80,000 “Break-up” letters later, T-Mobile widens ETF payment program to include U.S. Cellular and others

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It’s been just over a week since T-Mobile announced its market-changing 4th phase of Uncarrier. The deal is the first of its kind to be introduced as a way to help customers (particularly families) get away from their contracts with other carriers by paying their early termination fees, and giving them money towards their old phones. Since then, more than 80,000 customers have posted “Break-up Letters” to social media by people who have made use of the program to leave their old carriers.

Initially, the deal only included customers from AT&T, Verizon and Sprint, but from today it’s been expanded to U.S. Cellular and other smaller, regional carriers who require an early termination fee to pay off lengthy contracts. T-Mobile is also going to increase the number of handsets that customers can trade in, and will accept damaged phones. In almost every case, a damaged phone will fetch less trade-in value than full operational ones, but it does help customers with broken phones to make use of the ETF-payment deal.

“This is not just a promotion,” T-Mobile marketing chief Mike Sievert told Re/code on Thursday. “What we are trying to do is bring an end to unfair one-way onerous contracts in this country.”

Although more than 80,000 breakup letters have been posted on social, but Sievert refused to confirm exactly how many customers had signed up to T-Mobile because of the offer. The number of letters would seemingly suggest that a lot of people have switched. We might have to wait a few more weeks yet to find out. Sievert did say, however, that the number of people joining T-Mobile has increased, suggesting the company is having a great start to 2014.

Although this entertaining “Breakup” letters aren’t required to cancel old plans, it does make an event of the whole switching thing. It makes it fun, engaging and gives T-Mobile continued exposure on social media networks.

Via: Re/code

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  • Roger Sales

    They’re creating their own advertising without having to spend money to do so….It’s a genius move, really. They are on the next level when it comes to marketing.

    • taron19119

      I will agree the way t mobile and especially John has been using social media has been the main reason this is all happening I see more Sprint AT&T and Verizon commercials and less T Mobile commercials saving more money for tmobile

      • Roger Sales

        Not just less t-mobile commercials, but they only feed information the customers actually need, not stick a bunch of kids in a classroom and lecture them.

        • donnybee

          It’s a far cry from old T-Mobile commercials.. Ones that left you muting the tv or changing the channel because you didn’t want to see a big ass shoe in the background. They were the worst.

        • samsavoy

          a big-ass shoe or a big ass-shoe :D

      • Jay Holm

        I’ve been seeing Tmo advertisements on YouTube before a video plays.

        • Melissa Cardenas

          Me it’s the opposite Lol everytime I’m about to a YouTube vid I get the same at&t advertisement the one that says faster is better atts 4G lte is now the most reliable getting pretty annoying I wanna see a different one a tmobile advertisement would be nice.

        • donnybee

          Not too long ago, you switched to AT&T because you hated T-Mobile lol I guess the ads are the other way around?

          I love T-Mobile and love their new marketing strategies. I hated their old commercials, and personally didn’t care too much for Carly. Other than to look at haha

  • Mike Dye

    Couldn’t you just sell your old phones on ebay and pay your ETF with money to spare. I mean if you have to trade in your old phone anyway it would be the same or better.

    • taron19119

      the average customer does not one to or get into that process and is just happy trading in their phone

    • Abe_The_Babe

      Depends on how much your ETF is. You might be able to sell your own phone for more than what T-Mobile will pay out, it’s just a lot less hassle to go through them.

      • Roger Sales

        Not just that – part of the program IS trading in your device. you’re getting the money for the ETF plus money for your phone which if you do the math is 95% of the time worth more than your device.

        • Mike Dye

          I didn’t realize you were getting anything for the trade in, just the ETF paid. Then start a EIP with tmobile for new devices.

        • Roger Sales

          It’s a two part deal, hence why they say “up to 650$ for 1 line”. you get up to 350 to cover your termination fee in full(whatever the amount is), and up to 300$ for the phone itself to go towards your new device. It’s a friggin’ steal AND the easiest way to get out of a bad situation with another carrier.

