Clearing up the confusion surrounding iPad Air “zero down” and “200MB free” offers


When the iPad Air pricing was announced last week, on the Apple store website it became clear that taking a cellular model iPad was going to pose a fantastic benefit for customers taking a tablet with a SIM from our favorite magenta carrier. Buying a cellular iPad with a Tmo SIM would give consumers a free 200MB slice of data each month to use with their brand new tablet. But there’s been some confusion.

Firstly, some customers walking in to stores found that they’d been signed up to a T-Mobile data plan, one that wasn’t free. It appeared that the T-Mobile retail systems weren’t aware of how to add on this promotion. John Legere took to Twitter to ensure that the issue would be addressed. It is a genuine offer. But that’s not where the confusion ends. Due to a slightly misleading press release from Tmo, many assumed that they could walk in to a T-Mobile store, take an iPad without any down payment, and also still get the free 200MB data allowance. (Screenshot below).

Screen Shot 2013-11-04 at 13.47.15Now, from my time working in retail, I know that “Starting at” basically means “more than”. Or, there are catches. What T-Mobile didn’t make entirely clear was that people taking the $0 down offer would have to sign up to a $20 plan, offering 500MB data at its 4G LTE speed. You still get the 200MB free, on top, as far as we’re aware, but you do need to sign up to the $20 plan.

This is of course if you want to spend nothing initially. If you pay for the iPad in full, up front, you get 200MB of data for free each month without needing to sign up to any monthly plan. It’s free, if you pay for the device in full. The zero-down offer means you can choose to pay for your iPad in installments, as well as paying for a monthly data plan. As attractive as it would be to walk in and walk out without paying a cent, or signing up to a monthly data plan, that’s not the case in this matter.

However, if you’re an existing customer with a phone plan, you can get the free 200MB with a new tablet without signing up to any other plans. Only new customers have to sign up to a new data plan for the zero-down/monthly installments offer.

Marketing Executive, Andrew Sherrard confirmed this policy to CNET yesterday, and admitted the rollout of offering iPads hasn’t exactly been a smooth ride:

“He noted that not every person qualifies for the equipment installer plan, and that even individuals wanting a smartphone under such a plan have to pass a credit check. He said the company is working to make matters clearer in its communication on its Web site and with its sales staff.

“As we roll into this new market, things have been a little bumpy,” Sherrard conceded. “It’s not as smooth as we would want it to have been.””

Have any of you been or had angry customers expecting a better deal than what you got? Should Tmo have made the offers clearer?

Read the full press release from T-Mobile here.

Source: CNET

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  • j

    Should have been much clearer, but they are banking on the fact that once you are in the store you are going to want to leave with a shiny new ipad, since that’s what you came for.

  • Me

    Umm … someone needs to do a grammar check on the headline. I’m not expecting perfection, but seriously?

    • Cam Bunton

      Nope. There are two separate offers being discussed. “Offers” is pluralized on purpose. Unless I’m missing something else?

      • 21stNow

        Cam, the headline is correct, but it can be a bit awkward to read. If someone reads the headline too fast and mentally omits the first two words, it seems like the correct word would be “offer”. In the current state, there is nothing wrong with it.

        • Chris

          or just omit the word “offers” – it works well with that.
          But then again, we have new Tmonews writers, I say give them a break lol

      • Me

        The syntax – a fundamental part of grammar – is lacking. Beyond what Chris said below, with which I concur, you might have written it as, “Clearing up the confusion surrounding the Ipad Air ‘Zero Down’ and ‘200mb free’ offers”. As the word order stands, the word “offers” can easily be misread as being a verb instead of a noun, which is, by definition, bad syntax

        • Cam Bunton

          Very good point. I see it now.

        • Me

          Eh, I was mostly just giving you crap. ;-)

  • Tm1082

    I just signed up yesterday and got the iPad mini with 200mb free data and on the installment plan without adding the extra 500mb. I was told I will see a $10 charge on my bill for the 200mb but I will also get a $10 bill credit at the end on the month.

    • tmorep

      which means you got signed up on a 500 mb plan so the rep could get an activation, and he’s going to credit you back the cost. reps don’t get an act on 200mb only purchases, and quite frankly don’t want to sell them to you.

