T-Mobile CEO lays out another dirty industry secret (and how they plan to change it) #SmartphoneEquality


03/26/2014 T-Mobile Un-Leash Announcement

T-Mobile was one of the first carriers to come clean about carrier subsidization practices which resulted in the launch of their game-changing Simple Choice plans, and now they’re out to expose another dirty industry secret. CEO John Legere took to Twitter with a three minute video to call everyone out on the “well-qualified” shenanigans we often have to deal with.

To be specific, carriers advertise amazing deals on service and phones, but often times than not the cost of doing business with the carriers can be more expensive than they let on. They’ll put “for well-qualified buyers” in very fine print to note that the deals are subject to standard credit checks.

The most common example of this is when signing up for new service with a company — if you don’t have good credit, they’ll probably ask you for an expensive refundable deposit up-front to ensure you’ll make nice on making on-time payments. Another common example is when you try to sign up for one of the latest $0 down upgrade plans — some will make you pay a hefty down payment, and sometimes they will outright refuse to offer you that particular upgrade plan altogether.

To Legere’s credit, he admitted T-Mobile has done the same for most of their existence, but that he wanted to take this opportunity to begin changing that. His proposal? After 12 consecutive months of on-time payments, all customers are treated as if they have the best credit. For new customers the clock will start ticking the day you sign up for service. Those already with T-Mobile will qualify immediately for this “Smartphone Equality” if they already have those 12 consecutive months under their belt.

That’s not a very radical change — T-Mobile will clearly still factor credit into their decision if you haven’t yet met those conditions — but it’s a good-will showing that let’s the customer know they will eventually be treated like they should with the trust that they’ve earned from Magenta.

We should point out that T-Mobile is not the only carrier who makes goodwill decisions based on customer history. I’ve had plenty of perks with Verizon, Sprint and AT&T solely thanks to my history of on time payments with all three those carriers. I have never had to get a credit check outside of the day I first signed up for service.

The difference, though, is that those guys do it on a case-by-case basis, while T-Mobile’s promising it to anyone who can hold up their own end of the bargain for 12 months at a time. We’re still digging for the fine print on this new policy change so we’ll be updating with more details if they happen to roll in.

[via T-Mobile]

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. A show of “good will” isn’t nothing to sneeze at but like you said let’s take a look at the fine print and evaluate this again.

    I do have to point out how desperate this guy tends to appear sometimes. From his long hair to that strategically-placed Starbucks drink, he just seems desperate to appear youthful.

    These high-profile cooperate execs are looking pathetic in their attempt to stay relevant for as long as possible. Folks in silicon valley are looking over their shoulder at the VERY young talent sneaking up behind them and they’re terrified of losing their positions.

    Just look at the poster child for pathetic old execs desperately clinging to their evaporating youth: Joe Balfiore

    1. There are much bigger problems if you evaluate a person’s honesty by how long his hair is.

      1. No, you misunderstood me. I’m not trying to evaluate this guy’s honesty. I’m just expressing an opinion that he seems to be trying too hard to appear young and “hip”.

    2. I can’t stand wither of them. They both seem to look like characters from Pokemon.

  2. If only T-Mobile had service in the Midwest I’d switch in a heartbeat.

    1. Pretty great service from Green bay to Chicago. Coverage is spotty, but roaming agreements are good, and it’s crazy fast where there is coverage.

    2. It’s pretty plain and simple Mr. Legere has turned the carrier game upside down and right side up. If you aren’t rolling with T-Mobile then your simply not rolling

      1. Your fanboy is showing, Yarrell.

      2. “Mr. Legere has turned the carrier game upside down and right side up”
        Soooo, it’s back to the way it was? Because that’s exactly what you just said… Moron

      3. Pair a nexus 6 with a T-Mobile plan and you’re rolling. Using a note 4 with T-Mobile would be incredibly stupid.

      4. Rolling in 2G.

    3. Depends on where. Minneapolis/St. Paul has great coverage. Most of the Cleveland/Akron/Canton area is well covered. Chicago has good spots and bad. Ann Arbor seemed pretty well covered when I was there.

      The worst spots I’ve been are the highway between St. Paul and Madison, and then again between Gary, IN and Toledo.

