No more incentives for existing customers

Userlevel 4

[This is something of an open letter to the folks in T-Mobile's marketing department, and I hope an opportunity for others in this forum to lend their voices to this issue as well. Yes, I realize this is not a T-Mobile-exclusive issue, but I feel that consumers' concerns should be heard and not simply dismissed because "every carrier has this issue." Your input is welcome.]

To whom it may concern:

I have been a loyal T-Mobile customer since the early 2000s. I was a high school student studying American Sign Language, where I was introduced to the Deaf Community. In an era of still primarily flip phones, all of my new friends used the Sidekick phones to communicate for the QWERTY keyboard and ease of texting; before long, I had convinced my parents to let me switch from the family's Cingular/AT&T plan to T-Mobile so that I, too, could have a Sidekick to more easily message my Deaf & Hard-Of-Hearing friends. I have been with T-Mobile ever since, and eventually convinced my parents to switch, too.

I am now 30 and have my own T-Mobile plan with my partner, who switched from his previous carrier to join me. We are the only members of our household. Both of my parents are on their own T-Mobile plan, we have no intention of having children, and we have no other family members or friends for whom we would have any reason to add a line to our T-Mobile service. As it is, we have four lines: two for our phones, two for our smart watches. We give T-Mobile a significant amount of our business, and have spoken highly of the service to others. Being that my partner is French, when we go visit his hometown overseas, we have always had excellent service on our T-Mobile plans, and we have been sure to let our friends and colleagues know that this carrier offers that benefit to those who travel often. I work at an airport with hundreds of colleagues who travel regularly on our flight benefits; my recommendation in this regard has been responsible for more than a few new customers for the company.

However, the time has come where I no longer have any real incentive to support T-Mobile. The "Un-Carrier" has become every bit as bad as its competition. Why do I say this? Well, the benefit of doing away with 24-month contracts has now been outweighed by the outrageous cost of new devices, when only new customers (or those adding new lines of service) receive the BOGO offers and the discounts for purchasing. I never thought I would long for the days of 2-year-contracts, when I could actually afford a new phone (and not just the crummy basic models) just by signing up for another 24 months of service! Now, T-Mobile has followed the other carriers into a bizarre new business model in which ONLY new business is encouraged. Sure, there are supposedly trade-in discounts, but for our 2-year-old Samsung phones we would only receive $200 a piece, and that's if they were in perfect condition. That's barely enough to put a dent in the price of the current version of the same devices. My own phone was pickpocketed in February, and I was lucky enough to be given the device I'm using by a family member, or else I would be in an even worse predicament of having had to buy something new sooner. Now, with two cracked screens leaving glass splinters in our fingertips, my partner and I both really desperately need to upgrade.

Again, I completely acknowledge that other carriers operate on much the same business model and have similar restrictions. But isn't T-Mobile's whole thing that they are different, that they are more customer-friendly? Why, then, am I offered SIGNIFICANTLY more incentive to switch to another carrier than to stay with the company I've been loyal to for over a decade? I've priced it out, and even with the slightly higher cost of Verizon service, I am literally saving money by switching to them for 2 years if I intend to purchase the same phones. I don't want to do that, but for the first time, I'm actually speaking to their representatives and leaning towards making that switch. If I stay with T-Mobile, I would have to pay an additional $45 a month for a new line (for which I have no phone and absolutely no use) to receive the same offer on a new device. Why can I not simply opt to be contractually bound for another 24-month period and receive the same deal? I would actively prefer contracts at this point. With the cost of new devices SOARING past where they were when carriers first put the kibosh on free phone upgrades every year or two, it is financially more logical to switch carriers every year instead.