      • Ashley

        He got the free plan after voice line bundle discount. It was just ringing out wrong at first and why he’s getting a credit to correct it. He didn’t get the 500mb. The reps don’t get paid on a free plan but do get paid on the tablet sale. I don’t see how people are complaining when this kills all other carrier deals and of course was going to be an installment plan just like the others where you must do a credit check. That would be stupid for T-Mobile not to do that in order to protect their interests from the vast amounts of scammers who already fraudulently purchase these items with no intent to ever pay for them. The used phone market is full of blocked devices because of them.

      • Tmo1082

        Thats why I wont go to a corporate store. I always go to the authorized dealer in my community. They always look up my usage and break down what would be best for me without rushing me out the door. The rep that sold me my iPad explaned that because I have the unlimted plan on my phone I could use the tethering up to 2.5Gb for my iPad. I was never pressured to get anymore than the 200mb of free data and the rep was more than happy to sell to me.

        • Chris

          It’s the same in the corp store – if you go to a correct one with nice people :) I had a bad experience in one store and never came back to that store. I drive a couple more miles out but I get a better experience with the reps.

        • Stone Cold

          I go across town myself even though there is a store 10 minutes away from me I know the reps and they know me and ,my families usage and needs and don’t always tow the corporate line.

      • randomnerd_number38

        Actually, the way it’s worded, it sounds to me like he was correctly signed up for the on-demand data, which is $10 per month before the $10 discount.

  • thepanttherlady

    Of course they could have been clearer. T-Mobile is very good at being vague and not being completely open/upfront and I honestly think they do this purposely.

    • Adrayven

      True… They could have been clearer and it still would have been considered a great deal for many.. It’s better to set expectations correctly than to let them down.

    • 21stNow

      I thought that I was the only one that thought this. This marketing did catch people’s attention. There is nothing worse than a customer feeling like he/she has been lied to. It would be better if the potential customer never considered T-Mobile at all than to have the potential customer feel like T-Mobile is shady.

      • philyew

        I agree, but is it driven by bad intent, or is simply the case that they are looking for snappy advertising hooks?

        “Starting at $0 down” is a lot snappier in an ad than explaining the real intricacies.

        Not that long ago it was clearly driven by bad intent, now perhaps it’s more likely they are looking for big hit impact and think they can explain the detail later.

        • 21stNow

          I don’t know. It seems like with T-Mobile’s new catch word being “Simple”, they are still the most confusing of the carriers when they advertise things.

          I wasn’t that interested in this tablet offer, but one of my friends called me excited about it. I didn’t know that she would have had to sign up for a paid plan in order to get the 200MB for free, as she is not a T-Mobile customer. She ended up getting a Wi-Fi only iPad Air, so this won’t matter to her now.

        • philyew

          I figure that’s because things can’t be as “simple” as their snappy advertising implies. Remember they are going from 350 plan options to 50. To them it must be very simple now, but you still can’t describe all the nuances in the advertising copy.

    • samsavoy

      That means they’re just good at marketing.

  • steveb944

    That’s really bad miscommunication. I’ve been telling people to go buy their iPads in T-Mobile because of this very reason, and now I’m the liar.

    • Dakota

      The more they change, the more they stay the same

  • Dakota

    So now an Apple fanatic and iPhone blogger from the UK becomes one of the new writers for the US based T-Mobile blog.. Guess we’ll have to startturning to 9to5 to see wwhat David’s insider contacts tell us about Magenta scoops

    • randomnerd_number38

      Yeah, good luck with that, too. I’m gonna be reading 9to5google, but not for T-Mobile news. Pretty sure one of the reasons David took that job was because it’s not about T-Mobile. He even said in his goodbye post that he would not be blogging or reporting on T-Mobile for awhile. I don’t like it either, but it looks like this is what we’re stuck with for T-Mobile news.

    • Cam Bunton

      I’ve written for this site on a few occasions in the past too. While David was here.

    • LAGURL

      u think most of us CARE if u go read 9to5 UM guess again no we dont so please do us all a favor and gtfo out tmonews if u dont like it. Me im staying here i like this new guy from the UK.