    4. I agree. Unfortunately, most of Iowa is “Partner Coverage” which is actually a MVNO on T-Mobile’s network called “iWireless.” iWireless seems to follow T-Mobile’s lead, but the company itself has poor customer service which keeps me away.

    5. Anything north of Lansing in Michigan and forget about Tmo service. Honestly, they fix that and I’ll switch right back.

      1. Agreed that’s the main reason I can not switch to T-Mobile

        1. I visit the UP a lot. Once I’m in Clare or Cadillac it was roaming the whole way there and back.

  3. people that go with tmobile tend to have bad credit, i would bet. Also people that are willing to put up with lesser quality coverage for a cheaper bill. This move will help them. People willing to pay another 20/month to get Verizon and the better coverage that comes with it, I would bet on average have better credit and dont care about this.

    1. But the key here is, the exposure of the BS by the big guys and it eats away at people in time and then people start to vote different with their dollar.

      IF t-moible worked well in my area, and I can afford anything I want IF I want it bad enough and I have awesome credit, I would jump ship ASAP as the deals are just better and I fundamentally like to stick it to the man when possible. But their service in my area blows sadly.

    2. Any stats to back up these “bad credit” claims Craig or are you just trying to sound like an elitist?

      1. Just an observation of the people I know who have tmobile vs ppl i know who have verizon. You get what you pay for. I have tried other carriers but always come back to Verizon, I rely heavily on my phone to do my job and poor network coverage just isnt worth saving 20 bucks a month. Trust me, I wish I could save the money and go with tmobile, who doesnt want to save money. But there are tradeoff’s, ones that dont make sense for me. If I was a 16 yr old kid who didnt travel or require quality service to do my job and I was footing the bill, ide be all over tmobile. 16 year old kid = no credit = about same as bad credit.

        1. so are you saying T-mobile doesn’t have “quality service”. They DO. call quality but i will give it to you that IN MY AREA the data speed has been lacking. i called Big Magenta about it and they said they are in the process of upgrading the lte in my area. so it’s all for the greater good.

          you know that your recent comment just made you sound more of an elitist right? Sounds like you are secretly judging your friends by the cell phone providers they use.


          1. did you get a new FREE ($25 deposit) router from them recently. If not, go do that NOW


          2. i asked about it when i went in and asked about my shotty data speed recently and they told me they are working on the lte towers. the girl informed me that the router wouldn’t change much since it’s the network altogether. she made it sound like it wouldn’t help me out… but she also didn’t seem too knowledgeable about the router since she didn’t know what i was talking about when i brought it up. may go back today and talk to another clerk about it.

          3. Call tmo, they waived $25 and shipped it free via UPS 2 day. Good because my bad credit couldn’t’ afford much more. ;)

          4. But if it’s just a wireless router I don’t really need it. I thought it was a router/hotspot. The advertisement said “now you can take T-MobIle network wherever you go” which to me sounds like a hotspot. I’ll stop in tomorrow and ask… I’m hoping it’s a hotspot.

          5. It’s definitely not a hotspot, it’s a rebranded Asus AC1900 router. It was better than the router I had and worth the 5 minutes it took to get it, for me at least.

          6. Popped my bubble lol thanks to you and sueinphilly for helping me. I have 2 routers that are fairly new. Don’t wanna get greedy lol

          7. wait is it a wifi router using the T-mobile towers or is it just a router and you have to use your home isp to get a connection. if it works over the t-mobile then i am definitely picking it up and saying bye to mobile hotspot tethering.

          8. It is a wifi router. you have to use your own internet. It says “wifi cellspot router” on it

            “The ASUS TM-AC1900 dual-band router gives WiFi calling priority over other network traffic so your calls are not compromised. uses 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac

            totally worth $25!!!
            My old router was 4 years old.
            My cell service is fine. My phone doesn’t have Wifi calling (nexus 5), but it is an improvement over my old router anyway

          9. Sorry the truth is that my buddies with no great credit and not much money are tmobile, or worse, cricket customers. The ones with money, in general, have better credit, and are Verizon customers. That is not my view that is just facts. Sorry if you take offense to that.

          10. Elitist ^^^

            Nail in the coffin there.

