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80,000+ customers have already written one of the "Dear John" styled letters

"It's not me, it's you."
 
That's the message many Americans are sending their carriers, courtesy of America's favorite rabble-rousing underdog, T-Mobile USA. 
 
Currently in fourth place, the subsidiary of Germany's Deutsche Telekom AG (ETR:DIE) last year became the nation's fastest growing wireless carrier, thanks to its new CEO John Legere's penchant for aggressive advertising and T-Mobile's move to position itself as an "uncarrier".
 
The long-haired Legere looks more the part of an aging rock star than an executive leader perhaps.  He's more at home in a leather jacket than a suit.  But as Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg taught us, today's tech visionaries don't necessary come sporting a cookie-cutter suit and tie.

John Legere
John Legere -- the rock star CEO [Image Source: T-Mobile USA]

T-Mobile's return to growth has been as unpredictable and as fiercely independent as its chief's fashion sense.  In Q4 2013 T-Mobile USA added nearly 1.65 million new customers, a result will likely best Verizon Inc.'s (VZ) -- the nation's largest carrier.  Credit Suisse Group AG (CS) analysts predicted 1.5 million adds from Big Red (Verizon) who reports its earnings tomorrow.  If those numbers pan out, it would mark the third straight quarter Verizon fell short of T-Mobile in growth.
 
T-Mobile's unsubsidized, contract-free business model is proving a disruptive power in the U.S. market.  AT&T Inc. (T) was so riled by the move, that it specifically targeted T-Mobile customers with a special $450 USD incentive for jumping back on a binding contract.  That move was labeled as "desperate" by T-Mobile's John Legere, who salted the wound by offering a $350 USD counterincentive to pay the early termination fees (ETFs) of AT&T customers who ditch the contract (plus a $300 USD phone trade-in credit for up to $650 USD).
 
In recent weeks that incentive has proven so popular that T-Mobile has decided to expand it to cover customers of Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel Corp. (S).
 
T-Mobile's latest effort to get under its rival's skin is "The Break Up Letter", a Facebook, Inc. (FB) app that allows users to vent their frustrations to their current carrier.  As silly as the concept sounds, it seems to have yet again struck gold in terms of tapping into public frustrations over pricing and service in the U.S. wireless industry.

T-Mobile breakup letter app

So far over 80,000 people have written a breakup letter to Sprint, Verizon, or AT&T, according to Reuters.  T-Mobile USA spokeswoman Anne Marshall tells Reuters:

As you can see from some of the breakup letters, people do say who they're breaking up with. In fact, customers are making signs, wanting to get their photo taken - they really want to have fun with it.

Of course not all the letter writers are actually switching, but the enthusiastic response certainly will give T-Mobile more firepower public relations-wise in months to come.
 
And to add one more dig, after crashing AT&T's Jan. 8 CES party where indie rappers Macklemore and Ryan Lewis were performing, John Legere initially said he crashed the event because his company wasn't blowing money on concerts.  But this week he changed his tune, announcing T-Mobile would look to one up AT&T with its own show on Jan. 23 featuring Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.  Mr. Legere stated:

My appreciation for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis seems to be the worst kept secret in the social hemisphere.  Their ability to shake things up and keep it real for their fans is a lot like the Un-carrier moves we've been making.

Macklemore
T-Mobile is hosting a Macklemore concert of its own. [Image Source: Getty Images]

The concert will be held at the Belasco Center, with 1,400 tickets available for sale.  Tickets went on sale here on Friday -- it appears to be sold out.  We'll be waiting to here if AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson crashes the show – but somehow we doubt it will happen.

Sources: Reuters, [2], Facebook [T-Mobile Letter App]





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