We told you it was coming.
It’s not quite a full-fledged Un-carrier move, but T-Mobile is stirring the pot in a relatively quiet second quarter this week with an offer urging Verizon customers to “get out of the red.”
Starting at the end of this month, T-Mobile said it will let Verizon customers keep their phone and pay off any outstanding device balance when they hop on T-Mobile’s One unlimited plan.
“There is no such thing as a Verizon Pixel. It’s just a Pixel, and today, many of the most popular smartphones, including the Pixel, work great on all networks. But the carriers still require you to trade-in a perfectly fine smartphone when you switch—simply to get you on the hook for a brand new device,” T-Mobile’s press release read. “Over the past four years, U.S. wireless customers wasted more than $1.6 billion dollars trading in phones that work great. It’s no surprise a full 75 percent of people say they wish they could keep their phone if they switched carriers.”
The offer applies to Verizon customers who owe anywhere from $1 to $1,000, the Un-carrier said, but for now is limited to users with the iPhone SE, 6s, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus, or Google Pixel (standard or XL). T-Mobile indicated that’s because devices need “certain software” to be globally compatible and not all phones have that yet. The Un-carrier said it’s working with OEMs to make more phones eligible for the promotion.
Similarly, the “get out of the red” offer doesn’t apply to AT&T and Sprint customers because T-Mobile noted devices from those carriers must be unlocked before they can be used on the T-Mobile network. But the Un-carrier said it’s still willing to pay off early termination fees and phone payments for AT&T and Sprint customers when they switch and get a new phone on an Equipment Installment Plan.
T-Mobile is bundling its Verizon offer with an additional promotion that offers customers with two T-Mobile One voice lines an additional two lines of service for the price of one.
The move comes as T-Mobile looks to stir up switching activity amid a quarter in which execs admitted Verizon has achieved some year-over-year improvement in its porting ratios against the Un-carrier. Last week, T-Mobile COO Mike Sievert partially attributed the bump to Verizon’s introduction of unlimited data plans and promotional phone offers, or, as he put it, the way the carrier is “throwing the kitchen sink at it right now.” A relatively calm competitive market has also played a role this quarter, he said. The solution to that? “We have to do moves to create switching,” Sievert said.
And voila. We’ll see how much it pays off when earnings roll around again.