AT&T is suing T-Mobile over the company’s latest ad campaign targeting senior citizens. In the campaign, T-Mobile touts its discounted rates for those 55 and older and claims that “92% of seniors in the U.S. can’t get a wireless discount from Verizon or AT&T because they don’t live in Florida.”
AT&T filed its lawsuit September 6 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas Sherman Division. In the complaint, AT&T accuses T-Mobile of false advertising and says the company’s ad campaign is “intentionally designed to deceive senior citizens.”
AT&T said that it offers discounted wireless service and activation fees to seniors in all 50 states through its partnership with AARP. On the AARP website, AARP members are offered a savings of up to $10 per line per month on AT&T’s Unlimited Premium plan, plus they can receive up to $50 in waived activation and upgrade fees. To be eligible for an AARP membership, one must be 50 years or older and pay an annual fee of $12.
Roger Entner, founder of Recon Analytics, and one of the first to report AT&T’s lawsuit on Twitter, says that T-Mobile likes to make a splash with its promotions and it obviously touched a nerve with AT&T. “Otherwise, you don’t have a lawsuit,” he said.
T-Mobile even created a website, BannedSeniors.com, where it offers seniors a number of options, including switching to T-Mobile, creating a virtual mailbox in Florida, or connecting them to a Florida real estate agent so they can move there.
“T-Mobile’s claims are outright dishonest and completely false. It is not the first time they have spread misleading information. AT&T offers wireless discounts to people of all ages, including seniors in all 50 states. The only way to stop the un-truthful carrier is apparently in a court of law, and that’s where we are,” AT&T said in a statement.
T-Mobile offers an Essential 55+ unlimited plan to those 55 years or older. The company says that two unlimited lines on an Essentials 55+ plan are just $27.50/per line per month.
AT&T is requesting a jury trial and wants T-Mobile to discontinue its advertising campaign. Plus, it wants T-Mobile to pay compensatory damages, attorneys fees and give up any profits it made from this campaign.
But Entner says that perhaps the best outcome for this dispute between the two operators would be if “AT&T offers the senior discount without the AARP membership and T-Mobile lowers its eligibility for its senior discount to 50,” he said. “Wouldn’t that be nice? A win for everybody.”
Verizon, meanwhile, said that it only offers a discounted plan to Florida seniors and they must be 55 years and older. MVNO Consumer Cellular focuses on the senior demographic and also has a partnership with AARP. It uses both AT&T and T-Mobile's network for its service and in 2020 it said it had about 4 million subscribers.