        • Abe_The_Babe

          Oh I assumed he knew they pay an amount for the phone as well. But I also assume you can make more by selling it yourself if you have a low ETF.

        • Roger Sales

          The thing about ETF’s is, they’re never that low even when they should be. I think they knock off like 10$ a month, and keep in mind your phone depreciates in value every month too, so they offset eachother. Assuming you have 4 months left on your contract, your ETF is probably about 150$(for a 2 year service agreement). You’re selling T-Mobile a device that is about 2 years old(which new would at best be worth 400$, but if used and even in great condition can’t be worth more than 200$ because of the age).

          Assuming this device is like an iphone 4S or something, you’ll get what, 100, maybe 150 from T-Mobile? + 150 for the ETF. which comes out to 250-300$ish. I think that’s a fair estimate. Fair market value for a used iphone 4S that is unlocked is at best in the ball park of 200-250$, but you still have to pay the ETF on your phone so T-Mobile’s offer is still a better deal to you, and you don’t have to do the work yourself of putting in on Amazon or Craigslist or whatever.

          As long as T-Mobile’s service works well for your needs, I don’t see a scenario for the consumer where this isn’t a complete win.

        • Jay Holm

          Smartphones compared to tablets & laptops are way, way overpriced to begin with!!!

        • superg05

          agreed

        • yankeesusa

          The whole point of the trade it is so that it can help off set the loss of the money they will spending on paying off the ETF. Overall for most people the etf is more than what their phone would get them.

    • Chris Hilbert

      You can also sell your device on eBay and trade in a $20 prepaid phone.

  • Jay Holm

    Hopefully all these new customers will help Tmo raise enough capital/profit to snag that 600mhz!!!!!

    • http://twitter.com/SParKlngCyaNide SparklingCyanide

      Seems to be working so far. : )

  • Jay J. Blanco

    T-Mobile trying to steal everyones customers ! lol

  • yomama12

    switch to sprint! new 5g lte

    • TechHog

      I hope Sprint didn’t pay you much

      • donnybee

        I’m pretty sure it was sarcasm.. Basically saying Sprint has nothing up it’s sleeves now. They could only try a stupid marketing move since they can’t seem to actually improve physically.

        • yankeesusa

          Its funny about sprint losing all these customers to T-Mobile and the rumors of Sprint getting the funds together to put a bid for T-Mobile

        • superg05

          its more likely customers+ returning after that at&t fiasco

  • steveb944

    This is great to include broken phones! My friend has a broken iPhone she can give up and she can just sell her functioning Sprint iPhone on the side. Win win!

    • Chewie

      T-Mobile is now accepting broken phones for trade in

  • ⓜ@®!ⓞ G@®CI@ ™

    Question. What can current customers under contract do ? Do they still charge migration fees? Or can they also use this ETF program ? For current customers

    • Mauv

      Current customers can trade in their phone, move to simple choice and upgrade to a new device. This will be without a migration fee and will remove the contract on the line that upgraded (if that line has a contract).

      • ⓜ@®!ⓞ G@®CI@ ™

        Thanks :)

  • Chad Dalton

    I was thrilled to write my break up letter to those greedy vultures over at Verizon. Glad that’s over and done with.

    • Jay Holm

      Congratulations! Enjoying HSPA+/LTE now? I left Verizon. for Tmo last April for the S4.

  • sidekicker89

    Hey has anyone been getting the force migration to Simple Choice plans from T-Mobile? I thought they were trying to get rid of the legacy plans. I’m still waiting for mine.

    • Deadeye37

      I never got a letter either. I would like to get forced to the new plan if it meant a cheaper version of that plan. Although the family plan that we have is a pretty good price, my wife is starting to want to dump her ancient sony ericcson flip phone for a good android phone.