And that's just silly, isn't it? A customer who wants to stay with the company should be given SOME reason to. T-Mobile Tuesdays - with the discount code coupons we never ever use, and the occasional RedBox code for $3 off that we do from time to time - is not enough. A brand new customer off the streets is treated enormously better than a customer loyal for over a decade... and I'm not even grandfathered into a significantly lower rate or anything. Sure, I absolutely have (and will probably take) the option to go with another mobile service provider and save well over $1,000 immediately. I am well aware that I could keep my mouth shut and do exactly that. I am also aware I could just go with a lower-quality device, but either way I'm still spending a good chunk out of pocket. However, I don't find either of those options to be sufficient: I want someone involved in T-Mobile's marketing to take a hard look and realize this is happening across the board. People are leaving because there is literally NO reason to stay. Customer retention should NOT be a dying art. New customers are NOT the only thing of value. If you can entice people who only stay for a year or two before switching back to the next deal, having given away a $1,000 free phone, is that really worth it? At the same time, would you not prefer to have a longtime customer's money for one device and give them the second one free to earn their loyalty and continue profiting from their plan for another decade of business? One free device seems like a drop in the bucket when you consider what the company stands to earn longterm.

I don't intend to upgrade my phone every 2 years, but I will stay with T-Mobile if I know I can at least have SOME benefit on the new models when it does come time for me to consider upgrading. As it stands, any device 2 years or older has virtually no trade-in value and therefore no benefit when it comes time to upgrade, particularly if it's not in mint condition. There absolutely needs to be an option for the BOGO deals to be extended to existing customers who meet certain requirements, such as committing to a 24-month contract (or, at least, having to pay back the "free" device cost if service is terminated before 24 months, same as new customers), having an account in good standing, or even adding a small additional service (i.e. advanced caller ID) for a year. Give us some reason not to transfer our business to a company who will take our money and in exchange, give us more value and savings for at least the two years until that free phone is paid off. After that time, who knows? Perhaps you'll re-earn some customers, but more likely you've left people like me with a sour taste in our mouths. Decent mobile phones are simply too expensive these days for the average Joe customer to consider staying with T-Mobile if they are actually interested in the best technology.

So I challenge T-Mobile to become the Un-Carrier again. I challenge the team of experts to find an option - any option! - for existing customers to benefit. Trade-ins clearly aren't an option for everyone, and if you'd give someone new off the street a dramatically better deal than you'd give a customer who has been investing in your company for well over a decade, then I maintain that that customer deserves an equal shake. It's just good customer service. Instead of just driving new sales and pushing for more and more and more money, why don't you try being a company people actually WANT to do business with again?

Just a thought. I would absolutely love to be contacted by a manager who is able to address this issue and improve customer retention practices, but this policy should be changed across the board, for everyone. It's time. Meanwhile, if you continue to take no strides towards securing my business, I'll head over to Verizon where I can actually afford to spend money on a new device.

19 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +13

There's deals out there and you don't need to add a line if you don't want an iPhone or the top of the line Samsungs.

They had the Pixel 4XL and 4's for almost half off.

When the new LG V60 comes out they are going to have a bogo on them with no add a line attached.

Even if they still subsidized phones the down payment would be expensive.

Userlevel 4

I should be able to receive the same deals on top of the line phones that a new customer would receive. If another carrier will allow me to BOGO a Samsung phone, T-Mobile should have a competitive offer for existing customers wanting that device.

Userlevel 7
Badge +13

Unfortunately we all received our deals when we signed up with Tmobile and the only way to do that again is to play the

changing of carriers every two years game to get a free phone.

You said you wish they went back to subsidized phones again but you do realize that would increase the price of your

phone plan to cover the discount on the phone.

Userlevel 4

I disagree. If the discount can be offered to new customers and they can afford to lose those customers every 2 years, they can afford to - as you say - "subsidize" the phones to retain customers. Agree to disagree, we will clearly not be on the same page here.

Userlevel 7
Badge +13

Not really. Churn is expected in the cell phone industry and looking at Tmobile's net subscriber gain

they really don't need to offer incentives on phones to keep customers.

• T-Mobile US customers/subscribers 2010-2019 | Statista

Userlevel 7
Badge +13

I think you should look up John Legere's e-mail (because it is frowned upon to post it here) and send him the letter you wrote in your initial post.  Hint: Check his social media. At the very least, it will reach the highest level at T-Mobile.  Whether or not you get a response, is not guaranteed, but I do think it is worth a shot.

