T-Mobile steps up rhetoric with newspaper ad likening AT&T to Death Star

T-Mobile (CES 2014 building 001)

T-Mobile persists in its anti-AT&T rhetoric and today marks a new chapter in AT&T trash-talking as the nation’s fourth-largest wireless company puts out a press release ridiculing AT&T’s $450 incentive for T-Mobile subscribers to switch.

Conveniently timed on the same day that AT&T released its Christmas quarter earnings report, the press release argues that AT&T’s offer makes T-Mobile’s own incentive to pay ETFs to switch a no-brainer because AT&T customers can now go to T-Mobile and then come back at no cost.

Seriously, if a customer takes advantage of T-Mobile’s ETF offer and later decides he or she dislikes it for whatever reason, AT&T will pay $450 to take them back so they don’t really lose anything. The Deutsche Telekom-owned operator has also revealed advertisements that should appear in print newspapers today to communicate this message nationwide…

Here’s an excerpt from T-Mobile’s “press release”:

“Call it an awakening,” said Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T Mobility, “but I felt it was time to really stir things up and put the customer first for a change. And by “customer” I’m referring to our former customers who switch to T-Mobile, because our current customers don’t really qualify.”

De la Vega said that the new T-Mobile switching offer was custom designed to entice its millions of contract customers to go ahead and give T-Mobile a try. “If for any reason you don’t love T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network, which is now faster than ours[i], we’ll actually pay you up to $450 to come back to AT&T, I kid you not.”

I’m not making this up, that’s what the media release says.


T-Mobile admits it’s a joke – “Ok, De La Vega didn’t actually say that, but he might as well have” – and goes on to explain why AT&T’s offer to pay early termination fees for customers if they broke up with AT&T and traded in their device for a new one at T-Mobile is now essentially risk free:

If customers making the switch are not completely satisfied with T-Mobile and its state-of-the-art nationwide 4G LTE network (now fastest in the U.S.)i, AT&T will cover the costs for customers switching back to their own slower network, up to $450 with trade-in.

T-Mobile’s tongue-in-cheek press release even links to AT&T’s offer – that’s how confident the company is that AT&T shot itself in the foot.

John Leger (headshot 001)

Of course CEO John Legere, pictured above, couldn’t resist lambasting AT&T, whom it likened to Death Star from Star Wars.

“Wow. I mean … wow,” breathed John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile. “I guess we all have moments of doubt. You know? Like, can the darkness ever be defeated? But that they’ve singled us out in this way is just so affirming. I guess we must be doing something right. I mean, if AT&T can change, it feels like anything’s possible.

“It’s kind of like that scene where Darth Vader’s lying there and Luke helps take off his helmet,” Legere continued, “and you see that, okay, sure, Darth Vader’s pretty ugly, but he’s human after all.”

And this is T-Mobile’s new print ad.

T-Mobile (ATT ad Deathstar)

Despite recent strides – T-Mobile reported adding 869,000 postpaid subscribers during the fourth quarter of 2013 – AT&T remains unfazed by T-Mobile’s action as the firm added 809,000 new subscribers in Christmas quarter.


More importantly, AT&T’s churn rate was notably lower than T-Mobile’s: contract/overall churn rate was at 1.11/1.43 percent at AT&T versus the 1.7 percent churn that T-Mobile had on the quarter.

This particular metric represents the percentage of customers that leave a carrier’s network during any given quarter. According to T-Mobile’s marketing chief Mike Sievert, his company is now adding more than two AT&T customers for each one it loses to the rival carrier, an increase from earlier this month.

But T-Mobile has more pressing issues on its mind than the churn rate.

Even though it had no LTE just a year ago and now blankets 209 million people with 4G LTE signal, the U.S. population sits at nearly 320 million so the company still has a coverage problem on its hands.

What’s the T-Mobile coverage situation in your area like?

Can you access T-Mobile’s LTE service or does the coverage stink?