T-Mobile resuscitates network ‘test drive’ but in only 3 markets

T-Mobile said users can connect the carrier's hotspot to their existing phone to test its service. (T-Mobile)

T-Mobile appears to be working to goose sales in Boston, Austin and Atlanta with a new promotion that gives prospective customers a free portable hotspot. Users can pair the device to their existing phone to access T-Mobile’s network for either 30 days or 30 GB, whichever comes first.

“We’re so confident that you’ll love our network that we’re giving you the exclusive opportunity to try us for free,” the carrier said on a web page detailing the offer. “We know how hard switching can be, which is why we designed an offer that allows you to experience our network with no hassle, completely free.”

T-Mobile said interested customers can sign up for the offer on its website and then will receive the “free trial device” in the mail. The operator said current T-Mobile customers aren’t eligible for the offer, nor is anyone who participated in the promotion within the past six months. Importantly, when questioned about the program by FierceWireless, a T-Mobile spokesperson described it as a “limited time offer for customers of other wireless providers” and declined to provide any further information.

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The offer is noteworthy considering T-Mobile just today held an “Un-carrier” announcement that didn’t make any mention of the program, and because one of T-Mobile’s first “Un-carrier” announcements, back in 2014, centered on a “test drive” wherein the operator gave prospective customers an iPhone 5s with T-Mobile service for free for seven days.

At the time, T-Mobile CEO John Legere said the goal of that program was to raise awareness that T-Mobile offered the iPhone; T-Mobile had only recently acquired the ability to sell the iPhone to its customers.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Sprint responded to T-Mobile’s test drive promotion in 2014 by reinstating a 30-day satisfaction guarantee that it had discontinued in 2011.

T-Mobile eventually discontinued its iPhone “test drive” program but appears to continue to offer a “Lifetime Coverage Guarantee” that allows customers to purchase a phone through the operator’s Jump On Demand program and then return the device within 30 days.

T-Mobile’s promotion comes amid continued momentum for the provider; in the second quarter, T-Mobile reported branded postpaid phone net customer additions of 686,000 and said it expects to acquire branded postpaid net customer additions of between 3 million and 3.6 million during the full-year 2018, figures up from the 2.6 million to 3.3 million guidance that the company released earlier this year.

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