          11. ^^penis wrinkle with shitty credit^^

          12. Good thing I have good credit… Nice to know someone is thinking bout my penis :-)

    3. I have excellent credit, and use TMO. I was able to get into AT&T as a new customer with no deposit, no money down on my phone, or anything else. Got a great car loan deal, etc.

      Now, I’m aware I might be an outlier, but your statement would probably be more accurate if you said “pay as you go” rather than T-Mobile.

    4. Sounds elitist to me. and remember just because your coverage is great with Verizon doesn’t mean it is with everyone. Verizon is a total dead zone in the shop I work in while T-mobile performs with full LTE bars.

    5. You’d be wrong to bet that. Just because someone picks TMO over the craptastic Sprint or the overly expensive AT&T/VZW .. doesn’t me we’re poor or have bad credit.

    6. Craig, please y mean, Please, do not provide my mortgage company, Insurance Company, American Express, BMW Financial, Chase, utility companies and so on, with this insightful credit evaluation, otherwise my rates may go from 0.9 to 5% in the worst case scenario to 29%………..

    7. I don’t know about that. I would guess that people with bad credit go for prepaid plans and that’s the only difference.

    8. You would lose all of those bets. I have great credit, have a mid five figure income, and T-Mobile has just as good of coverage (and better speed) where I live. I went withT-Mobile because I can save nearly $100 and have truly unlimited data. Now you know what happens when you assume.

      1. Agreed, I have excellent credit in a similar income bracket and my wife and I are both on unlimited T-mobile plans, I’m with them because they offer a great value, and my wife and I like not having to worry about how much data we use. Together we probably use 15 – 25GB a month which would be a lot more expensive on Verizon. Quite a bit more than $20 a month. You don’t have to be poor with bad credit to appreciate T-mobile. I have more important things to do with my money than overpay for cell phone service.

        Plus I was a Verizon customer for over 10 years and they treat their customers like crap, If I needed broader coverage than T-mobile I’d use AT&T they are marginally better and have a better phone selection thanks to being GSM.

  4. How about this one by Verizon…. to use a “smartphone” with them – as if there is really any other option these days – you suddenly have to have this thing called a “smartphone access” fee. A “smartphone access” fee? WTF! So, when you go to look at the plan options for pricing they do NOT also include those “smartphone access” fees, that is above and beyond the plan price they advertise and offer, but you cannot go without it. So, for example, a $75 plan is NOT $75 and you can never get it for $75 because before you get done, you have to add the say $40 “smartphone access” fee.

    I hope these guys, like Google Fiber is trying to do by taking on local internet providers & busting their BS myths, keep kicking the big guys in the nutz.. hard.

    1. Tmobile did the same thing years ago with the Android Data fee or SmartPhone Plan something… Sorry i cant remember what it was called (was about 12 phones ago). i had the Sidekick 2 and only paid like $60 and some change. then i got the htc pocket pc and it jumped up to like $90. the sidekick plan broken down was $30 for voice, $20 for email, data and text, then the rest were fees and insurance. the break down of the pocket pc bill was $30 for voice, $40 for data and email, $10-15 for unlmtd texts, then fees and insurance. i was so shocked when i got that bill and saw the difference. i called and asked if i can revert back to the old data plan with the new phone but they said no it was only for the sidekick. so my next phone was the sidekick lx lol

    2. Sprint used to do that, but they only charged $10

    3. AT&T did this as well. It was in the beginning of smartphones, when most still had regular flip/slide/interesting designed cellphones. There was a regular data plan for the regular phones, and then there was smartphone data plan for, well, smartphones. IDK about now, since i’m no longer with AT&T.

    4. Sorry to break it to you but every carrier did that when smart phones were not the normal phone people bought. At the time they used a lot more data than your old “dumb” phone so they felt justified.

  5. I wonder how much Starbucks paid for this advertisement… :)

  6. better that Tmo takes Starbuck’s $$ than mine
    I live in urban area. perfect coverage
    my FICO is over 800 and I could go anywhere and get the best deal
    I’ve been with Tmo since 2007 (remember my faves :)
    I get more service for less money than ever before (how many companies of any type can you say THAT about)
    the streaming music not going against my data plan is magnificent.
    I walk more than I drive. I’ve ALWAYS got music on.