    • Paul

      I did get a letter, late 2012-2013, about my option to take on the new plans. I changed to $70 unlimited. You should be able to go in, online, and change it. My contract neds in MArch or May so I’m just letting it go to the end.

      You should be able to change it though.

    • yankeesusa

      Some have not gotten letter yet. I would just call customer service and see what they offer you. Some are getting great deals.

  • Cocorruca

    what about loyal customers that are still under contract with t-mobile, they dont get any offers?

    • TS50

      yes, you get the same offer. trade in your phone buy a new one and you etf/contract is forgiven. I am a t- mo employee and have done three of these already.

      • Peter Smith

        How about Jump? My Jump Upgrade date is in February and I am still under contract but already on the new plan. How do the two programs work together?

        • TS50

          I could be wrong but I believe jump only applies to the date you added that feature not if you got the feature and a phone. Your jump upgrade date should be tied to the date you added jump. So if you got jump 4 months ago and a new phone today (And yes that could have happened in the open enrollment period) you could jump in 2 months. But don’t quite me on that.

        • Jay Holm

          Open enrollment period? I was told I can’t join JUMP because I got my S4 (4/29/13), before Jump started, and I would have to pay off my remaining balance, which is $320, in order to be able to enroll in JUMP, so what exactly is this open enrollment you speak of? Can I join Jump sooner? I want to get the *S5*!!!

        • Ian Harrington

          Yes you can join sooner you just have to talk to the right rep

        • Jay Holm

          I actually joined the JUMP program this morning at a local retail store. So how it works is 6mo’s later, I trade in my S4, and >hopefully< the *S5* is on special $0 down, and I walk out of the store paying nothing?

        • superg05

          taxes

        • Stone Cold

          Or try ExecutiveResponse@Tmobile dot com

        • Peter Smith

          Talked with Customer Care and they assured me that when I do the Jump Upgrade, it will cancel my contract. I made sure to have the rep note it because he found it on some online document. I stopped at the store and a rep told me they were wrong. I told him to read my notes and he confirmed the new info was correct. Now my question is, can we get a copy of that as proof?

        • Don Kim

          JUMP upgrade is trading in your old phone and get a new one with EIP.
          Which is the exact same process to eliminate your remaining contract with T-Mobile.
          I’m very sure they’ll eliminate your contract when you do JUMP upgrade, but make sure when you’re doing the upgrade.

      • Jay J. Blanco

        Thats great !!

      • kalel33

        I did just that and bought the cheapest phone they had and returned it 4 days later, still NIB. It got me out of my contract and then I disconnected my account. Saved me the $200 ETF.

        • shack180

          Smart.

        • Matt Barrus

          Did this actually work? I’m curious because I’m looking at trying to do the same thing.

        • kalel33

          It worked

  • KingCobra

    Just ported my iPad Mini over to T-Mobile from Verizon. 2 more iPhone lines to go and all 6 of my lines will be on T-Mobile and I’ll be done giving Verizon any of my money. Funny thing is that as of right now I have 3 iPhone lines and the iPad Mini on T-Mobile and it’s cheaper than the 2 lines sharing 2GB of data that I still have on Verizon (even after a 20% corporate discount).

    • donnybee

      I love T-Mobile!

  • yankeesusa

    This is great news. I know several people that wanted to switch but had damaged phones. This is definitely going to get a lot more customers.

  • Former T-Mobile Employee

    I just want to point out that T-Mobile wasn’t the first carrier to do the “Contract Buyout” thing…Cincinnati Bell was…regional carrier, but they introduced this a long, long time ago…however they have since dropped it.

    • IRIE4IPIEIR

      And who cares? Does it matter? who’s doing it now, T-Mobile beeyatch

    • Jay Holm

      One difference is Tmo’s Chief Marketing Officer said
      they aren’t stopping this, their out to end contracts in the U.S.
      There’s the difference.

