T-Mobile CMO Sievert reiterates 200 MB of free data for all tablet customers

T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) CMO Mike Sievert said the company stands behind its offer of 200 MB of free data for tablet customers as long as they keep their tablet on the carrier's network. Sievert's reiteration of the offer, which launched Nov. 1, comes after media reports of customer confusion about the plans and how much they really cost.

In an interview with FierceWireless, Sievert repeatedly affirmed the idea that T-Mobile customers will get 200 MB of free data for life as long as they keep their tablets on T-Mobile's network, regardless of whatever data plan they have, or if they do not have a separate data plan at all.

Sievert said the offer "is for every single tablet on our network," and that it does not matter if customers bring their tablet to T-Mobile or buy one from the carrier. "Every single tablet on the network gets 200 MB of free data every month for life, no strings attached," he said.

The T-Mobile executive did acknowledge that "in order to connect a device you need a SIM card," which the carrier charges $10 for. In that sense, the offer of 200 MB of data is not truly "free."

"That's a one-time charge to buy the SIM card from us," he said, in lieu of an activation fee. "After that, you don't have to have any billing relationship with us at all," Sievert said.

CNET reported that customers were being forced to sign up for a $10 per month "on-demand" data plan. T-Mobile confirmed the issue and called it "simply an executional mistake."

"We sincerely apologize for any confusion and inconvenience, and we are working to address the issue, including crediting all customers who were charged," the company said in a statement e-mailed to CNET.

Sievert said that "I think the main thing that has caused a little bit of confusion is that some of those customers were erroneously charged $10," when they signed up for a tablet. He said the company is rectifying the issue.

T-Mobile's retail and computer operations were just not set up to handle the free data offer, which caused the erroneous charge. "We had a technology glitch and a training issue that caused some people to believe [they were being charged]--and some people to be charged," Sievert told AllThingsD. "That's just not right."

CNET also reported that customers who want to take advantage of T-Mobile's no-money-down tablet plan are required to sign up for a $20-a-month plan for 500 MB of data before getting access to the 200 MB of free data. Sievert said it shouldn't be news that customers who sign up for one of the carrier's equipment installment plans are required to have a billing relationship with the carrier. He said the only condition for qualifying for device financing (besides passing a credit check) is that customers have paying relationship with T-Mobile.

"As we said on the launch day, and as we have always had on our equipment financing deals, they are for paying customers," Sievert said. "I don't think customers have an expectation that we will finance multi-hundred-dollar devices for free if they don't have a paying relationship with T-Mobile," he said.

Existing T-Mobile voice customers with a phone plan can access the 200 MB of free data without signing up for additional plans, as can new customers who pay full price for tablets. Customers can bring in their own T-Mobile-compatible tablets to the carrier.

Sievert said existing customers who have a phone plan can qualify for financing on a new tablet, even if that tablet itself does not have a data plan, and only has the 200 MB of free data.

Customers who want more than the 200 MB of data can choose from a range of options. For existing T-Mobile voice customers, the carrier offers "always-on" tablet plans that start at $10 per month for unlimited data, including 500 MB of LTE data per month (for customers who are not T-Mobile voice subscribers, that plan starts at $20 per month). Customers can add more LTE data in 2 GB increments for $10 more per month. When customers exceed their allotment of LTE data, their speeds are throttled. Sievert clarified the company's terms and conditions and said that T-Mobile tablet customers who sign up for data plans burn through their passes or data allotments before accessing the 200 MB of free data.

Additionally, T-Mobile offers daily passes that include 500 MB of LTE data for $5. The weekly passes include 1 GB of LTE data for $10. Once customers reach the time limit or data allotment they will not be throttled but will simply have their service stopped and are prompted to purchase more data via passes.

"People are delighted with this offer," Sievert said, adding that the carrier has seen a positive response in stores since it started offering the iPad Air and the 200 MB offer on Nov. 1. "It's a highly disruptive offer that customers love," he said.

For more:
- see this T-Mobile site
- see this CNET article
- see this separate CNET article
- see this AllThingsD article

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