AT&T, T-Mobile bicker over competing rewards programs

Initiatives by AT&T and T-Mobile to reward their customers once a week have erupted into a spat about who did it first.

AT&T this week began doling out buy-one, get-one-free movie tickets that customers can use for screenings on Tuesdays. Users can go online to validate their phone number and are then directed to a link where the offer can be redeemed when they buy a ticket at full price.

The offer is part of "Thanks," a rewards program that the nation's second-largest carrier announced last month. Other perks will include pre-sale ticket offers from Live Nation and special content for DirecTV subscribers on their phones and TVs.

The carrier used the announcement to jab T-Mobile, whose own weekly rewards campaign has had some notable glitches. As DSL Reports noted this week, the congested servers prevented some customers from accessing the T-Mobile Tuesdays app during the campaign's first week, and  overwhelming demand for free pizzas forced Domino's to drop out of the program in its second week. And the carrier has continued to struggle with congested servers as customers look to redeem their goodies.

"After four straight weeks of missteps, seems like the pressure is on TMO to build an app their customers can actually use," AT&T spokesman Steven Schwadron told FierceWireless via email. "After announcing our AT&T Thanks program first, TMO clearly rushed to put out an app that is riddled with problems. You can't have your pizza and eat it too."

But T-Mobile CEO John Legere criticized AT&T's program last month, claiming that Thanks actually came in response to reports that T-Mobile was preparing to announce its initiative.

"I think that the AT&T announcement is the funniest thing that I've ever seen," Legere said during a June call with media and analysts. "That was the most shoddy, quickly thrown-together task force-oriented thing that stuck a 'Tuesday' on it because of a rumor and a leak that they heard."

And Legere continues to plug his company's rewards program in spite of the bugs. "I just want it to be #TMobileTuesdays again!" he tweeted yesterday.

For more:
- see this AT&T announcement

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