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T-Mobile rolls out try-before-you-buy program

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T-Mobile has been aggressively rolling out new initiatives
T-Mobile partners with six major music streaming services to let wireless customers stream unlimited music

T-Mobile is shaking things up again, announcing new perks for wireless users in an effort to woo them away from rival carriers.

At a media event in Seattle on Wednesday evening, T-Mobile rolled out a try-before-you-buy program as well as unlimited music streaming without data charges.

The first program, T-Mobile Test Drive, allows customers to try out its network free for a week.

Starting Monday, consumers can go to T-Mobile's website to sign up for a trial with no obligation and no money down. They'll then receive an iPhone 5s on T-Mobile's network in the mail that they can use for a "data-intensive, seven-day spin."

Customers can drop off the phone at any T-Mobile store at the end of the week.

Andrew Sherrard, T-Mobile's senior vice president of marketing, said the move is aimed at providing transparency. It also eliminates the potential for buyer's remorse that often sets in after consumers settle on a wireless network, only to find their coverage lacking once they leave the store.

"We call that buying blind and we think that's a huge problem today," he said. "We want to give people a new way to do it."

T-Mobile said it expected at least 1 million people to take advantage of the program in its first year.

The Bellevue, Wash., carrier also announced that it had partnered with six major music streaming services — Spotify, Pandora, Rhapsody, iHeartRadio, iTunes Radio and Slacker Radio — to allow its Simple Choice wireless customers to stream unlimited music without tapping into their data plans. The program is effective immediately.

"I am personally outraged at the way the other guys are using the music you love to lure you into overpriced plans," T-Mobile Chief Executive John Legere said in a statement. "Music should be free of all that. Music should have no limits."

The scrappy wireless carrier has been aggressively rolling out new initiatives such as getting rid of traditional two-year contracts and offering to pay the cost of termination fees if customers leave their wireless carriers for T-Mobile.

That has led to big increases in new subscribers but has hurt T-Mobile's bottom line: In the first quarter, it picked up a total of 2.4 million new subscribers — a company record — but also posted its fourth quarterly loss in a row. Executives have maintained that the company is in a growth stage and for now is focused on signing up and retaining new customers.

"We think it makes complete sense because we want to grow, and we think these programs are more than offset by the value we create," Sherrard said.

T-Mobile's stock fell 38 cents, or 1.2%, to $32.68 on Wednesday.

andrea.chang@latimes.com

Twitter: @byandreachang

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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