  • randomnerd_number38

    There is some (minor) incorrect info in this article. Customers with existing postpaid phone plans CAN get the 200 mb free if they sign up for an on-demand data line at 10 dollars per month, then get the 10 dollar discount for having an existing line. Net is 0 dollars per month for the service, but they still pay taxes and regulatory fees for the additional line.

    For prepaid plans, regardless of if they already have a line or not, they would have to pay upfront for the tablet, but they’d get the 200 mb free every month on their new prepaid line. No obligation to put any money on the prepaid line once its open, so this is the best bet for people who want the 200mb per month absolutely free.

    For new customers hoping for a postpaid plan(which is required if you want to finance the tablet for $0/down), you have to sign up for phone service as well to get the free 200 mb. If you want just a data line, it starts at 20 dollars per month for 500mb of full speed data. Without an additional phone line with T-Mobile, you can’t choose the on-demand plan.

    What makes the 200mb free on postpaid is if you have an existing line with Tmobile you get a 10 dollar discount on your tablet plan, so the $10 on-demand plan(which is only available to existing voice customers) is reduced to $0 and they throw in 200mb of starter data.

    • Cam Bunton

      That’s interesting. I was just following up some reaction from CEO John Legere on Twitter. His words: “@gsmumbo there is no $10 plan, never was. You can buy direct and get free data.”

      • randomnerd_number38

        Oh ho, looks like my info was a little off too, my mistake. There IS a 10 dollar plan, but not for new postpaid customers. In effect, this means that getting only a tablet with no phone service on a T-Mobile postpaid plan means a minimum plan of 20 bucks per month. And the 10 dollar plan that’s only available to existing voice customers isn’t really 10 dollars because its automatically discounted due to the “existing voice customer” discount. I suppose that technically makes Legere’s tweet correct, but what a weird way of setting it up.

        At any rate, edited my comment to correct the info. The only incorrect thing in the article then is semantic- postpaid customers with existing lines do get 200mb free, but they are also signing up for an additional line of service, albeit a 0 dollar plan.

        • Cam Bunton

          Okay. Cool. Thanks for the input. And yeah, T-Mobile could have made this much simpler than it did.

        • 21stNow

          I am still confused about how this works. I probably won’t try to figure it out, as the tablet that I want isn’t out in the US yet. Even if it were, only certain tablets are eligible for this promotion.

  • GOMA

    so ITS NOT FREE……

    • randomnerd_number38

      It is 100% free on prepaid lines. You just have to buy the tablet upfront.

      • doityourself

        i ordered a new sim kit from and popped it in my old galaxy tab 7.0 and launched the browser. it took me to and activated my free 200mb mobile internet plan. that’s it!

  • GOMA

    STOP LEADING customers on

  • Steve

    Ok, I have an unlimited TMO data plan. I have the Nexus seven for wifi only right now- Will they throw a SIM in it and allow me 200mb a month free?

    • randomnerd_number38

      If you have a wifi-only Nexus 7, it doesn’t have a SIM slot. So no. But if it is the Nexus 7 with the cellular capabilities, then yes.

  • auser72

    Being a existing Tmobile, having the ability to finance a ipad with no finance charges or no additional monthly charges is a win- win. New customers financing a new ipad at no charge without contract obligations is a win – win situation.

  • randomnerd_number38

    This type of article is one of the things tmonews is known for. I still miss David and feel unsure about the future of this site, but this is a step in the right direction. Kudos.

    EDIT: Haha! Why the downvote? Is that legitimate disagreement, or just a knee jerk reaction to anything slightly positive said about a Davidless tmonews?

  • We are existing customers and the $10 plan does not even work. It keeps telling to me sign up for data. Even though we already have unlimited voice. Tech supports sucks, they just told us to take it back or call apple. They said the device is defected lol, it’s clearly not the device. On one of our iPads we changed it to the $30 plan, and it started working right away. We left the other on the $10 plan, it says we don’t have data.

    • randomnerd_number38

      I think that might be the known issue they are trying to correct. Sounds like the tech support rep you got messed up though. I’d call back if I were you.

      A couple other guesses at what might be going wrong: I seem to recall something about having to complete registration through the tablet(setup a new account through their new on-device account management system with your email address and stuff) and go through some kind of acceptance process to get the 200mb. Check into that? Also, if your account is anything besides a completely normal consumer account you don’t get the 200MB. That means no employee, corporate, or other special account types. Hope these guesses help :)

  • weezy34

    While on the subject of clarifying Tmobile USA shady advertising. What happens after you pass your alloted FREE data for life within the month? Capped or throttled?

