T-Mobile CEO claims $10 charge for “free” tablet data was a mistake

T-Mobile (Uncarrier 001)

I gave T-Mobile a lot of props this past week for truly trying to break the mold and do something that no other carrier has done — offering free data to iPad users. I probably should have just kept my mouth shut until I was able to put its claims to the test.

That’s because When I walked into a T-Mobile store this morning, the reps told me that I needed to either be a paying phone customer, or pay $10 a month to claim my 200MB worth a free data. While I don’t blame T-Mobile for wanting to make money, this was the exact opposite of its “no strings attached” claims on its website and in the press.

This wasn’t just a one off. Every single T-Mobile store that I called this morning reiterated the idea that I needed to be a paying customer. All of them said the exact same thing, making it evident that it had to be a company line.

John Legere, T-Mobile’s CEO, stated via Twitter that it was an “executional mistake.” But how can a mistake be so pervasive throughout the company, unless some of its leaders were pushing the idea?

Obviously, there’s no way to know for sure, but something tells me that T-Mobile would have just rolled with this if the customer outrage wasn’t so audible. Numerous blogs reported about customers, or potential customers, being dissatisfied with T-Mobile’ bait and switch technique, whether it was intentional or not.

Yes, T-Mobile has changed its tune, and hopefully will be honoring its free 200MB data plan for tablet users. But it didn’t come without losing much of the good will it built up among myself and countless others.