  7. i love this guy, go tmobile.

  8. Hmm. When I trialed T-Mo last year, they asked me to put down $$ on the phone before they shipped it. Never had that issue with Sprint or Verizon, even though my credit was the same.

    1. T-Mobile wanted half down on a phone from me, while AT&T wanted $0. Go figure.

    2. I’ve been with T-Mobile for over a year now and my wife and I have bought 3 phones through them and never had to pay a down payment.

  9. Give me a break about these great “Simple Choice” plans. Instead of swallowing T-Mobile’s marketing whole hog, do the math.

    Over 2 years, T-Mobile service and monthly phone charges cost more than I pay for the equivalent phone on Sprint, even without unlimited data. And if you take advantage of their trade-in deal (which costs you $10 a month whether you use it or not), you’re coming out even worse than just paying full price for a new phone and selling your old one outright.

    Man, the blogosphere is populated by the most gullible people in the world. Or at least the laziest, who can’t be bothered to actually test company’s claims.

    1. I’ve been saying basically the same thing about T-Mobile and their uncarrier bs all along.

    2. Sorry it doesn’t work for you.

      I’m on the 2 lines for $100 with T-Mobile with TRULY unlimited LTE speed data no throttling w/ 5GB tethering.

      So $50/person. AND I get coverage all around the world for free.

      Where exactly can I get anything like this??? T-Mobile is amazing and all they’re so called ‘hype’ is extremely well deserved.

      1. I’m on that plan well, and even roaming in the US is included. It is fantastic because now I have data virtually everywhere.

        1. 2G data, virtually everywhere

          1. Coverage varies considerably depending on your location, I’m on the same plan and I almost never see 2G, unless I travel far away to somewhere really rural, I saw it last week a few times when I went to NC but I even had 4G LTE or 4G the vast majority of the time there.

    3. Every mathmatical comparison I’ve seen shows T-Mo coming out better than the other carriers. Obviously, if you compare completely different plans, I’m sure you can find a combination where Sprint looks better than T-Mo, but if you compare apples to apples, I doubt it.

      WRT the trade-in plans… they’re all bad compared to buying off-contract and reselling, but T-Mo’s is less bad. With Verizon and AT&T, you end up paying twice for the phone. T-Mo you only pay once, and it includes insurance (which would cost you $8/mo on it’s own) so it’s really a little less. I don’t know about Sprint’s trade-in plans, but I doubt it’s any better.

  10. Verizon customer loyalty is much better. They gave me $30 off my DirecTV bill and 10% off my vzw for being a loyal customer for the last 10 years. That being said T-Mobile has been nice as well so I’m keeping both.

    1. They are the devil sir. They track absolutely everything you do with your crappy CDMA/LTE phone. You didn’t buy a phone, they are charging you to give them your data.

      1. Still waiting for Phandroid to do an article on Verizon’s “supercookies”…
        Why is Phandroid giving them a pass on this egregious behavior?

      2. I’ve been torrenting for years with my unlimited Verizon hotspot. I haven’t received one letter of copyright infringement but if I take my laptop and connect to someone’s WiFi n bring up utorrent. They are sure enough to get a letter. Not that I’m defending tthem, just stating my own experience running the hotspot since the s3. ( bought g3 out a pocket for 650.

    2. I was a customer with them for 10 years and the only thing I ever got from them was a bigger bill and taken off my unlimited plan because I wanted 4g LTE.

      1. I was with them for a few years and all I ever got was:
        1) Bigger bills
        2) Delayed updates for phones
        3) Cancelled updates for phones
        4) Forced to either give up unlimited data (and paying the same price for limited data as I was for unlimited) or buy a phone unsubsidized while still paying the same prices for service as you would with a subsidized phone (I left rather than choosing between two evils).

        1. Yep that pretty well defines the reasons I left Verizon a few years ago, I prefer the either of the GSM services T-mobile or AT&T so much more. Especially for someone who likes to swap out phones

  11. I’ve been with Metro PCS for about 5 years with no problems, and now they run on the T Mo network, for which I pay $35 a month for unlimited everything and throttled data after 2GB. For my wife I pay $45 for unlimited everything and no throttle. Again on the T Mo network. So anyone using T Mobile is losing out, except if you must be able to roam overseas or can’t afford your mobile upfront.

