T-Mobile Advertising Targets “Misguided” AT&T Phone Upgrade Program

By Mike SievertJuly 22, 2013

AT&T just hurled a fastball right down the middle of the plate for us. What else can T-Mobile do but send it screaming out of the park?

Today, we ran national print advertising taking aim (in a fun way, of course) at AT&T’s misguided and less-than-transparent response to our JUMP!™ program.

Obviously JUMP! struck a nerve with both AT&T and Verizon because both felt compelled to follow us with “me-too” programs that claim to serve customers who want the freedom to get the latest and greatest phones without waiting for a two-year service contract to expire.

Had AT&T with “Next” and Verizon with “Edge” really taken our lead and unveiled offerings worthy of serious consumer consideration, we’d have to give them credit. But there’s nothing breakthrough about their programs. They’re poor JUMP! imitations.

On the surface, their programs look okay. For the first time, these old guard phone companies seemed to be acknowledging that a certain segment of customers hates being locked into the same phone for 730 days. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll see they don’t get it at all. Or they don’t want to.

Let’s look at AT&T Next and JUMP! from T-Mobile to see how they really compare. There are real and material differences between what we are doing and the so-called upgrade programs that AT&T and Verizon are doing.

One of the things that makes JUMP! completely different is that it isn’t just about upgrades. Yes, it is an option giving you the flexibility to purchase a new phone twice per year, as soon as six months from enrollment. And yes, existing customers can get the same great pricing as new customers. But JUMP! is so much more. It provides  protection against virtually everything that could possibly go wrong with your phone. It’s protection against it malfunctioning; against it walking off or being stolen; against it breaking or taking a swim; or, most amazingly, against you not wanting it anymore.  You get all of that plus mobile security protection for $10 a month, or $2 more per month than you probably already pay for handset protection alone. In addition, you can get incredibly affordable service rates through our Simple Choice Plan.  We spent many months designing this to provide maximum value to interested customers, and early feedback suggests we accomplished that.

AT&T Next, on the other hand, appears to have been designed without the customer in mind. It allows customers to trade in their mobile devices once per year, so long as customers pay a monthly installment fee based on a 20-month cycle. But here’s the rub: AT&T Next eliminates the big phone discount you typically get when signing up for wireless service, but it doesn’t lower your monthly service rates, which are usually set much higher to offset the cost of offering you that discount.

Get it? They (and you can insert Verizon’s name here too) are essentially charging you twice for the same phone. So you’ll pay more and get much less than you would to protect your phone with JUMP!, which unlike Next provides handset insurance and mobile security. None of this should be a surprise. These guys have a pattern of overcharging you for confusing and useless programs like Next.

As the “Un-carrier,” we talk a lot about transparency at T-Mobile. To us, transparency means being open and honest with customers to provide a simpler, better and more affordable wireless experience. It means never hesitating to tell the truth in a brash way. The only thing transparent about what AT&T just announced is their obvious attempt to squeeze more money from customers. Or as The Verge put it “AT&T’s reaction to T-Mobile’s transparency is to be more deceptive than ever.” While we wouldn't say "deceptive" exactly, it sure isn't a good deal for customers.