Sadly, sometimes you have to switch carriers to feel appreciated by them. I did when they dropped the Sidekick plan.  I still have my Sidekick LX (blue), LX Carbon, and 4G.  The physical keyboard was the best available in my opinion and one I always recommended to my visually impaired and blind clients that were looking for an easy to use smartphone for someone with little to no vision.

Userlevel 4

Even if that were the case, I maintain it is not a customer-friendly business model and does not do well to meet T-Mobile's image. As I said, we will not see eye to eye on this.

@jevausie​ I feel for your predicament. Many of us have faced the same challenges with other service providers or product sellers. We feel that we have put the time and effort in to their brand and we expect to be treated well for our time and effort. It is painful to see unexpected changes.

From my perspective, all of the major carriers got together and decided that they wouldn't be competing for "Customers for Life" anymore, and are no longer interested in keeping our loyalty. Instead they decided to get on the same plan to allow customers to switch from one network to the other for better deals. This means these companies are frequently swapping customers instead of fighting to keep them. Then the psychological aspects of "NEW" (new Phone, new Brand, new Service provider) encourages positive feedback from consumers because they made a decision and feel better about their *new* situation.

Just think about this scenario: You buy a brand new phone, the one you've always wanted, and on your way home you get a flat tire. You aren't really bummed out about the flat tire because you get to use your **brand new** cellular phone to get you out of the situation, and you know that your new phone is going to help you in a lot of situations like this one.

This is the type of psyche the big companies want you to feel about all products. Buying new makes you stress less about normal problems that occur in every day life. This begins a cycle of addiction to buying products that you may or may not need. It is part of our culture now, too.

I'm not an expert, nor do I claim the above as fact. It is my observed opinion of the way things are. I don't know how to fix it.

Userlevel 7
Badge +12

You are getting the SAME deal even if it doesn't look like it.

In order for anyone coming taking advantage of the deal must ADD 2 or more lines.  They can't simply add 1 and take advantage of the deal.  YOU can, but they can't.  So if they add 3 lines they stuck with paying for 2 and getting one "free". 

As for keeping customers for life.  It isn't worth it as if they keep giving more and more just to keep customers it cuts into their bottom end and people expect cellular coverage, and reliability all while getting expensive hardware for next to nothing whenever possible.  So at some point when can carriers put their foot down and actually make some money.  T-Mobile for the longest time made less than 5% profit from their customers while Verizon, and AT&T were averaging minimum 33%.  What I mean by this T-Mobile was making $5 per 100 spent while Verizon was making $33.  T-Mobile has probably raise their profit margins as of late, but everyone is expecting 5G, and also T-Mobile is taking Sprint and building out that 5G. 

I have  also been a T -Mobil customer for many years. I agree that  they are now one of the worst companies of any kind to deal with.  I fully agree that they have no one who will help you or even know how to address the problem and never call back. It used to be that a  company like this could not stay in business.  What is the answer ?

You’re lucky you get $200 for your trade in. I’ve never gotten more than $50. And never been unlucky to crack a screen or anything. 10+ year customer as well. 


I fully agree with your post.  It has not always been this way.  I have been a customer for 15 years.  I originally got the Dash (physical keyboards are great) because TMobile would let me get it without a data plan.  (I had wifi everywhere I needed.)  


Before the original Note came out, I pre-ordered it at full price.  When the actual phone hit the stores they were offered at half off.  I was upset.  I called TMobile and asked for retention.  I explained my frustration.  The representative refunded half my payment, offered me a great deal on a phone for my wife and reduced my bill for a few months.  I was so appreciative.  And I could only say good things about TMobile for years after that.

I just got a great offer from ATT to switch.  Free upgraded phones all around, a lower monthly bill, and some gift cards to sweeten the deal.  I called TMobile and asked for retention.  They don’t have that any more.  My “expert” just told me about all their current promotions.  And the better ones required a new line.  What am I going to do with a new line?  give it to my dog?!?!?  I have a written offer from ATT in front of me, and all she would offer is only what I could see on the website.  I’ve been a customer for 15 years or 15 minutes, same deal.  And a new customer gets even better deals.


