Rumor: T-Mobile Uncarrier 4.0 to award subscribers that switch carriers up to $350 credit for their ETF

by: Chris SmithDecember 20, 2013


T-Mobile will soon announce a new step in its Uncarrier initiative – dubbed as Uncarrier 4.0 – maybe as soon as CES 2014, which may be offering cash to subscribers that ditch their current mobile operator in order for them to make up for their Early Termination Fees.

The news is not confirmed yet, as we’re simply looking at an unconfirmed report from TMoNews, which received an interesting tip on the matter. Apparently T-Mobile would give users up to $350 in credit when switching over. Here’s what the anonymous tipster said about project “Houdini”:

…he’s teasing a project code named “houdini” which will give switchers up to $350 in credit when they switch to TMO… Emphasis will be on families switching up to 5 lines regardless of contract end dates…

New customers will receive instant credit when they trade in a smartphone, then get a credit for the ETF charged by their old carrier when they submit the final bill to TMO.

Will this be profitable for T-Mobile, even if it’s a scheme that should help the carrier get more subscribers? TMoNews says that for single lines it may not be a great offer for the carrier, which may end up losing money on the deal if the customer decides to leave T-Mobile as well. But family plans that switch over may be a lucrative deal for T-Mobile:

Let’s use a “typical” 4 person family: Dad, mom, brother, sister. Dad has 12 months left on his line, mom has 4, brother has 8, sister is due an upgrade. In that situation, the endless cycle would normally continue as the daughter starts looking around for upgrades. Switching isn’t an option, since the rest of the 4-person family are nowhere near an end. Using Verizon as an example, the early termination fee for smartphone users is $350 minus $10 for each month they’ve had the contract. So, Dad is $350-$120 = $230. Mom is $350-$200 = $150. Brother is $350-$160=$190. Sister is $0. In total, that’s $570, a total which T-Mobile could potentially pay off if they trade in their old phones (to pay the down payments on new ones) and get their final bills covered by this “Houdini” scheme. Switching and sorting the finances isn’t hassle-free, but it’s not going to be expensive.

That said, nothing is official just yet, so we’ll look forward to T-Mobile’s Uncarrier 4.0 announcement for more details. However, including a different approach for ETFs in its uncarrier plans makes sense, at least for the consumer. And yes, that could mean that “Houdini” could make your ETFs disappear.

  • D. Sharer

    If this turns out to be true, that is just awesome

  • bobEveryman

    Yeah, the situation outlined in this article is the “danger” of family plans under contract. You’re basically locked in, to either continue your individual upgrade cycles (and renewing the corresponding new 2 year contracts), or you get socked with a large ETF fee. The only option is to move individuals to a new plan as their contracts come up for expiration, but that is still a difficult proposition.

  • Amadeus Klein

    Please be true!!!

  • Luka Mlinar

    Ah yes, T-Mobile. The most expensive and most hated telecom operator in Croatia.

    When ever they give you a deal or free stuff you end up paying trough the nose.

    • Luka Mlinar

      Every time you say something against T-Mobile you get instant down voted. Could it be that T-Mobile is paying students to spread (vote) the good word. Samsung started it, why wouldn’t everyone else do it :P

  • Ronny

    I was hoping they’d address their horrible network.

    • Naruto Namikaze

      What’s so hard to understand that your signal strength is based on location? Your here criticizing T-Mobile in a different post location when maybe something else is better in your location? Then again your the only suffering since your the one who who wants to save a couple $$$ and can spare any for a better service. Think save money and deal with the bad signal you have at your location or spend a little extra and get the service that is better at your location? Get what you believe your money is worth.

      • Christian Harris

        T-Mobile is great all around my city.

  • tyk7733

    They could drop throttling and make the simple choice more simple.

    • Matt Hunter

      Throttling has already been dropped. Problem solved

      • Christian Harris

        No, they still throttle after you go over your threshold. I actually think it’s nice of them to just slow you down and not cut off your service/slap you with heavy overage fees.

        • Matt Hunter

          Well that threshold must be pretty high… I’ve used 17gigs this billing cycle and am still yet to hit it.

          • Christian Harris

            Really?! You must be piss lucky.

          • Matt Hunter

            You do know they stopped throttling about 3-4 months ago right?

          • Christian Harris

            Really? Because on their website they still state that: “No overages. You will never have overage charges on our network. If you exceed your allotment of up to 500MB of high-speed data, your data speed will simply be slowed until your next billing cycle.” I guess may in the sentence might entail that they don’t throttle anymore.

          • Christian Harris

            Oh, you have the unlimited plan. I should have said they throttle on limited plans…

  • Simon Belmont

    Awesome idea. I just have one worry.

    That this will just egg the other carriers on to raise the ETFs even higher. I hope that isn’t the result, if this ends up being true.

  • kstagg

    Bye-Bye Sprint. Well. At least until they merge.

  • andy

    I say when where I’m in