AT&T testing new 'Plus' loyalty program

AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) has started testing a new loyalty program called "AT&T Plus" to retain its most valued customers, but the details of the plan remain murky.

According to a report from The Verge, which cited documents from AT&T, the program is being launched across Colorado as well as in the Houston and Minneapolis markets. However, it's unclear what criteria will qualify a customer to be in the "Plus" program. Other loyalty programs at carriers have been based on the customer's longevity with the carrier.

"We're trialing a pilot loyalty program, called AT&T Plus, with a select group of our wireless customers to get their feedback on their interest in this type of program and the benefits they'd like to have from us," said an AT&T representative in a statement to FierceWireless. "Right now, this is only a trial, but based on what our customers tell us, it may be something we look to roll out more widely in the future. It's an example of our ongoing efforts to deliver a great experience for our customers."

According to The Verge report, some of the benefits of the program include a preferential number (1-855-ATTPLUS) for customer service, waived upgrade fees, waived activation fees (for a second line only) and 25 percent off non-Apple accessories.

The program comes amid declining wireless customer loyalty in general. According to a recent survey of North American wireless carriers conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, which notably did not include AT&T, the average length of postpaid customer relationships has declined to 48 months, down from 59 months in the 2010 survey.

The AT&T program also comes after Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) decided last fall to phase out its "Premier" rewards program. Earlier in 2011 Sprint had divided its program into a "Gold tier" program and a "Silver tier." A chief benefit of the program's Gold Tier was that subscribers could upgrade their handset, at the fully subsidized price, after 12 months of service, a program called "New For You."

For more:
- see this AT&T site
- see this The Verge article

Related Articles:
Report: Carriers, facing pressure from smartphone costs, turn to prepaid and data
Sprint shortens return period to 14 days, axes Premier program
Sprint tinkers with Premier handset upgrade program

Article updated March 27 with confirmation from AT&T that the effort is a trial.

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