Customer Retention seems not to be a thing with TMobile anymore.  Perhaps they finally got so big & popular they don’t mind losing a customer because there is someone in line behind me.  Just like most other big companies today.



I am in the same boat.  This month marks 25 uninterrupted years I've been with T-Mobile.   I have 2 lines and pay about $130 per month.   Verizon is offering me a free Galaxy S21 (for wife) and a new Note for me, all for free.  Monthly bill will be $90 plus taxes (estimated $115 monthly).  I have tried to work with T-mobile in the past to get deals on phones,  but its always been "new customers only" or "must add a line".  I paid full prices for both my current Galaxy 8S and my wife's 9S.  I plan on calling T-Mobile tomorrow to see if they will do ANYTHING to keep my business, however I feel it will be in vain.   You would think they would want to hold on to someone with as low a customer number as mine.

I have been voicing the same concern for years and T-Mobile has not taken any steps in incentivizing its current customer base. All the rewards are available to new customers unless, as stated earlier, you add a line. What kind of garbage is that! Who sat around the roundtable and gave that his/her stamp of approval? I do like BOGO free, but have no need for an additional line and, unlike @tbolick, I don't even have a pet to give that additional line to! For the first time, I'm actually considering ending this one-sided  relationship. 

I agree that loyal customers should be rewarded.  It looks like the only way to get rewarded is to switch companies.  That is a sad storyline for a business.  But, I guess keeping customers is not as important as getting new ones.


I  had been so disappointed with T-Mobile, that I was ready to leave. I was determined that had they not worked with me, I'd be leaving.  I  called them on Monday and voiced my opinion, which I did often, regarding the lack of appreciation for long-standing customers. I will not give the details of the call, but let's just say, I'm still  T-Mobile customer today. 


@Ridiculousness why won’t you state the details of your call or your offer to help the rest of us out? We are all complaining about the same problem and have been long time 19 years...but you won’t share your approach or the details of your call? Seems selfish.

@Ridiculousness why won’t you state the details of your call or your offer to help the rest of us out? We are all complaining about the same problem and have been long time 19 years...but you won’t share your approach or the details of your call? Seems selfish.

I bet he’s full of baloney….he didn’t get anywhere with them. They don’t care if you stay or go because AT&T customers come to T-Mobile and then they get some from sprint etc. it’s one giant pool of never ending customers. 

I have been a loyal customer too for many years 22+ to be precise. I was a voice stream customer when they switched to Tmobile.  Honestly, since Jon left customer loyalty went out the window.  Black Friday and all Christmas deals are based on new customers and families who now have older kids to add-on their plans.

I had said that I believe if they offer a Tmobile Tuesday to everyone then they should offer a five, ten, fifteen then a twenty + reward days for the loyal customers. Not only do I pay over $400 a month, I have five phone lines, a digits line, a tablet line (data only), and internet I have Tmobile money account as well.  I have sent friends and family to them and never got referral fee.  Now they are changing up the plans and I am grandfathered in on a great plan and in order to get best services I will now have to pay more.  Ummmmm....please forgive me, but is $400 a month not enough money for someone who has been with company as long as I have.

I feel defeated and want to switch, but I have been with them so long I just can't seem to do it.  Then the fiance could get a deal for us being he is a veteran, but get this they will take away my years with company in order to do this.  I think this is completely messed up and I can not even believe this.  I spoke with Jon 2 years ago and he said it is at top of screen how many years someone has been with company. Customer service should not be anything less then kind and giving you the best service and if they can't they must speak with supervisor so it will be completed and the customer be satisfied to the fullest.  He stated that we are a family and the longer you are in the family the better you should be treated.  Not that new people are not treated good to begin with but loyalty is #one in the company.  Well I felt like royalty the day I got my response from him.  Not so much any more.  Sorry for my rant but I am so angry now.