I'm no longer locked into a contract with T-Mobile and if T-Mobile becomes unattractive as a carrier, I can move to another telcom any time without having to worry about ETFs. Telcoms like Sprint, Verizon and AT&T still think they can fleece the consumer but consumers are wising up and moving to T-Mobile because they just want service at a decent cost as long as they don't feel like they are getting fleeced. The old contract plans with ETFs are no longer sustainable for the consumer.


RE: T-mobile deserves it
By Jeffk464 on 1/9/2014 3:16:07 PM , Rating: 2
Yup I will own my phone outright so I can easily jump back and forth between AT&T and Tmobile


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