T-Mobile, Even Less Uncarrier Than Before

6/19/2014 Stephen Colbert 0 Comments


I'm not going to lie to you and say that John Legere has not done a lot to improve T-Mobile.  That would be untrue.  He's overseen a huge turnaround for the company, not just in terms of network quality, but in net subscriber additions.  I will, however, say that he hasn't done anything to change the industry.

Legere is definitely brilliant at marketing, but hasn't introduced anything fundamentally different than the competition.  The first uncarrier wave was mostly the introduction of a different vocabulary in his branding of age old wireless trends, then--more recently--the outright lying about competitors in order to make the contrast appear bigger than it is.

I'm not saying T-Mobile is as bad as AT&T, I'm just saying (as I've said before) "T-Mobile is not the good guy. [It is] just a louder slightly less evil version of the other carriers."

T-Mobile continued this trend with its "Uncarrier 5" event last night, which also included Uncarrier 6."  Neither of which, by the way, are "uncarrier," per usual.  Merely new branding for policies similar to what the rest of the industry has been doing for years.

Uncarrier 5 is an expansion on T-Mobile's buyers remorse policy, but offers nothing inherently new.  This new program will allow potential customers to test the network for a week using an iPhone 5s at no cost.  The explanation for this is that it's simple, because the normal 14 day remorse policy is a hassle if you port your number and have to do equipment swaps.

It's important to look at how the remorse policy works currently, though.  Right now, you can walk into a T-Mobile store, get a phone for zero down, test the network for less than 14 days, and leave with no consequences.  If you decide to stay, you can port your number in and continue using the service.

The 7 day uncarrier program requires you to return the iPhone and set up a new account, making it--in effect--more complicated than the existing policy.  By the way, there's no specification if this is replacing the 14 day return policy or not, but keep an eye on that, because this might be T-Mobiles "uncarrier" way of halving its current policy for buyer's remorse.

Also keep in mind, T-Mobile's current 14 day buyers remorse policy is basically identical across all major carriers.  So not only is this more inconvenient (more transactions and less device options) than its own existing 14 day policy, but therefore also more inconvenient than the buyers remorse policy for the rest of the industry.

Then there's Uncarrier 6, which basically flies in the face of net neutrality.  T-Mobile will allow its customers to listen to unlimited streaming music with no throttling, even after the data cap has been passed.  There also isn't clear designation if music streaming prior to the data cap will eat up the data pool or not.

This is exactly the kind of data discrimination being fought by Google and Netflix.  How are bits of data that comprise streaming music any different than bits of data that comprise a cat GIF or an email when they travel over a data pipe?  This type of discrimination also opens the door for T-Mobile to not play nice and leverage this influence unequally against some companies, something that I wouldn't put past this guy.

He rails against the bigger carriers for their anti consumer policies, but then does the same things.  Not only that, but he's promoting data discrimination, which comes right out of AT&T and Verizon's playbook.  I know a lot of people love him.  He makes a great front man.  I don't dislike his style, it just doesn't sit well when it's dishonesty being peddled as down to earth honesty.

I'm all about disruption, but capitalizing on consumer confusion  and using misleading language to act like you're different, when you are only perpetuating the problem sounds just like all the carrier's Legere's always cussing out.

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