John Legere has made quite the name for himself by speaking his mind and using PG-13 language in places you don't usually see C-level executive for major companies doing so. He routinely pokes at the competition on Twitter, frequently calling out other mobile carrier CEOs and mocking decisions they've made recently. It's usually fairly entertaining, especially when it's clear one of these companies is rolling out a lamer version of a plan Legere's team has just finished deploying.
As you'd expect, the other CEOs rarely respond — lets be honest, some of them probably don't actually use their own Twitter accounts — but last night that changed. Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure — whose time would be better spent not screwing people out of video streaming — fired back at Legere in an unfortunately childish way, but in doing so made a valid point about T-Mobile's new Jump On Demand service.
If you listen to our podcast, you've heard some words already on the "amped" version of the Jump program. T-Mobile started out with an upgrade path worthy of the Uncarrier hashtag and turned it into a leasing program in a continued effort to strip away the things that made the original program so impressive. You gain the ability to upgrade three times a year, but you lose the included Premium Handset Protection and Lookout Premium that were included in the previous version. You also never truly own your phone, which means if you downgrade your service plan out of the list of qualifying T-Mobile plans or you decide to cancel altogether you have to either return the phone and pay the remaining payments for the hardware. There are also additional costs associated with having a credit score T-Mobile deems unacceptable, which have to be paid up front as a down payment on the device you're leasing.
While there have been some great changes through this movement, Jump On Demand is just about as far from Uncarrier as you can get.
Perhaps most important of all is the point Claure made on Twitter. The current advertising for Jump puts the iPhone in the spotlight for $15/month with an eligible trade-in. What isn't mentioned anywhere is the increase in cost when you Jump from one device to another. If you jump from an iPhone 6 to a shiny new Nexus this fall, for example, that $15/month goes away and will actually be closer to $27/month. While it's true you're still paying less than you would if you bought a phone outright on this plan, you still have to pay the balance if you want to own the phone and you still need to pay the extra $8/month to get the protection plan. Remember, if you take a broken phone to them and try to Jump, you'll be sent away. A single phone is now costing you $35/month after your first Jump.
If you've got great credit, zero interest in owning your hardware, and really love T-Mobile's service, Jump On Demand still isn't a great idea. When you compare Jump prices after this promo trade-in period to the regular monthly Equipment Installment Plan, you see there's not a lot of difference there. T-Mobile started the Uncarrier movement by shouting from the rooftops about fixing a broken, stupid industry. While there have been some great changes through this movement, Jump On Demand is just about as far from Uncarrier as you can get. What's worse, it's being carefully marketed as a cure-all to folks with uncontrollable gadget lust, when in fact it's a different color collar to tether you to your carrier.