If You're So Uncarrier, Then Why Are So Dishonest With Me?

1/09/2014 Stephen Colbert 0 Comments

I know I've criticized John Legere and T-Mobile before, but he's at it again and it just frustrates me so.  T-Mobile had its "Uncarrier 4.0" announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show yesterday and he's at it again!
I know a lot of people like Legere's rockstar persona and think the way that he's "sticking it" to other carriers is super cool.  I'll admit, there are elements of what he's doing that I would find awesome if it weren't a farce.

I also find a lot of what he does distasteful and untrustworthy.  For example, getting thrown out of AT&Ts CES party.  He claims that he just wanted to see Macklemore, but he knew he would get thrown out.  That's like if Steve Ballmer were to have gone to the iPhone 5 launch event to see the Foo Fighters.  It's shady, he knew he would get thrown out, he knew he would get press over getting thrown out, and he knew he would use that press to make AT&T look like a bully, which they are, but not because they don't want loudmouthed unpredictable competing CEOs at their parties.  He was there tweeting pictures of himself announcing he's crashing the party.  He's literally trolling AT&T.
T-Mobile is not the good guy.  They are just a louder slightly less evil version of the other carriers, but at the end of the day, most people won't notice the difference.

I like what T-Mobile says it's doing, but go around and shop carrier stores (if you haven't) and price out a plan with a device and service from each of the carrier's and you'll learn something interesting... You will pay approximately the same (+- $10) from every carrier, your coverage will depend on your area, and you will be required to make payments to said carrier for approximately 2 years, or leave early by paying a lump sum.

You can call that lump sum an "ETF" or you can call it the" remaining balance on your device", but you are stuck with the carrier until you pay off your remaining balance (either the diminished value of a prorated ETF or the diminished value of a prorated device purchase).

There is very little difference for 95% of consumers between all the major carriers.  John Legere has changed nothing.

T-Mobile is now offering to pay the ETF with your old carrier.  Legere is calling it a "get our of jail free" card.  Do you know what he called that same tactic from AT&T last week?  In an email conversation with Re/code he said
“This is a desperate move by AT&T on the heels of what must have been a terrible Q4 and holiday for them.  Consumers won’t be fooled. … Nothing has changed, customers will still feel the same old pain that AT&T is famous for. Just wait until CES to hear what pain points we are eliminating next. The competition is going to be toast!” 
Clearly he's providing a very balanced and consistent opinion on this matter.

The Face of Change

So, yes, T-Mobile is better than AT&T (in many ways), but they are a far stretch from being innocent of the same crimes, which is almost worse for me.  Do you know what a true uncarrier would look like?  They would eliminate plans altogether.  They would sell only data either priced by speed or quantity (or a combination).  They would let you get a phone number from Skype, Google Voice, Ring Central, or any of the other places available online.  Or not at all.  Your call. Literally.  They would charge pay as you go and would only sell devices at full price and/or allow BYOD.

Google is slowly approaching this magical place, but they need their own network in order to make it a reality.  Until then, do your own price and network comparisons.  Don't let the CEO of the carrier tell you who's better, because the odds are that you'll get a biased answer.

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