    1. Postpaid is always pampered more than prepaid

    2. MetroPCS is undoubtedly a good deal, I was a subscriber for a year with 2 unlimited packages. When T-mobile started their 2 for $100 though I switched. I pay about $5 more with taxes included. but I get 5GB of tethering per line, some roaming data, and not being treated like a 2nd class citizen in congested areas, I admit they aren’t as heavy handed as AT&T, but in very congested areas that I infrequently visit T-mobile customers would be doing fine and my connection would be slow as molasses, so their is some prioritization. Also I can finance phones at $0 down and 0% Now a bad deal for $5 more
      I wouldn’t pay the $40 dollars more though for T-mobile proper service.

      Oh and no IMEI lock, I know it is trivial to call and get them to swap the IMEI connected to the service, but I still found it annoying as it’s not required for any reason on a GSM network, they are just still stuck in their CDMA ways.
      Hopefully they eliminate it one day.

  12. I was going to get a nexus 5 from T-Mobile. but the down payment was more than buying the phone outright from the play store I know I don’t have the best credit but come on 90% down is ridiculous. Back when they were subsidizing I invited about a note 2 (was not released yet) they only wanted a $125 deposit plus the subsidised payment to walk out and my credit was way worse back then.

    1. i dont think this is true for the Nexus6. so consider the Nexus6 for sure.

      1. I’ll give it a shot again Oh do I want a nexus 6 just need a carrier that has unlimited data so I use metro but with them it’s full price for a phone. For payments that leaves sprint and T-Mobile. I test drove sprints network with a boost mobile device and still horible leaves me with T-Mobile as an only option if I want a flagship device just hope they are more flexible on the n6

        1. I believe they will be, definitely consider it.

    2. Yeah that was a weird thing that happened with both the Nexus 4 and 5. It was because when you bought the Nexus off Google Play they were technically subsidizing the device on google’s end and just not telling you, which brought it down to what you’d pay if you were signing a contract with a carrier. They were able to do it because their assumption is that you’ll be using all their services and thus feeding the monster.

      When you buy it from T-Mobile you end up paying the real price of the phone before Google Subsidized.

      At least this is what I read over the years from tech blogs … /shrug

  13. This doesn’t affect me, but I still like what t-mobile is doing.

  14. I’ve been on tmobile for like 12 years and they recently gave me unlimited talk, text, lte data and I also noticed 5gb of Hotspot aww yissss. Tmobile is the best and my bill is the same $70

  15. dear phandroid,

    please stop furthering this carrier subsidization myth. it’s either you’re carrying water for the carriers of you guys are bad at math!

    before T-Mobile “revolutionized” subsidization:

    $200 for a $500 phone + $50 monthly for two years…the carrier would make a total of $1400 before taxes and that’s where they’d recoup their subsidized $300

    after T-Mobile “revolutionized” subsidization:

    $28.33 a month for 24 months for $500 phone AND $50 monthly for a 2-year service plan…the carrier makes a total of $1700 before taxes

    please explain how extracting the subsidy of the phone from the bill without SUBTRACTING the subsidy of the phone from the bill is better for customers?

    1. you’ve got your prices wrong…. Here is a more realistic example.

      BEFORE T-Mobile “revolutionized” subsidization:
      $200 for a $600 phone + $80 per month plan (1 line , unlimited everything) for 24 months

      AFTER T-Mobile “revolutionized” subsidization:
      Bring your own phone (Free if you already own it) AND $60 per month for unlimited everything.


      $25 a month for 24 months AND $60 per month for unlimited everything.

      Notice that the most important thing in my comparison is that before the revolution you would pay $80 for the SAME EXACT PLAN, regardless whether or not you bring your own phone, or get a new phone, or keep the same phone as last year. versus after the revolution, you pay CHEAPER for the SAME EXACT PLAN…..

      cheaper is better… especially when you get the same exact service.

  16. Meh. Nobody cares. Publicity stunt appealing to crap consumers.

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