    • randomnerd_number38

      If you’ve got JUST the 200mb, capped.

    • A. U.

      The 200mb is capped.

      • A. U.

        If it is stand alone for $0 (with a voice line). If it is a 500mb plan $10 or 2.5 Gb for $20 (prices are with a voice line as well) +200mb on top, it is throttled, not capped.

  • lilcapricorn

    So anyone who thought To would give then free financing on an iPad AND free data for life without having to have any other two services is an idiot…. say that out loud to yourself where is the incentive for tmo to do that….they give u free fnancing ,free data, and u pay them nothing….give me a break that’s like going to buy a car with free financing and then the dealership telling u that u could also have free mechanic services for life

    • lilcapricorn

      Not two just any of their service

  • Druff

    Could that free 200MB for life sim card be used in other devices?

    • doityourself

      calls and sms are blocked. only data will work. but you might need a tablet imei to activate it

  • mrTeam

    Still confused about this. If I _don’t_ have a T-Mobile contract at all, will T-Mobile give me free 200MB of data for an iPad (with cellular radios) that I already own or have bought from another retailer? Or does the tablet have to be bought from T-mobile?

  • steve

    I purchased the iPad Air (Tmobile) from the Apple store on Friday and could not activate it against my existing account. I called customer care and they told me that since I already have 5 lines, I would have to open up another account ($50 setup, $10/mo) just for my iPad. Already irritated, I was ready to ready my iPad back to the store. I tweeted @TmobileHelp and I was shocked that they responded back with the resolution. They told me to contact T-mobile Pre-paid. I called them and just gave them the IMEI on the back of the iPad box and they created a line for me for the 200mb starter data. I didn’t have to give any credit card or personal information other than my date of birth to have the account created. Long story short.. I have a iPad Air with 200mb of monthly data at no monthly cost. If I want to, I could add additional data but would have to prepay for it, perfect!

    • mrTeam

      ok, so do you think it made any difference that you were a postpaid T-mobile subscriber already? Or do you think a non-T-mobile subscriber could call up T-Mobile prepaid and do the same thing and get the free data on their tablet?

      My mother is on ATT, and has an iPad with cellular, but no data plan on it. Could she get the free 200MB data plan from T-Mobile by calling T-mobile prepaid like you did?

      • randomnerd_number38

        Anybody with or without an existing Tmobile account can do this. Open a prepaid line with a qualifying tablet(including any cellular-enabled, unlocked iPad), claim your 200mb per month, and only add more if you need it :)

        • mrTeam

          Thanks random! Truly an amazing deal from T-mobile.

    • stopgointothirdparties

      you could’ve had your tablet on the same account. i know any single account is maxed out to 5 lines but you can add a tablet onto it since its not a voice line. thats why you come into a store where we can help you in that circumstance and not to an apple store.

  • Joel

    Doess the 200 MB get replaced or added to if you decided to get more data for a particular month?

  • Brandon

    Its partially wrong here.. If you want $0 down on an iPad you must activate a $10/mth mobile pass plan which you then may add the free 200mb data, purchase day passes, week passes, hr passes and monthly passes. Existing voice customers get a $10 discount on all mobile internet plans including this one bringing it to $0 (well $2 after regulatory fee and tax). If you do not have voice line, bit want to activate with installments, you can still do this same plan and not necessarily the 500mb plan. Prepaid plan is truly free but phone number will expire after a year if you never add refills. Hope this clears up some confusion as some info in article is incorrect, but just the having to be on a $20 plan.

    • randomnerd_number38

      Sorry, but I believe you’re incorrect. Try going to the T-Mobile website as a new customer and adding the iPad to your cart with the $0 down option and see what plans you can choose from :)

      Also, check John Legere’s twitter. He endorses an allthingsd article that states that the 20 dollar plan is required to get the $0 down offer if you’re not an existing voice customer.

  • JBrowne1012

    So people thought they could get an iPad free without any commitment? whats wrong with people?

    • OmeerRahman

      Yes PLUS the free data! LMAO!