  • Brandon

    I’m curious how quickly some people are going to be getting their Prepaid MasterCards? I know that they say up to 8 weeks but surely some people are tracking theirs that moved that could shed some light? I’m trying to convince the other 4 people on my Family Plan w/ Sprint to leave but some of them don’t want to because they don’t want to have to buy another phone right now…

    • Jay Holm

      “Buy”? T-Mobile has phones for $0 down, some good ones.

      • Ordeith

        A phone isn’t one of those things you should go into debt for.

      • Brandon

        Well they may be $0 down but you still have to pay the sales tax for the phone upfront and it’s the monthly payment they know (and understand) they’d have to make…in some cases it’d be for the same phones they’re currently using just made for T-Mobile.

        For instance one of my users has a Gold iPhone 5S, she really likes it and if we went to T-Mobile she’d have to get another one and she’s not sure if she sees the value (at least right now). Since we currently have Sprint I’ve been told that it won’t be possible to get the phone unlocked to work with T-Mobile’s network…so it’s still something we’re discussing.

        • yankeesusa

          That is a dilemma. But most people don’t mind financing a phone. Especially when the only way to get a discount on a phone is to sign a 2 year contract. What I did was wait for my etf to go below $120. I then got T-Mobile to credit my line $200 to compensate for my etf. Then I bought a T-Mobile phone on swappa and sold mine. Of course this is before their big etf program. One thing you can do is put a cheapo phone on your account and then do the trade. Then sell your iphone on swappa. Otherwise you have no choice but to trade in your newer iphone.

  • shack180

    So what happens if I want to leave t-mobile can I trade backin my gs3 and get out my contract 5months earlier.

  • shack180

    Everytime t-mobile try to get my wife and I to change our old plan that has ,myfaves 700mins ,5gb 4g tethering they could never match the price smh .

    • Jay Holm

      You don’t need myfaves and 700 minutes when you can get unlimited talk.

      • shack180

        I pay $147 with my wife discount. Originally $161 700mins, myfaves basically unlimited, 5gb 4g and tethering no charge for my wife and 5gb for me . No plan could match it mainly our internet .

        • AngusMightHaveABeef

          2 lines unlimited everything with 2.5GB hotspots would be $120. If you have a corporate discount it would probably be about $102/month(that depends on your discount).

        • shack180

          We have 5gb each of 4g spend . I wouldn’t want to downgrade my 4g 5gb cap to 2gb .

        • tmohelp

          For $120 you would gave truly unlim data on ur phone and an additional 2.5gb per line for tethering

  • FluX

    I was wondering, are Value Plans going to be switched to Simple Choice? I want data (I already have unlimited messaging and 1000 minutes) for the same price. The closest Simple Choice plan is $100 but I pay $90 for 4 lines and would not like to pay any more for data (500MB high speed is okay). Would T-Mobile be able to offer me a discount on the plan? I am a “5″ year loyal customer because I had to get a new number to get the Shadow 2 (crap) for free. But I have been with T-Mobile (1 year before Voicestream changed its name, whenever that was) for like 10 years.

    • tmohelp

      If you call in they will work with u to get new plan ask for loyalty department

    • Stone Cold

      email ExecutiveResponse@ Tmobile dotcom

  • Ordeith

    After refusing to support 3 of my phones for more than a few months over the years I think it is getting about time for me to send T-Mobile a break-up letter of my own.

  • Vstream

    Sad part is, all loyal T-mobile customers just get to keep paying their monthly bill. No incentive to stay – or maybe we should play the jump game the same way they play the customers/consumers. Or better yet go Pre-Paid -> Boost / Virgin and countless other Pre-paids are looking better every day…

    • Arkides

      What do you mean? All the stuff new customers get, so do you. if you’re with t-mobile, what ETFs do you have to ‘pay’ to get to t-mobile?

  • http://911breakupsurvival.com breakupsurvival

    old phones. Since then, more than 80,000 customers have posted “Break-up Letters” to social media by people w